Today I wanted to share 2 of the most common mistakes I’ve noticed that people make about children with vulnerable mental health.
1. “I should micro-manage their learning.”
Yes, of course there needs to be planned, incremental units of learning for those pupils who have barriers to learning- poor learning behaviours, learning difficulties, special needs etc. However, resourcefulness is about being able to adapt to different learning situation. It is about taking risks, making autonomous decisions and taking responsibility for your own learning.
This type of learning opportunity is often offered to the gifted and talented, yet the less able and emotionally vulnerable need the challenge of active learning rather than passively having their learning carefully managed for them.
Consider planning more open-ended activities where the journey is more important than the destination.
2. “I judge learning to have taken place when they give me sensible replies.”
Seeing patterns and relationships is an aspect of intelligence with which many emotionally vulnerable children struggle. Their apparently random life- experiences can result can be a loose necklace of assorted beads that lack coherence. Coupled with under-developed learning strategies, the vulnerable child is often not a reasoned one.
They are often slow to get started, can come up with serendipitous solutions unconnected to the topic yet can also be quite absorbed and unaware that the class has moved on.
Not being ‘sensible’ or calling out random (to you) ideas is all part of them trying to be a good learner. Asking them to explain the process that led them to their answer will lead nowhere. it is not based on any logical sequence.
Can we draw these pupils to the attention of your staff?
These pupils will need support to understand connections and sequences in order to transfer learning. Teachers can be their best help with this. If teachers explain what they do when faced with not knowing or not knowing what comes next, it will enable pupils to understand the processing that happens. If teachers ask effective learners to explain their own processing, this can be caught and taught to others.