Supporting confident talkers   Leave a comment

UPDATE 17/11/15

These cards have now been updated and relaunched under a new name – please see this link for full details  but the main difference is the change of name, and there are no longer called ‘Fink Cards’

A couple of weeks ago I received a complimentary set of Laura Henry’s Fink Cards. At the time  though I was extremely busy trying to get my assignments finished and submitted to university, however even the quick glance that I gave the cards proved to me that they were well thought out and would be extremely useful in my role as an early years practitioner, and the tutor.

I sent Laura a quick message to say thank you and promised to write a blog about the cards as soon as possible however unfortunately my other commitments did not make this possible. Then last week I read a blog why Kim Benham about how she had used the cards and this not only reminded me about my promise to write a blog but also gave me a light bulb moment about how I could give a different viewpoint and suggestions for use of the cards outside my role as an early years practitioner. If you’d like to read Kim’s blog please

So here is my thoughts on the Fink cards and ways in which I think I can use them outside my role as an early years practitioner.

Some readers may be aware that as well as a childminder I am also a foster carer, and although I do not blog about the specific children I care for I do find a lot of similarities in their needs as older children and young people, to the needs of the under fives I care for as a childminder.

This week the number of our foster children has risen from one to three, and in doing so has made me think about the needs of foster children and in particular when the family group increases. All foster children have very complex needs due to their life experiences and most will have found ways of dealing with this some of which include what might be termed as negative behaviour but in fact is not negative behaviour it is surviving behaviour. One of the issues I have identified is that foster children are often very confused about their own needs and how to ensure adults understand their needs, they will express their needs in roundabout ways and often not ask direct questions or explain themselves very well. Personally I feel this is self protective behaviour in that they are not sure how adults will respond, if they will be blamed or punished for expressing their needs, and so often hide their feelings and their needs which in turn leads to more surviving type behaviour.

Having read Kim’s blog, and totally agreeing with how the Fink Cards can be used with preschool children and indeed in training workshops and staff development, I wanted to look at them through the eyes of a foster carer because I think they have huge potential in supporting foster children to express their thoughts and in making the needs known, as well as generally supporting conversations and language development.

The cards themselves are colour-coded into sections which means you could work through a colour-coded section at a time, or mix and match to meet an individual or group of children’s needs, or if working with children who are able to read could play a game by putting the cards facedown at the table and taking turns to draw a card and depending on the question on the card using it to start a group or individually based discussion. For use with primary or secondary age foster children I think looking at the cards and selecting the ones that will support the children currently working with would produce the best outcomes, and then drawing a card with everyone playing having opportunity to answer the question but also just as importantly to say pass because it must be recognised that some children will not be ready to answer the questions but may have been listened to others answering the question including the foster carers may give them either confidence to answer on anothe occasion, or to reflect within their heads about their own situation and feelings. Pressure should not be put on the children to answer the questions and they certainly should not be winners and losers based on who takes part and who doesn’t, but I feel the opportunity to raise these issues within an informal and game-based way would be very beneficial to both foster children and foster carers.

These are some of the questions I particularly think would be suitable;
From the pink section
Tell me about your family? (Could break this down to say siblings or parents or grandparents and so on)
What does it feel like? (Ideal opportunity to item of clothing bracket to this question such as to live here?, to change school?, to not live with your parents? And so on)                                                                                                                                  Why is this special to you? (Could add item of clothing, toy or book, and so on)
What makes your day special?

What can you tell me about these objects? (So things brought from home, previous foster home, or things in photographs)
From the green section

What does this make you think of?

How do you know this? (Good for discussing and challenging assumptions)

What would happen if you …..? (excellent open-ended question for helping foster children to explore differences between their family home expectations and the foster home expectations, and of course consequences at home and indeed at school)

I’m going to stop adding questions from the cards at this point as I only wanted to raise awareness of the types of questions and ways in which they could be used with foster children rather than giving all the information from the Fink cards as a course it will be much more beneficial to purchase the cards, to evaluate how you will use them, reflect on using them and adapt to use with the children in your care.

If you’d like more information about the Fink cards or to buy some please follow the link (please note there are more than one set of Fink cards in this review is about the set by Laura Henry)

finally please note that 10% of all sales from confident talkers will be donated to set up by the Sunderland FC striker Jarmain Defoeto support homeless, vulnerable and abused young people in both his and Laura’s families’ home country of St Lucia.

Posted September 16, 2015 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

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