All posts by Kathrine Smith

Coaching ‘Looked After Children’

Over the years my school coaching work has given me the opportunity to work with many young people from very varied backgrounds. I have had some of the most humbling experiences when working with ‘Looked After Children’.

A looked after child is a young person who can be:

  • Subject to an interim care order
  • Accommodated by the local authority
  • On a full care order or emergency protection order
  • Remanded by a court into local authority accommodation or youth detention accommodation

These young people have often had a very challenging start to life. Most of them have had little guidance, support, consistency or stability in their lives. Many have been exposed to physical/mental abuse, neglect, abandonment or things they should never have to see at such a young age.

Stability and consistency is something that most of my looked after students would choose given the chance. It is very common to find out that they have had multiple foster placements and social workers.

What I have noticed as I work with young people who are looked after is that they are outstanding at being resilient, flexible and open-minded. Their ability to bounce back when life is tough just astounds me.

Many of them go on to be volunteers or ambassadors working with youth charities and organisations. By sharing their experience they help to refine and improve processes and assist other looked after children as they go through a similar experience to themselves.

My work with these young people is both heart-breaking and mind blowing when you learn what they have had to deal with at a very early age. I find the maturity, strength and resilience with these students is simply amazing and I feel very honoured to have the opportunity to work with them and make a difference to their lives.

If you know of a young person that is struggling in life and would benefit from life coaching then please contact me.

Mind-Maps, Collaboration and Fun For Anxiety Awareness

Young people are so amazing to work with and their ideas and approach to life can be so inspirational and innovative.

Whenever I do an anxiety workshop in school, I always come away learning something new from my students.

Their enthusiasm and willingness to share their experiences means that everyone always leaves with something to think about or do at a later date.

Their facial expression, body language and tonality is so infectious. The way that they want to capture their experiences is also very interesting and we use a variety of different methods from:

  • Lists
  • Mind-Maps
  • Drawings
  • Verbal Communication

Working collaboratively with other students of a similar age means that they feel less inhibited and more able to share their personal experiences.

On this workshop I had assistance from an older student who had also suffered from anxiety. My year 11 students appreciated hearing about their anxiety journey and what had worked for them to keep stress levels down. They also enjoyed my older student taking part in their group exercises and supporting them through the workshop.

The student feedback from my workshops is positive and by building their self-awareness, creating a toolbox of coping strategies and identifying their support network most of them reduce their anxiety significantly.

If you know of a young person that is struggling with anxiety around school/exams or on a personal basis, or a group of students that would benefit from my anxiety workshop then please contact me.

Substances, Young People and Education

As my coaching work develops so does my exposure to young people who are struggling with illegal substances.

The issues young people are having can be from the effects of personal use or indirectly by means of increased worry, stress or anxiety for a friend who is taking a substance.

In my experience I have found that most young people have not done their research around the substance they have decided to take and the effects it has on their body and cognitive function.

Having more information and coaching can help them to make a more informed decision as to whether this is something that is beneficial to them and their life.

There are a number of informative websites that young people can go to and find out more information:

Looking at some of my student feedback and what has been most effective has been:

  • Having someone that listens
  • Being able to talk without being judged
  • Feeling supported
  • Access to useful information
  • Not being told what to do

My coaching sessions enable young people to evaluate their current situation and then explore what they might want to change. We then put plans and strategies into place for them to achieve their goals and move them forward. Quite often just shifting their focus and making a small change can make a huge difference.

If you know of a young person that is struggling in life and would benefit from life coaching then please contact me.

Building Positive Relationships

This weekend I have been spending time with the Action for Children charity.

The charity has three voluntary roles which are:

  • Independent Visitors Service – To visit, advise, counsel and befriend a young person in a residential care or foster home
  • Advocate Service – Advocates support young people to ensure their thoughts, wishes and feelings are heard when decisions are being made about their futures
  • Mentor Service – To give young people in need an outlet for their feelings, a positive role model and an opportunity to strengthen coping mechanisms

Over the course of the weekend I was introduced to some young people and the volunteers who work with them. It was amazing to find out that they had been together for many years. Watching them together was fascinating and learning how they had built their relationship based on respect, trust and fun was both heart warming and inspirational.

If you know of a young person that is struggling and would benefit from life coaching or would like to know more about the voluntary work that I do then please contact me.

Positive Education For A Flourishing Life

I had such an awesome day in London last Friday attending the Next Steps For Wellbeing in Education Conference with The International Positive Education Network (IPEN).

There was an array of influential guest speakers and Sir Anthony Seldon – University of Buckingham was our chair for the day.

The list of speakers included:

The message that came across from all the parties was the need to promote the teaching of character, resilience and well-being throughout our education system.

The ambassadors from #iwill and The Amy Winehouse Foundation were amazing and their performances were stunning. It just goes to show how doing something different and helping others can significantly improve the mental health of young people.

Young people need to be equipped with knowledge and life skills so that they can flourish in life. The purpose of IPEN is to:

  • Reform policy
  • Change educational practices
  • Support collaboration

There were also exhibitor stands with different offerings to assist education establishments to prepare the young people of today for tomorrow’s world. I purchased some strength cards from ‘At My Best’ and look forward to using these with my coaching students this week.

