Over the hols, we spent some time with author of the Tell A Trusted Adult cards, Sharon Hynes (pictured on right), talking about the evolution of the cards and how she and Katerina Meda, the illustrator (pictured on left), came to be working together. Sharon also shared some great tips for how to use the cards to have conversations about safety with children. Here’s what she had to say.
When did you first come up with the idea for the TATA cards? What prompted you to want to create a set of cards like these?
In 2017, I was given the position of Child Safety Officer in my primary school. While circle time was already embedded into the Wellbeing program along with visual literacy, there didn’t seem to be any visual stimuli to do with child safety that wouldn’t be too scary or confrontational for both students and teachers. This inspired the idea to create a set of cards that would provoke conversations around child safety in a way that would appeal to both students and teachers.
What happened next?
I realised that I needed a partner with artistic skills to help me make my vision come to life. I was friends with Kat (Katerina Meda, the illustrator of the cards) who is a designer (and teacher’s aide) so I asked Kat to help with this important project. Both of us felt compelled to make the world a safer place for children and have a strong desire to build wellbeing in our community. I think working together helped build our confidence as we had more belief in each other than self-belief at the time! The project came to life quite effortlessly as things fell into place.
How did you come up with the initial ideas and designs?
The first designs came after many lengthy discussions and were drawn from our own experience as teachers and parents, along with my knowledge of child safety classes where children freely talk about their body signals and times when they felt safe/unsafe. Some designs were inspired by the body language shown by students when they experienced school refusal, playground issues and learning frustrations.
When did you decide to approach Innovative Resources?
We were fortunate that Innovative Resources offered to assist us with the initial planning/ideas phase even though they could not promise us publishing at that stage. We both enjoyed working with a team of experts who understood the importance of the project. It was a beautiful feeling of community with like-minded people sharing the same vision.
Why are there no words on the cards?
…to allow for the children to create their own stories, thoughts and conversations that stem purely from the visual image. Every encounter with the cards is then a personal journey without any right or wrong interpretations.
Why do you think it’s important for teachers to talk about child safety? How can the cards help have these conversations?
Tell A Trusted Adult is an important resource to support children to recognise when they feel unsafe and to develop a plan of action. Telling someone you trust, who can help you when you are overwhelmed or are having difficulty thinking clearly, is a life skill that builds a safer community. Tell A Trusted Adult can be used to help children identify the adults that they can turn to in times of need. The cards can also be used to support children to build the social and emotional literacy and confidence to seek help when they need it.
What are the different ways the cards can be used by teachers?
The cards can be woven throughout the curriculum. The teacher activity cards (Tell A Trusted Adult includes 13 paired cards and 9 activity cards) can be picked up for quick lessons that only require the cards themselves, a safe and nurturing classroom and a teacher who can take the time to read and understand the booklet and/or follow the lesson plans.
Where have you use the cards so far?
The cards have been trialled in whole school assemblies, whole class settings, small groups and individual discussions. They complement existing social and emotional programs.
The children connect with the characters and readily share their own experiences such as feeling safe when hugging a pet, shaky when speaking in front of the class and being blamed when things do not work out on the playground. Often when students are unsettled about something that has happened at school, they enjoy talking about the fictional characters who may also be feeling a similar emotional experience.
The ‘Question Time’ activity card helps to guide the children to articulate their feelings and thoughts while also developing problem solving skills and strategies that they can fall back on in times of need.
The cards build a sense of encounter as the students can listen to each other and feel a connection with common experiences.
I recently used the cards with a student who was clearly in the ‘red zone’ and unable to voice his concerns. He had a strong attraction to the card with the puppy and immediately moved into a lower level of frustration.
I’ve also used the cards during remote learning to stimulate conversations around emotional regulation and strategies children can use to resettle.
What advice would you would give teachers who were wanting to introduce the cards into their classroom?
Read through the booklet and lesson plans, enjoy the beauty and rich discussions as the cards work their magic making space for this important experience in your classroom.
I believe that having meaningful conversations with children about their bodies, feelings, relationships and personal safety could make an incredible difference to the wellbeing of our future generations.
The kit includes the Tell A Trusted Adult cards (35 cards plus a comprehensive booklet full of ideas and activities), 10 lesson plans and 6 posters, everything you need to run a 10 week program on child safety.
The lesson plans cover a range of activities that can be used in a variety of settings, and include adaptations for ages 3+, 7+ and 10+. The posters are great for schools, early learning centres, community spaces, human service foyers, medical practice waiting rooms and any other places where children visit.
$99.00 inc. GST Product Code: 4981
$54.50 inc. GST Product Code: 4980