In previous posts, we’ve talked about the four phases we address with every skill in spark* and spark*EL.
First, we teach children to become aware of their abilities to self-regulate. Then we focus on the need to modulate their behavior, thinking and emotions in different places and at different times. Third, we help children to become more resilient in their use of self-regulation so they can cope better in everyday life. The last phase is teaching them self-advocacy.
This is another unique features of the spark* model.
Sometimes, being able to cope isn’t enough – there’s too much going on, the child is tired or feeling overwhelmed. Children need to know they can help themselves. They need to learn there are alternatives to having a meltdown, running away, or hiding.
In the spark* model, we help them choose healthier alternatives BEFORE things become overwhelming.
I recall a child whose kindergarten teacher flicked the lights on and off in her classroom when the children got too noisy. This fellow used the same strategy to signal to his classmates and teacher that he was having difficulty coping with the noise level. He hopped up on his own and flicked the light switch. I was thrilled by his self-advocacy skills. He could have done all sorts of less appropriate things (like melting down) but he chose a positive alternative. Although the teacher wasn’t with his taking control of the light switch, this provided a wonderful opportunity for his teacher to show him other ways to advocate for himself.
Besides developing resilience, self-advocacy is a critical life skill for our children. They need to learn they can cope but, when things get to be too much, they can do something to help themselves.
All four phases used in spark* and spark*EL (awareness of ability, awareness of need, resilience, self-advocacy) are critical to any learning model.