Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Putting the Group Pieces Together

Today's 1st grade group counseling session was very productive! I grabbed Mr. S, another colleague, to come up and assist, as I had role-plays planned and knew that one of me and four of them wouldn't be productive. Our lesson today was putting together the skills we've been learning, so that we can look towards problem-solving (that'll come next time).

We reviewed and reinforced ad nauseum how to identify a feeling and practiced showing with our bodies what different emotions looked like. We mostly focus on "anger" in this group, because that's what these little kiddos with Emotional Disturbances are most troubled by, but we also were able to work on "sad" and "excited," too. After we reviewed the emotional side of things, we reviewed all the different ways to relax when upset, and practiced a few all together, like deep breathing and counting backwards.

After we finished our review, Mr. S and I each took two kiddos to break up and work through scenarios from the Skillstreaming in Early Childhood manual, Skill #28. We gave each boy a scenario or two and had them go through the steps we've been learning:

  • Identify the feeling
  • Notice how the body feels
  • Relax and calm down
  • Stop
  • (next we'll add "Think" and "Problem Solve")

While they acted out the steps, Mr. S and I helped their partner identified each one. For instance, as each kiddo was modeling how their body felt, the partner pointed out different things the body was doing that meant they were angry or sad (i.e. growling, clenched hands, arms crossed, stomping feet, red face). Then as a trio, we would pick a calming down strategy and practice it together. J came up with a great strategy all on his own--singing the alphabet slowly. I praised him up and down for that good idea, and of course, we all sang it together (his teacher was also impressed, because the class is missing a lot of foundational skills needed for first grade, like letter recognition and sound-symbol correspondence). After we practiced in pairs, we came back to the large group and had J and D, the more put together kiddos of the day, model for everyone. 

The biggest challenge with these kiddos is getting them to sit after our activity or lesson to process. Even with Mr. S's help, the boys had a lot of trouble sitting back down on the rug and listening for a few minutes of talking about what we did today and what we learned. They were under tables, standing by bulletin boards, rolling/laying on the floor, etc. The processing at the end of a lesson is important to me to sum things up and set up the next lesson, but I feel like I leave group lately with things hanging unfinished. On the upside, this was a worthwhile lesson, and it seems like at least the kiddos are remembering what we talk about in group--even if they can't always practice it!

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  1. Hi! I'm a psychologist who often runs groups for kids, usually boys, less than 10 years old; usually kids with behaviour difficulties, ADHD, ASD, ID etc.
    I have recently found that creating a group table helps. We re-arrange the room to create a different-from-normal setting and push together a few tables so we can all face each other. Sitting at tables has really decreased the fidgeting and silliness. We get up and do our crazy activities and the kids find it easier to transition back to tabletop than to floor time.
    I have also begun using balance cushions for my wrigglers and that has helped immensly.
    Good luck getting your kids to transition and calm!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! A separate group area is a fantastic idea, and something I did with an older group I ran. It definitely separates the typical classroom areas from the "group work" area, physically and mentally.


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