Thursday, 10 December 2020

Mindscreen Experience Raising Self Confidence in Children - Part 3

In the foreground, a drinking glass with water in it and a long, thin green leaf and, in the background, a laptop featuring the Mindscreen logo
 We've come to the end of our Mindscreen Experience and we wanted to share one last update with our progress and thoughts on how it went. In case you haven't caught up with Looking After Children's Mental Health with Mindscreen and Review of the Mindscreen Experience Part 2, I've been taking part in a review of the Mindscreen Experience program with my teenage son. Mindscreen provides a toolkit of resources to enable you to measure and improve your child's self-confidence, by helping you work together to find out how they feel now and guiding you through lesson plans and worksheets to improve their self-esteem and self-confidence. 

My overall impression of the Mindscreen Experience is that it offers very good value for money. This is the first thing I noticed. A lot of thought has clearly gone into its production and development and this is evident from the quality of the materials that come with the program. Everything you need is provided, from lesson plans and guides for yourself to learner diaries and handouts for your child, it's all there, just waiting to be printed out.  The course is well structured, easy to follow and offers a variety of different ways to connect with your child. Sometimes it can be hard to open up a conversation about self-esteem or self-confidence, particularly with teens (hello eye-rolls and disinterested sighs), but when you are working your way through a series of exercises, it is far less awkward, because you are both focused on the tasks and, since it's not coming from mum or dad,  it's far less of a drag anyway! 

The course is designed for one or multiple children, but I could see the advantage of having more than one child for some of the activities. I recruited my daughter to join in for one or two of the tasks, for example when you were required to demonstrate the physical representation of different emotions. It was much easier to have a third person there so that I could focus on highlighting the characteristics and differences between the emotions. All the modules are fully adaptable, though, so you can change things around slightly if you need to, to make them work for your situation. You can also approach the course differently with older or younger children. For older children, such as my teenage son, I found it helped to let him read the welcome page for each module himself, so that he felt more involved in the process and was exploring the new ideas himself, instead of being lectured by me. However, you may find with younger children that the text for the welcome, and also for the activities, can seem a bit overwhelming, so you could read it to them, to keep them engaged and interested. Since the course is focused on self-esteem, I think it's better if they don't get bogged down with the reading, if they will find it difficult. 

Something else we discovered throughout the course is that not all the modules have the same level of appeal. I expect different modules will appeal to different children, but I definitely found it easier to keep engagement high on certain modules and there were a couple that he wasn't so keen on and light bribery was required. His favourite module looking back was Easy Awareness, as he felt he gained the most insight from this one. This module helps you learn more about your own characteristics and what you are good at. This knowledge helped to build his confidence and also gave him a base of information that he could use to pick tasks, courses and jobs that he would be good at, meaning he would be more likely to enjoy them and be successful. 

Three workbooks from the Mindscreen programme spread out, with some green post its on top, overlaid with a sparkly red glitter effect

The module he struggled most to get on board with was Easy Study Choice because he has just taken his GCSE options, so he found the discussion around study choices a little repetitive. He has the attention span of an angry gnat at the best of times, so he's not great at going over something he's had enough of. This would be a brilliant module pre-GCSE options though, and in our case, I asked him to think about it for his A levels, which got us through. Most of the modules have the flexibility to change aspects if it's not working for you, which is a really useful tool, since not all children are the same. In fact, the point of some of the modules is to help you and your child find out how best they learn, so you end up in a really good position to help them get the most out of the course, from taking part in the course!

I don't think it's just my opinion that's relevant here, so there follows a quote from my son, who really wanted to be a big part of this review because his issues with anxiety and self-confidence have been a real problem in his life and he would love to help other children with similar issues. He is 14, so not the most forthcoming with long explanations and tends to focus on the negative, so his review reflects this. It's also worth considering that children (even big ones) aren't always aware when they've learned something and I think my son gained a lot more from the course than he currently realises! 

"I feel that the course is something that has helped me improve my state of mind and each module offered some benefit to me, especially the ones where I had to think about what I'm good at. Not all the modules suited me personally, but I felt I learned something from each one and I think different modules will appeal to different types of people. There were a lot of words, which sometimes made it tiring, so I didn't like doing it after school, only on weekends. Personally, I felt it was a bit formal and could have been livened up with some colour, especially for younger children who might be using it, but I liked that it wasn't condescending and think this makes it more suitable for teenagers. My favourite module was Easy Awareness because it taught me so much about how I'm feeling and how to manage it. I thought there was a lot of writing and I already do a lot of writing at school, so I prefered it when mum did some of the writing parts. Overall, I think the idea of the course is amazing and there is a lot of potential to improve self-confidence and help children be more aware of how they feel and how to handle their anxiety, but I think it would be easier if it was more entertaining, because some times it felt a bit like school."

I feel that the comments about it being a bit like school are more a reflection on my delivery of the course than the course itself. Towards the end, I got the hang of it a bit more, but I don't think I was organised enough at the start so I couldn't deliver the course fast enough to keep him on task. There is a wealth of information in the guides and on the website to help you with this so that one is definitely on me! From my point of view, some of the areas that I felt were improved for my son by doing the course were: self-confidence, because he learned what he was good at, self-esteem because he learned about the different traits and skills that people have and that this isn't a bad thing, and a brighter outlook because he learned that he has control over his life and that the choices he makes can have a positive effect. As well as the more immediate benefits from the course, the handouts and booklets can be kept, so we can go back over segments as and when he needs to. I think these will be a really beneficial resource to reinforce what he has learned in the future. 

Pinterest Image: A child from above using a computer with the Mindscreen logo on the screen

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