1. Establishing respectful, professional relationships with children and young people: 1.1
When working with young children we need to adjust our behaviour and communication to the situation we are in for example going down to a child’s level when speaking to them so they don’t feel intimidated by you. Coming across as approachable to a child is very important so they can feel confident around you and feel like they trust you. All children need to feel they are safe and appreciated and when we interact with them we should make sure we demonstrate this. It is important that we establish these relationships early on and that we continually behave this way with them, praising children is very important. All children of all abilities and cultures need to feel they are valued and are in a valued and a secure environment, you should exhibit this when interacting with them. It is important that your relationship with the children you work with starts off right!
This means implementing ground rules and mutual respect from the start. You need to show interest and concern when interacting with children this can help to build trust. For example if a child is playing with building blocks on the floor I would ask them an open question that included praise like “that’s interesting, can you tell me what’s going on in the picture?” This encourages autonomy for the child to think for themselves and explore their own ideas and use of vocabulary. Offering choice to the child is important because more independent thinkers, and when they choose something they thrive at and enjoy this improves their self-esteem.
Appropriate behaviour for stages of development: Behaving appropriately with children and young people whilst they develop is important. When communicating with children and young people it is important that you remember what stages of development they are. Lots of children of different ages and needs will need different levels of support and attention you have to mould their needs and their concentration level. As I begin to work with different age groups and ability’s I can recognise the different features within the children. When working with SEN children it is important I talk to my co-workers who have assessed the child’s stages of development so I know which areas to focus on most.
Children in foundation stages and key stage 1 (age 4 to 6)
This is a very young age range and they are still developing their language and communication skills. Little things like when you are speaking to a child make lots of eye contact and come down to their level so you don’t come across as intimidating and don’t tower over them. In my afterschool club we have a talking session where the children take it in turns to talk using our talking stick, I still have to remind the children not to talk over one and other and to listen to each other. This activity helps them learn communication skills. After giving a child instructions to do something i.e. please tidy up the Lego, I ask them to repeat it back to me so I know they understand what I’ve asked of them. This is the age group I work with and we have to factor in that the children struggle to concentrate for long periods of time and that young children excite easily so we are prepared if we change from the routine they know.
Children in Key stage 2 (age 7 to 11)
When children start key stage 2, a lot of the children will have matured when they communicate. They will be able to converse with you having become used to the social structure of conversation and will be less ‘self- orientated’. Some children will have more consideration and ask others to speak first. But, some pupils still have to be reminded about taking turns when talking.
Children in Key stage 3 and 4 (age 11 to 16)
Children at this age should be used to formal and informal language, they will understand how to communicate with others and know how to use social media like texting and Facebook to keep in touch with each other. Teenagers can become shy and self-conscious when speaking out loud so to help them regain confidence have them speak out loud in smaller groups. It is more than likely that children whose first language isn’t English will take longer to develop and understand English. So their speech pattern may be different to others. Children’s development won’t be stopped because they are learning another language but you need to handle the child in a sensitive way so their identity is valued.
Dealing with disagreements between children and young people: Dealing with disagreements between children and their classmates is a regular occurrence especially in early years and key stage 1. Managing their arguments you need to get both sides of the story from the beginning. It is important that the other child gets to share what happened and that they feel they have been herd. When dealing with disagreements you need to find out who is in the wrong and if they need to apologise to one and other. If the arguments continues after it was settled refer to another staff member. It’s important to lead by example so the children learn the value of compromise.
It is important that children are able to understand how their behaviour can be affected by their own feelings it is good to talk with them about this they have a better understanding. For example saying to a child “I know its upset you that you couldn’t do ceramics today “ this will help them see the connection between emotion and behaviour. This will help them understand about thinking of others and consideration. Where I work a useful activity called ‘circle time’ helps the children understand others feelings and turn taking. Sometimes our younger children struggle sitting for long periods of time so we don’t make the sessions to long however this activity can be used with older children too.
