THE MIND READERS is a training program that promotes Theory of Mind competencies and the associated language skills. It was developed for deaf and hard of hearing children and adolescents and can also be used with hearing children. The training program has been scientifically tested and extensively tested in practice.
The training program THE MIND READERS is
strictly theory-based: The program follows the research results on the different stages of development of Theory of Mind and the components of Emotion Understanding, as well as the spoken and/or sign language skills that are connected. It also combines different evidence-based methods for Theory of Mind promotion.
modularly structured: The program consists of 9 modules which target individual developmental steps of Theory of Mind. With an additional module, linguistic skills can be specifically practised that are connected to the Theory of Mind development. The modular structure allows THE MIND READERS to be used flexibly.
multilingual with spoken and sign languages: The materials and information are produced in different spoken and sign languages.
multiple applicable: THE MIND READERS contain a variety of teaching and learning materials, including stories, colourful pictures, sign language videos, artistic activities and role plays. The methods and materials take special account of the heterogeneous needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing children (e.g. learning requirements, age, culture, educational environment, linguistic orientation). Visuality plays a major role, so that children with delays in language development can also benefit from the training program.
inclusive: THE MIND READERS can be used in both special schools and mainstream schools.
easily accessible: All materials can be downloaded and used free of charge, subject to the copyright conditions, and can be individually adapted to the needs of the respective children and young people.
evidence-based: The program was tested extensively in two practical phases with 116 children and adolescents in Germany, Greece, Cyprus and Switzerland and its effectiveness was verified with the help of scientific tests. The testing phases took place in special schools and inclusive schools and were carried out by deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing teachers and educators. The exercises were tried out in classes, small groups and individual settings. The results and the detailed feedback from the teachers were incorporated into the revision of the training program and the instructions in the toolbox.
participatory developed: The program is developed in cooperation with hearing, deaf and hard of hearing researchers and practitioners.
culturally diverse: Researchers as well as teachers and educators in different countries and with different linguistic backgrounds developed THE MIND READERS together, so that cultural diversity was taken into account.
The training program THE MIND READERS helps children,
- learn to view the self and others as possessing internal states including emotions, desires, beliefs and knowledge,
- comprehend the nature, causes and regulation of a wide range of emotions and to name them,
- develop and reflect on different strategies for regulating their own feelings,
- think and discuss about mental states and emotions to themselves and others,
- understand and explain their own behaviour and that of other people,
- regulate one’s own behaviour and adapt it to the needs of other people.
Since language plays a crucial role in the acquisition of Theory of Mind, the children additionally learn in spoken and/or sign language
Which children can benefit from THE MIND READERS?
All children can benefit from THE MIND READERS in a variety of educational settings:
- pre-school children
- primary-school children
- secondary-school children
The training program THE MIND READRERS takes special account of the developmental and learning conditions of children and youngsters who are hard of hearing, deaf or have another form of hearing loss. Materials are provided in English and British Sign Language as well as in extensive visual material.
The training program can also be used with:
- hearing children
- older children and adolescents who show delay in social cognitive abilities due to neurodevelopmental disorders or various environmental reasons
- all children, irrespective of differences relating to age, hearing status, gender, learning ability, familial socio-economic and cultural background, personality traits, motivation or other individual differences in learning.
THE MIND READERS can be used for prevention and intervention. The program is designed in a flexible way so that teachers and educators can choose between many different exercises and materials and, if necessary, adapt them to the needs of the children and young people.
Who can use THE MIND READERS?
THE MIND READERS can be used by:
- teachers, both general and special education
- education-related professionals including speech therapists, educational or school psychologists and social workers
Parents, caregivers, siblings or other members of the family can use games and books to foster children’s Theory of Mind and everyday social skills. You can also find further tips here.
For further support, we have compiled a list of important vocabulary in British Sign Language for the naming of inner states and feelings.
Possible applications in school and other educational settings
THE MIND READERS can be used flexibly in different educational settings and under different teaching conditions. They can be very well embedded in the normal school curriculum in both mainstream and special schools or used for individual support.
The exercises can be used well, for example, in language lessons or in subjects and projects that specifically aim at personal, emotional and social development.
All exercises are suitable for use in groups with hearing and deaf or hard of hearing children or mixed language groups with spoken and sign languages.
You can decide for yourself whether you want to do THE MIND READERS with a whole class, a small group or just in individual support with one child or young person.
This symbol indicates in the exercises that they are also suitable for individual sessions. In some exercises there are also explanations on how to adapt the exercise if necessary.
- It is helpful not to do the exercises exclusively in individual sessions. In order to successfully develop Theory of Mind skills, it is necessary to interact with other people, as this allows different perspectives to become visible. Therefore, if possible, combine individual sessions with small group or partner exercises.
- If you do THE MIND READERS in individual sessions, the child can invite a friend for a session, for instance.
Co-operation with parents
It is helpful to involve parents in supporting Theory of Mind development. With small things in their everyday life, parents can support their children well.
- Discuss with the parents the behaviour of their child in the area of emotional and social-cognitive development. Also, ask the parents about their experiences. This will help you understand the abilities of the child.
- Explain to the parents the reasons for possible delays. This helps the parents understand their child better and to be more aware of addressing feelings in everyday life.
- Inform the parents about the training program THE MIND READERS. Explain the goals and show examples of individual exercises. This can be a good topic for a parents’ evening, for example.
- Encourage parents to discuss about their own feelings and thoughts as well as those of other people with their children on a daily basis.
- Give the parents tips on what they can do at home. For example, give them a list of games or (picture) books that are particularly suitable for communicating about different people’s feelings and thoughts. You may also have books and games in the classroom that can be borrowed if needed.
- Information materials and tips for families can be found here.