Strategies to help with thinking skills

A central part of the EPIC approach is the use of psychoeducation and pairing of that knowledge with suitable strategies for facilitating optimal thinking, learning and wellbeing.

Once the child, parent and/or teacher are aware of a child’s difficulties, strategies can then be paired to difficulties to meet an individual child’s needs. In our Strategy booklet, we detail many examples of games and activities that can help with a child’s awareness of their thinking difficulties and easy tips and tools they can use to overcome them. Our current booklet has been developed for teachers but is also suitable for at home use by parents. In our next phase of EPIC we plan to co-produce a strategy booklet specifically for parents working with parents to do so. All of our work has evolved from what is called a ‘co-production’ model – working with children and young people, parents, teachers and clinicians to ensure our research priorities, practices, language use and materials are directed by those that will use them.

The strategies we detail include those that involve internal thinking strategies and external aids. Internal thinking strategies include for example ‘chunking’ which involves grouping or listing things based on similarity. If a child has to hold in mind a series of numbers they could chunk them into something meaningful – 1045 – my brother is 10 and my Dad is 45. Chunking in reading can help to not overwhelm a child with a long piece of text. Seeing the text as broken up into meaningful parts can also help with understanding.

Another technique to help memory is use of ‘mental imagery’. This is when a child creates an image in their mind to make things more vivid. It can also be used to remember to connect different bits of information. If a child for example is writing a paragraph that has to include a child, a dog and an ice-cream they could picture themselves holding an ice-cream and the dog takes a lick!

External strategies can also be useful such as the use of diaries or planners. These can help to reduce information that has to be remembered but also to plan out tasks and divide into steps. A mini-whiteboard can be a particularly useful tool for children with thinking difficulties. The use of ‘mind-maps’ can also help with planning and organising information meaningfully. A mind-map is a diagram or picture where information can be grouped and it can be linked. Colour and images can be used to help organise and display information.

Please see our booklets for more information on these strategies. We will post about more of the EPIC underlying principles over the next few weeks. We hope you find our booklets useful. Do please contact us with any feedback you have! 

Visual production credit: Photo by T L Furrer via Getty Images

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