Continuing on with our program after the extensive holiday break, we will move on to the subject of Perceptions. It seems to be that the children are so mired in blame and shame that they don't have any concept that there might be a different way to see things. We will present activities that will help bring about discussion and the ability to see things from another's point of view.
In the first activity we are using the optical illusion photos. We pair the children up and have them look at their set of pictures and then change to another set. Each one talks about what they have seen. It is rare that everyone sees the same thing and that brings about a fun and lively discussion to bring attention to the subject.
Next we hand each child a tablet of black "chalkboard" paper and chalk. Half of the room will be given a tablet with a simple geometric design on it. They may not show it to the partner with the blank tablet, but will describe the design so that the opposing partner can duplicate the design. It is such a fun activity because when the partners share the pictures it is always a good laugh. The , "Oh, I thought you said", or , "I thought I said"... helps us talk about how we see things differently, and there is no blame or shame in that, only people trying to communicate and get their needs met.
The second part to this exercise is to learn how to get all the information. Part of the problem of misperceptions is in the children's lack of information. Part of the plan for this unit took place months ago in the training of our staff. We train staff to ask questions, don't offer advice, say things like, "You need to...". Staff is trained to listen with intent to hear what the child has to say, not so they can give answers or make pronouncements.
Once we complete the two activities, the children are open to discussion about times when they were frustrated because they couldn't get someone to listen to them or understand what they meant. We add to the discussion that all any of us are trying to do is meet one or more of our Needs.
It is difficult to help the children believe it is okay to get information. We talk about how they can meet their needs when they don't see things the way others' do. Jim, Cesar and I visit the group homes often to explain the rules we work under, help the children learn how to get what they want, and make it OK to ask questions.