The Live Out Loud team utilises the Circle of Courage model in their work with families with children and young people with additional needs. In our experience, these needs are amplified in youth with additional needs, due to their life and livid experiences at home, in school and in their communities, with specific reference to their differences – their neurotypes. In collaboration with children, young people, their parents, families and educators, we (need to) work extra hard to ensure that their growth needs are really met. Wellbeing and happiness are at the heart of our work.
The Circle of Courage is a positive, integrated and holistic approach to child development and learning based on the principle of universal needs for emotionally healthy youth and intended to promote a sense of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. This model was first described in the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk, co-authored by Larry Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg, and Steve Van Bockern and integrates Native American philosophies of child-rearing, the heritage of early pioneers in education and youth work, and contemporary resilience research.
The Spirit of Belonging refers to the universal longing for human bonds, which are cultivated by relationships of trust so that the child can say, “I am loved.”
The need to belong and be loved (family, affection, friendships, relationships, acceptance by others) is essential to self-esteem and cognitive development. Significant others in the lives of children and young people must draw them into the ‘spirit of belonging’ and establish relationships, as relevant to the unique child or young person, based on trust and respect.
Our task is to be curious about every child’s experience of (and unique needs for) a sense of belonging; and collaboratively and creatively work towards fostering a positive sense of belonging in all settings (home, school and community).
The focus of the work: to provide a home, school and community culture where all our children feel welcomed and know they are a vital part of the specific setting.
The Spirit of Mastery refers to the cultivation of the inborn thirst for learning. By learning to engage with and participate in the world, the child can say, “I can succeed.”
By acknowledging and recognising their achievement, skills and abilities, children are provided with a sense of mastery. Without opportunities for success, children may communicate their frustration in different ways. Learning that links to their everyday life and gives opportunities for them to work on their own of together (be it in a group, alone, or a significant adult) provides powerful intrinsic motivators for children.
Our task is to be curious about every child’s experience of (and unique needs for) mastery; and collaboratively and creatively work towards fostering a positive sense of mastery in all settings (home, school and community).
The focus of the work: Encourage the belief that each child has unique abilities, strengths, interests, talents and gifts that must be discovered before the child or young person can begin to experience a sense of competence and mastery. Increased competency enhances self-esteem and provides the motivation for further achievement.
The Spirit of Independence refers to the cultivation of free will by responsibility so that the child can say, “I have the power to make decisions.”
In order to have their cognitive needs met, children must learn how to learn or do things independently, rather than relying completely on others to guide and motivate them. This is a very specific challenge in the lives of children and young people with additional needs. Significant others must provide step-by-step guidance and support, so that learning very gradually becomes the responsibility of the child or young person. It is possible that the child or young person can continue to require support and or a level of support for life. No matter what level of independence is achieved at what stage, a sense of autonomy is a powerful intrinsic motivator.
Our task is to be curious about every child’s experience of (and unique needs for) independence; and collaboratively and creatively work towards fostering a positive sense of independence in all settings (home, school and community).
The focus of the work: to provide a stimulating experience where children and young people can grow, develop and have ownership over their learning and completion of tasks/activities. Home, school and the community are places where they can have the freedom to learn in their own style, at their own pace and through their own interests.
The Spirit of Generosity refers to the cultivation of character by concern for others so that the child can say, “I have a purpose for my life.”
Self-esteem and ‘self-actualisation’ are greatly increased by learning to help others – to contribute to something meaningful. A feeling of pride and joy can be engendered through helping others. Without opportunities to share their interests, talents, skills and abilities, children cannot become caring, responsible adults. Significant others can encourage children and young people to get involved in the home, school and community through a variety of projects.
Our task is to be curious about every child’s experience of (and unique need for) generosity; and collaboratively and creatively work towards fostering a positive sense of generosity in all settings (home, school and community).
The focus of the work: Encourage the belief that every child has a tremendous capacity for good will and teaching the importance of being kind, loving, caring and generous and facilitate them to engage and participate in their preferred way at home, in school and in the community.
Live Out Loud enjoys engaging with families and thinking together with them about strengthening their child’s Circle of Courage – realising their children’s growth needs, while celebrating their unique abilities, strengths, interests and gifts. The hoped for outcome: Live Out Loud!
Brendtro, L.K., Brokenleg, M. & Van Bockern, S. Reclaiming Youth at Risk. Futures of promise, 3rd Edition.