Potential adaptations, including those for secondary schools
Whilst we have written this edition of vOUCHers to suggest a way to implement and embed the vOUCHers, we are also mindful that schools and settings may see potential to adapt it whilst ultimately meeting the emotional needs of your pupils, students and staff.
Exploration and clarifying of feelings
A key theme for us which adds to the success of vOUCHers is the idea…
…of exploring and clarifying emotions before the child or young person is offered a vOUCHer. Without this important step, only a handful of the aims may be achieved. Once the vOUCHer is offered to the person that they wish to receive it, the solution and resolution part is starting, so the opportunity to explore feelings may be lost.
When asking the child or young person the key questions, allow for the pace to slow down. Use encouraging sounds such as, ‘Mmmmm,’ and ‘Go on,’ and ‘you said that you feel ____, what does that mean to you, so that I understand a little bit more.’
Reflect back what they have said to you in a way that allows them to carry out talking, such as ‘You feel sad?’ raising your voice slightly at the end. This shows active listening, lets them hear their words back and offers a chance to develop their words.
Avoid the temptation to put words into their mouths, and listen with an open heart and mind. Remember, the only person who has walked in their shoes is them: offering any form of advice is based on your judgement and not their situation, so avoid this at all costs. Stick to feelings.
On the website are posters that…
…can be downloaded as part of the school edition pack. These can be used to help make display that you are using the vOUCHers. If the displays are kept simple and are replicated in the classrooms, then during transitions, the children/young people will know that their emotional needs will be supported and met.
Not all vOUCHers may be…
…appropriate for your school or class. Tick the ones that as a staff you agree to use on the contents page, as ease of remembering which ones are being used or not. Always read the vOUCHer aloud to the child/young person. Hearing the words back are important.
Picture Exchange Cards (PECs)
The use of PECs in the classroom…
…may not always be suitable or practical for some schools and settings, particularly for those who may have already developed a sense of emotional literacy and are able to maintain or mask their feelings during lesson times.
Children and young people who do find it difficult to maintain in the lesson, thus it spilling out into their behaviours, may benefit from these – including those at secondary school age, depending on their needs and experiences.
Also, be mindful of those masking their feelings but who cannot then focus on their work – this is another sign that support may be needed as they are not able to be emotionally present to learn, and need an immediate recognition of emotion and/or support. This will also help them develop their understanding of their self as to how they feel and that it is OK.
For some children, the card may not offer enough for their sensory need. Please see our SEND page for further ideas.
The Quotes & Details with the Individual vOUCHers
We would recommend that as staff, you become…
…accustomed to them and understand what they mean. Not only for your own mental health and wellbeing check in, but also so that when you are exchanging the PEC for a conversation and ultimately a vOUCHer, that you understand why. This is important for three reasons:
- So that if you are with a child/young person who would understand the words (depending on their age and language ability) the words flow freely.
- If you have a child/young person who may not understand the words, depending on their age, you are able to adapt and make it age appropriate for their needs
- If you have a child/young person who is unable to understand language due to SEN reasons, then you will know which vOUCHer to offer without giving them information overload. These can then be followed up at a later stage to help develop emotional literacy and intelligence.
The Japanese Way & Origami
The offering of the PECs and vOUCHers…
…using two hands shows that you are putting your full effort into the offering. Whilst this may feel strange to do, this is a non-verbal method of communicating to the child/young person. By handing it with one hand or sliding it over without the exchange may be read differently to what is intended.
The vOUCHers are made to be a particular size to allow for origami folding. This is suggested as a mindfulness activity and how to do this can be found here.
For a child / young person who need immediate support with emotional literacy
Some children, particularly those distressed…
…or young ones, may struggle to maintain their emotional needs following a PEC being provided. You may consider this as part of their plan to develop their needs, by extending the time from being supported from immediate, to a minute longer each time. A visual timer, such as a sand-timer, could help with this.
By keeping a track of times when…
…PECs are provided, which PECs and which vOUCHers are used can help form an understanding of the child /young person’s needs and offer a wider picture of need