A) Promote effective interactions with children and young people: Children will constantly look up to adults and will follow the lead of the adults around them. When we show good behaviour children will take this in and start to show good behaviour as well. You must follow the guidelines and rules of your work place, be polite and respectful towards colleges and pupils, dress in an appropriate manner. Treat everyone with fairness and be aware of your approach to situations being co-operative and offering help to others is important when building relationships.
B) Impact negatively on interactions with children and young people Children are going to be watching and listening and always taking in what you say. The class room teacher and the teaching assistant and the rest of the teaching staff are important to the children and big influences. Lots of children idolise their teachers so it’s important the teachers have good qualities that affect the child that they can then imitate and achieve good behaviour e.g. if you swear in front of your child this teaches them that foul language is okay. Another example is a teacher who favourites particular students could make another student feel left out and alone this will defiantly affect their self-esteem. Another example is if there is a teacher that comes across as angry and unhappy this can have a negative impact on the child.
How to establish respectful, professional relationships with adults: Working with adults whether it be in or outside of school, you need an environment to work in that has openness and support from one and other. In the school environment you won’t be able to work solitarily or independently to others, also it wouldn’t be very realistic to think that you could. Although you will need to keep up professionalism in the school environment, you should also support your colleges, parents of pupils and any other adults in a professional and sensitive way. The relationships you have with adults may be: your co-workers, volunteers, members of the school team. You will work with parents and guardians, and with other professionals who support children with additional needs such as speech therapists.
As a teaching assistant I come in to contact with a variety of professionals who are involved with children’s education and welfare whilst at school, from dinner staff, school club staff to social care workers and school nurses. I will have different relationships with these groups of people but must maintain a professional manner regardless of the situation. Depending on the circumstances and who you are talking to your behaviour will change. For example if you bump into a college at the supermarket you will be less formal when talking with them. As a teaching assistant I am in contact with many people and I am like to be seen and heard by those in my community who know me in the capacity of a teaching assistant, it is part of my responsibility to behave in an appropriate manner even when not at work
Adult relationships as role models for children and young people: It should always be remembered that when you are constantly working with young children you are regarded as a role model in their eyes whether you like it or not. Social learning theory means the people learn from one another through observation, imitation and modelling. We (teaching assistants) can put this into practice as role models, by displaying, kind, compassionate behaviour in hopes that the children we teach will observe imitate and model the behaviour. For example as a teaching assistant I prise the children when their behaviour is good i.e. when tidying up which encourages them to continue. They in turn mimic this good work / behaviour and praise pattern when interacting with their peers. By leading as a positive role model, I am well placed as a teaching assistant to demonstrate to the children how collaboration, negotiation, effective communication and team work make for a success.
3. Know how to communicate with children, young people and adults 3.1 Communication across different age ranges and stages of development: Whilst children grow older the way in which we communicate with them grows as well. From teaching babies their first words, to thoughtful in-depth discussions with young adults. As a teaching assistant I can change how I communicate with different age ranges, for example with my year 1 class I am very direct and use clear language they will understand so they have a good grasp of the topic or the task. And with older children I can have a more in-depth conversations and let them find and figure out things with less assistants.
Describe the main differences between communication with adults and communication with children and young people: When communicating with children in my care I will try to communicate as clearly as possible by using words and phrases their age group understand, listening and taking in what the children say, responding positively, verbal and non-verbal communication such as nodding, eye contact, hand gestures etc. Smiling, encouraging and praising always, giving support to the children whilst communicating.
When communicating with adults I work with I use language we both understand, try to support other adults and be professional, make eye contact, respect other people’s ideas even though I may not agree with them. The school I work in we only go by are first names this was made to make communication between parents and carers and the children more affective. So there would be less of a gap between the staff and parents and to be seen as more approachable. Some people do not agree with being on first name basses with their pupils and see that being addressed by their last name is a sign of respect.
In my work there are a number of families who have English as an additional language so my body language becomes more relevant when communicating with them. Many children are bilingual in my work place. For some parents written communication is preferred as they have little contact with the school or myself. Electronic communication is a fundamental part of school life, the school even has a Facebook page.
