ELSA, Lego Therapy and adult mentors
Some children will require greater support to increase their emotional literacy than others. ELSA is an initiative developed and supported by educational psychologists. It recognises that children learn better and are happier in school if their emotional needs are also addressed.
The Emotional Literacy Support Assistants at Lawn Primary School have been trained by educational psychologists in Kent to plan and deliver programmes of support for children who are experiencing temporary or longer term additional emotional needs. The majority of ELSA work is delivered on an individual basis, but sometimes small group work is more appropriate, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills. Sessions are fun, we use a range of activities such as: games, role-play, art and craft and mindfulness meditation.
These help to:
- Encourage co-operation with others
- Build self-esteem through positive social interaction
- Demonstrate effective social behaviour
- Create imaginary situations to discuss the feelings of others
- Use age appropriate storytelling as a tool. Various aspects of emotional matters and development can be explored in a safe way.
ELSA takes place in Elm Lodge which provides a calm, safe space for the child to feel supported and nurtured.
In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs:
- Recognising emotions
- Developing social skills
- Friendship skills
- Anger management
- Loss and bereavement
How does ELSA work?
Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their class teacher, senior leaders or the SENDCo. Every week Elm Lodge meet with the Headteacher who is in charge of pastoral care, to discuss any referrals and to identify and prioritise which children require a weekly programme for the next available slot. With the programme aims in mind we then plan support sessions to facilitate the pupils in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.
The overall aim is to equip the children that require ELSA intervention with strategies to self manage some of their emotional needs. The ELSA programme is not designed to 'fix' children's problems but to provide emotional support to help them to continue to access learning through life's ups and downs.
We aim to establish a warm, respectful relationship with the children and to provide a reflective space where they are able to share their thoughts and feelings honestly without judgement.
Lego therapy is a collaborative play therapy in which children work together to build Lego models
Instead of building Lego sets by themselves, children work in pairs or teams of 3. The task of Lego building is divided into different roles such that social interaction is necessary to participate. By doing this, children practice key skills of collaboration, joint attention, fair division of labour, sharing, turn-taking, eye-contact, gaze following, verbal and non-verbal communication.
How does Lego Therapy work?
Lego Therapy follows these steps:
- Each child learns a clear set of rules and Lego building, building rules.
- They are then introduced to the other children who will be in the group.
- Everyone in the group agrees upon a project which is achievable for everyone involved.
- Each child is assigned a role for the project. Roles are rotated throughout therapy.
- The group works together to build the Lego building structure according to the principles of play therapy.
What are the rules of Lego Therapy?
Lego therapy building rules can be customised according to the abilities and skills of each individual. Common rules include:
- Structures must be built together by the group
- If you break something, you have to fix it or ask for help to fix it.
- If another group member is using something and you want it, ask for it. Don't just take it.
- Use quiet indoor voices.
- Use kind and polite words.
- Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
- At the end, tidy everything away and put it back where it came from.
What are the roles in Lego therapy?
Different roles in Lego therapy are:
- Engineer oversees the design and ensures the instructions are followed.
- Builder: puts the bricks together.
- Supplier: keeps track of which size, shape and colour bricks are needed and passes them to the builder.
- Director: ensures the team is working together and communicating well.
Roles rotate throughout the session so that every child gets to try each role - this helps stimulate different aspects within the child.
Adult mentors can be any adult in the school who the child feels they can go to for help and advice, when they are having difficulties. The teacher or an adult from Tier 2 will help the child establish who their mentor can be. This is usually an adult the child feels they can talk to.