I was talking to a pastoral worker who delivers group work interventions across school this week and she was talking about a year 6 girl who had been referred as she was always calling out, couldn’t sit still and found it very hard not to interrupt when other people were talking. I suggested the pastoral worker talked to the tow children at the start of the group and explain that this was an opportunity for them to develop new skills and practice things they found difficult. As she was explaining about practising the child looked anxious and unsure, so the pastoral worker acknowledged that it can feel strange being in a small group and maybe feeling unsure about what they were going to do. As the pastoral worker was explaining this to me after the session it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps this child didn’t know what practice meant. In schools and particularly in year 6 school staff are often talking about the children practising things. I suggested she start the next session by talking about practising and checking that both children understood what it meant. This child admitted that she didn’t know, and felt worried every time someone talked about practising things, but didn’t want to ask. The pastoral worker asked if she could pass this on to her class teacher to enable her to help her with this and the child agreed.
There has been a dramatic change in this child’s behaviour since then, she is able to sit still, wait her turn and focus on her work more easily. It made me think about how often we may make assumptions about children’s understanding of words that we use all the time.