I’ve probably had one of my best mornings of the year today. I’m currently sat having a cuppa in one of my favourite cafes and you can’t wipe the smile off my face. I feel totally fulfilled right now, as if I’m doing the right thing at the right time.
Why? You might wonder. Has Michelle landed a fab job, secured a holiday, lost a stone (if only)? No, nothing quite so dramatic, nor so self-focused. What I’ve done this morning is have my regular one hour appointment with a child that I am coaching through the Christian charity TLG. I won’t tell you any specifics about the little boy I meet as that’s not appropriate but basically he is someone who is struggling at school.
Generally TLG take coaches into school to meet with children who need someone on their side. Often they are on the verge of exclusion, regularly being sent out of class, having volatile interactions with their peers or maybe completely withdrawing. Misunderstanding and unhappiness can of course manifest differently in each child and some don’t even know why they are not happy, they just live in a loop of anger and desperation causing poor choices and negative consequences.
I’ve been meeting my little mate (that’s what I call him) since September last year. We have just one hour each week in school that is time for him. TLG have set up their coaching resources perfectly and I have a whole host of tools I can use to fill 20 minutes with meaningful conversation – exploring actions, consequences and choices and the other 40 minutes is about fun, bonding and being together. Many coaches craft with their pupil and before Christmas we did this, making gifts for his family but now we have settled into a routine of game playing. He loves Uno, cards, monopoly, connect 4 – you name it, we’ve played them all.
The value of this game playing can’t be underestimated as I’ve seen him grow in fairness, integrity and honesty over the last five months and I pray those good choices he makes when he is with me start to feed through to the rest of his life. Today, for the first time we played the Anger Solution Game and it is an excellent resource to help your child explore their own feelings, hear your model answers and keep the child focused on gaining their counters and winning ultimately, so they don’t really realise how deeply they are opening up.
Today my little mate honestly talked about both the good and the bad of his week and he felt confident and comfortable to do so. He has worked hard against his target the last few weeks and as such next week during half term he will come out with my girls and I to our local seaside and the kids will all scoot the prom, play in the park and have fish and chips. Or if the weather isn’t so great then maybe they’ll swim but I hope this helps him to believe that kids who try hard are a pleasure to be with and they get rewards.
Could you volunteer?
TLG are always looking for new coaches. Maybe you’d like to do what I do? It would require a commitment of one hour a week for an academic year and you get allotted one child to get to know and work with. There is no academic work involved and you are the master of your own sessions but be reassured you’ll be trained before you start, you have an easy to use recording system, you’ll have a local co-ordinator and a prayer partner and there is always someone to help or talk to if you need to. For more information head to the TLG website.
I’m lining this post up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for Reasons to be Cheerful (or #R2BC). She is hosting for the rest of February and then 2nd March it will be back with me over on Mummy from the Heart.