When working with young people its really important to keep stocking up your toolkit so you have a variety of ‘go to’ resources which you know work as well as some new ones you can experiment with. At Cherished we are really proud of the fact that we provide all of our mentors with not only personal and professional supervision we also provide them with creative supervision ! As of October all of our mentors will meet with Trish our creative supervisor who will support our ladies in making the mentoring sessions creative and varied. We really cannot wait ! Our ladies are going to have their very own creative genius !
This blog has been written by a great supporter of Cherished, Craig is a qualified Youth and community worker and has a lot of experience in working with young people in a mentoring capacity. Thanks Craig for your creative ideas , we are defo going to pinch these!
Before we think about resources I want you to imagine that you are a chef on the latest series of MasterChef. You have a well-stocked kitchen, with choices of meats, vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits and any equipment you could imagine. Your challenge is to create a plate of food that both tastes amazing and looks amazing and it’s your job as the chef to use the right ingredients and equipment to make that happen.
In the same way, when working with children and young people we need to make sure we are well stocked with resources, the tools to use them and the ability to adapt the activity appropriately.
Sticking with the kitchen analogy, we need to remember that preparation is incredibly important. Here are some questions that you might find helpful when preparing your mentoring or group work sessions.
Have I got everything for my activities?
What are we going to talk about?
What do I want to leave them with?
How did the last session end?
What unspoken things might we need to speak about?
Getting to know you
Circle of support
This is an activity that I use when I start working with a child to show who is available to the child to support them. Placing the child in the centre and inviting them to write names of people they can turn to when they need support. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a list of best friends or most important people to them but people they can turn to for support.
This also isn’t a list to be used in order, for example they may choose to speak to the person who is last because they see them most often or they need support in school so they speak to their teacher rather than friend.
Ecomaps are another tool I use to learn more about life for the child. It gives a really clear picture about who is in their life and who they feel is a positive influence or a negative influence. Again, the child is in the centre of the page and around them are the biggest areas of their lives, typically school, family and friends. They then list people who are in their areas and connect them using a colour for positive/negative/both.
Reflecting on events
Create a model using plasticise that represents how you feel about school, your friendships, Home, family life or whatever it is you want to explore with
them. I’ve had some really interesting conversations off the back of this; one child I was working with made a bowling ball and skittles to show what they think about school, they said “it’s all over the place” like when the ball hits the skittles. Another child made a comfy arm chair said that it’s a place “that’s relaxing”
The Recipe: 2 cups of corn flour:1 cup of conditioner and mix together
Remember to use really cheap conditioner
You can also add extra bits such as food colouring, glitter or flavourings.
Corn flour goo/slime
2 cups of corn flour:1 cup of water + food colouring/flavourings then mix together
This will make a substance that is like water when it is being moved slowly and gently but then becomes hard when hit.
This is great to make with kids to think about how different situations make them feels different things or as a sensory activity.
Thinking back to the kitchen, we have to taste the food regularly and make adjustments when it’s not quite right, maybe adding something extra, a bit of salt and pepper. Some of this is our responsibility as the chef and some is the responsibility of the person eating.
Reviewing the work and activities we do with children and young people is important so that our sessions are fun and enjoyable but also do what we want; be that change some behaviour, allow space to reflect on experiences or learn about a subject etc. Here are some ways that you can get feedback from the children you spend time with.
3 Quick Questions
What was good about the session?
What would you change about the session?
What are you going to do differently as a result of our session?
Tweet your feedback
Take some advice from Twitter and keep it short and sweet, 140 characters to find out what the children thought of the activities/session
Invite the child/group to draw around their hand on a piece of paper and write some
feedback on each finger
Thumb – something good, something they enjoyed
Index finger – something they would like to point out (could be good or bad)
Middle finger – something bad, something they did not enjoy
Ring finger – something they will treasure from the activity
Little finger – something little they want to add (could be good or bad)
Going back to the kitchen one last time, it’s important to remember that the purpose of cooking is to eat and the children we seek to feed through our activities and mentoring sessions deserve to be fed well with the best we can offer them and with time and care spent preparing what we give to them.
Written by Craig Blair, Youth and Community Worker