When it comes to working with the unique needs of her students, Rockingham Lakes Primary School chaplain Deb Cunningham likes to think outside the box.
Apart from the more conventional social and emotional programs run at the school – Deb has explored other activities to help her students.
“I started seeing Rylan three years ago when he was in pre-primary, just before his Dad passed away,” she said.
“He was having a tough time adjusting both at home and school.”
Rylan completed the Rainbows Program (which helps children deal with grief and loss) as a Year 1 student and Deb has been seeing him one-on-one since then.
She has also used kite flying and building with magnets to help Rylan.
“The magnets are my favourite, they helped me to know who my support people are, those people I can talk to when I’m sad or angry,” Rylan said.
“They also showed me how sometimes friends don’t always want to play together – and that’s ok.”
The unique approach has proved to be quite effective.
“We have seen many improvements in the way Rylan manages himself – he has more self-control over his emotions and his self-confidence and self-esteem are growing,” Deb said.
“When there is a bit of a breeze at school, we sometimes go out to fly the ‘Bat Kite’.
“This encourages Rylan to ‘let go’, especially if he’s been a bit sad or angry.
“Both Rylan and I look forward to our sessions when we can learn together, laugh and have a bit of fun.”