Adapting Communication: In a previous placement of mine we had a child who wore a hearing aide so a one on one was hired to teach her sign language so she could further her communication skills however lots of children won’t get this opportunity so it’s important to have a clear communication by doing little things like putting the deaf child at the front of the class so they have better visuals.
3.5 Dealing with Disagreements:
Disagreements in schools unfortunately are quite common occurrence. Time and time again the disagreements are down to miscommunication, these disagreements should be handled with care so that people don’t carry bad feelings towards the other person for a long time. Sometimes in the work place and with other adults we can misunderstand or misread the wrong thing when someone has communicated with us when they haven’t. Sometimes we can blame others for things we’ve interpreted as something else or being argumentative and not agreeing for their point of view. If an argument occurs with other adults it is important to resolve the situation with sensitivity on both parts and try and the problem as soon as possible. If the problem is left to stew and there is nothing done about it, it will only get worse.
If the problem cannot only be resolved by you ask your line manager to ‘help out’ and act as the mediator. Working in an atmosphere of tension is horrible and very hard almost impossible to work in, it is important to take action as soon as you can because the problem won’t go away on its own. It is inappropriate and you shouldn’t get in to an argument with the child or young person you work with. If a child is persistent and wants to argue with you, you should both take yourself away from the situation for a ‘time out’. If the problem continues seek advice from your colleges who may have worked with child previously or who have been in similar situations.
Know about current legislation, policies and procedures for confidentiality and sharing information, including data protection 4.1 legal requirements and procedures: If you work with children and young people you should have some understanding of the current legislation as it will affect your work in the context of the area you are working in. Young adults for instance have different legislation, when it comes to them being able to make choices , Gilick competent young adults are empowered to make choices for themselves that may be in opposition to their careers / parents etc. For younger children such as where I work, there is a broad range of legislation to protect children; The Children’s Act 2004 focused on an integrated approach to children’s services so that a streamlined service for children would protect them and allow for their use of social and medical services to be standardised and able to cover children even when they move from one geographical area to another.
Communication between agencies such as schools, police, social care and the NHS was supposed to be improved by the Childrens Act. The common assessment framework (CAF) was devised to help with this process. As a teaching assistant I may be asked to contribute to information when assessing a childs, needs this could be used for the childs CAF chart. As a teaching assistant I am in a position of responsibility and just as I have a right to confidentiality so do the children in my care.
The Data protection Act 1998 was designed to protect the individual from the vulnerabilities of having personal information shared inappropriately to unconnected agencies or business or for criminals to be able to exploit someone by having access to private information. Only relevant information should be asked for and stored in a secure manner from the parents and cares of the children. As a teaching assistant I have to respect their privacy and the sensitive nature of the information that I may come into contact with. When children’s plan of education is being discussed at school meetings, only relent confidential information should be discussed. There is an obligation on schools, nurseries and school clubs to only keep the information for as long as is necessary.
Reassuring children, young people and adults about confidentiality: Children need to know that their confidence is important to me as a teaching assistant, however I also have an obligation to report information to relevant people such as the police, social services the head teacher or other relevant person, for instance should a child reveal that they are victims of abuse. It may be that as a teaching assistant I am asked to advise children on how to keep themselves safe when on the internet, by teaching then to keep their personal information confidential.
Sometimes information has to be shared, should a child in my care become ill it may be relevant to share the information of an allergy to a doctor. Most information that is confidential would require the consent of the child’s parent before being shared but emergency care and where there is a legal obligation to disclose information would override this. Parents and carers also need to know that the teaching assistant is an honest responsible person who is able to take the information that is confidential and only share it when necessary.
In certain circumstances it is necessary to breach confidentiality and tell others, such as, cases of a child or young person who is suspected of being abused or at risk of harm. It must be remembered that you cannot tell a child/young person you can keep their confidence a secret if they say something of concern, this is to keep you and them safe.
Courtney from Study Moose
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