How curious questioning can lead to further understanding mental health in children

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July 11, 2024

Each month the Blue Mental Health Support team host mental health forums, encouraging teachers to attend so mental health in children can be discussed and further understood. Rebecca Meagher, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, led last month’s forum focused on curiosity. The learning outcome of the session was for teachers to understand the importance of exploring a child`s understanding of their experiences, using curiosity.

The benefit of these sessions is so teachers can voice their queries and concerns regarding the focus topic. Rebecca noted down some highlights from this specific forum which are discussed throughout this blog post.

The mental health forum reiterated the importance of early intervention and spotting those in need of intervention early. Rebecca guided the teachers through a presentation breaking down mental health statistics such as how 1 in 5 children have a probable mental health disorder. She then continued to explain about Socratic questioning and curious questioning, for example, using open-ended questions that encourage elaboration.

The group also explored case studies, such as a child feeling unable to access a new area of the classroom and maintaining familiarity. Rebecca used this example to think about how the teachers could explore the experience for the child using language and exploration suitable for EYFS. As a group they then solved how they could work with the child on how to explore new areas once an understanding of the experience was understood from the child’s perspective.

Teachers also shared examples of assuming they know how a child feels, “naming” emotions for a child, “suggesting a child must feel a certain way” and providing answers for a child to support their coping. They then reflected on how they could use curious questioning practices within their own busy classrooms.

Staff found that the greatest barriers to modifying the way they hear children firstly is “time” and secondly “commitment”, due to strain of time and other priorities they have as teachers.

Additionally, there was some great feedback to come out of the session, please see below for some quotes from attendees:

“Each session I have attended has had relevant and meaningful content. The forum is a lovely opportunity for like-minded professionals to meet and share experiences and practice. The CPD delivered as part of the session is always incredibly useful and interesting, and I always leave thinking how we can reflect on our provision as a result of the new things I’ve learned. Thank you!”

“Don’t get rid of this opportunity.  It needs to be protected. We don’t get this time or experience anywhere else.”

 “The sessions remind you of skills and nuggets of information you have forgotten about or have filed away and you can relate to current children again and think carefully about intervention.”

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