The head of year 8 from one of my coaching schools also came with me and it was interesting to see her reaction and opinions regarding the speakers. She had never been to anything like it before and took lots of useful information away with her to share with colleagues back at school.

The day was finished off with a very entertaining talk from Ruby Wax. Through the art of comedy she highlighted the importance of raising mental health awareness and how we can assist young people in getting the help and support they need. Amazing how we learn so much more when things are fun.

What I learnt from the conference is that schools need to be:

  • Both proactive and reactive
  • Connected with their students
  • Working on prevention rather than cure
  • Attentive to the well being of their staff not just the students
  • Developing a whole school approach including teaching staff, students, parents and governors

I have taken so much valuable information away from last Friday and my aim is to share this with my students. There is nothing better than seeing them happy, resilient and flourishing in life.

If you know of a young person who is struggling in life and would benefit from life coaching then please contact me.

Embracing Change and Building Resilience

My life has changed significantly over this last week as my daughter left home and started university.

The house seems very empty and my husband and I have found ourselves back on our own after 18 years of noise, fun and laughter.

On reflection I am content in the way that I have dealt with this odd and challenging week and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.

I found myself having to focus on my self-awareness. Drawing from my coaching experience, positivity, growth mindset and Mindfulness skills, has enabled me to balance my emotions, work on my resilience and come through the week with a smile on my face.

I have also managed to get more work done and keep my concentration levels without the very loud music!

I have decided to embrace the change and look at this as an opportunity to spend more time with my husband and friends. Having fun and doing the things that make me happy will certainly keep me busy and help me bounce back and focus on what I have got rather than what I am missing.

One final thing that the change this week has highlighted for me is gratitude . Our home lives are so busy these days and quite often we can miss the simple things in life. I have been more aware of people holding doors open, smiling and communicating with me.

And, the final things are the ones at home from the little notes, the cups of tea, the laughter, the support, the patience and the quality time, so thank you to my amazing husband for just being you!

Bring on next week and I am excited to see what happens and what I can achieve.

If you know someone who needs assistance with managing change or achieving goals then please contact me.

Back To School with Emotional Intelligence

My summer break has really taken me on an emotional journey. I have seen my daughter anticipate her ‘A’ Level exam results and worry about ‘what ifs’. Then feel relief as she received the results she needed to get into  university followed by frantic shopping for ‘stuff’ as she starts the next stage in her education away from home.

My emotions seem to be on a roller coaster going from excitement in what lies ahead for her to sadness that our house will not be the same without her in it. At least she will be home in the holidays and no doubt with lots of washing to keep me busy!

Life has been hectic to say the least and it was actually quite grounding to return to school this week and get back into my normal routine.

This week also had me attending a fantastic Emotional Intelligence training day in Richmond with Richard Reid from Pinnacle Therapy. I spent the day with a group of other students learning about:

  • What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  • The impact EQ has on the brain
  • The link between thoughts and emotions
  • Mindfulness
  • Negative thinking patterns
  • The difference between fixed and growth mindsets
  • Effective communication and listening skills
  • Persuading, influencing and negotiation skills

As I develop my knowledge around emotional intelligence, the more I realise that this is something that needs to be included in the school curriculum for young people to have a more happy, contented and stable life.

Emotional intelligence is something that I cover in my school coaching sessions and the difference it can make to a young person’s life can be significant. It can help with the development of:

  • Resilience
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skills

The feedback that I get from my students regarding the development of their emotional intelligence is that they feel:

  • Less frustrated and confused about things that happen both in and out of school
  • They feel they are a better person
  • They are able to look at things from another persons point of view
  • They have the ability to stay focused and not let life situations distract them from the task in hand
  • They can communicate more effectively
  • They learn how to let go

On Friday 6th October 2017 I will be attending The International Positive Education Network (IPEN) conference ‘ Next Steps for Wellbeing in Education’ in London. I am hoping that Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness will be on the agenda and how they can be introduced into schools on a larger scale.

If you know of a young person who is struggling in or out of school and would benefit from life coaching then please contact me.

Fun And Mentoring With National Citizen Service (NCS)

What a fun day I had yesterday mentoring 57 young people on the NCS  programme in Reading, UK.

I was invited by Holly Glasson (Assistant Programme Manager) from NCS:The Challenge to work with 3 groups of students in the 16-17 year age group regarding stress and anxiety management and to talk about the work that I do in local secondary schools.

There were also two other presenters, covering CV writing and also on identifying and using your strengths.

Holly also asked me to mentor one of the groups regarding their charity business project before pitching it to four different business people in a ‘Dragons Den’ scenario later this week.

Their project was to create 60 shoe boxes containing a variety of items for young people to be shipped out to Zimbabwe. Their charity was ‘Creating Better Futures’ for children affected with AIDS.

During the week the team had developed their knowledge around:

  • Risk assessments
  • SMART goal setting
  • SWOT analysis
  • Budget/costing
  • Fundraising
  • Organisation skills
  • Time management
  • Presentation skills

I was impressed that the students were passionate, motivated and determined in their tasks whilst also having fun, learning new skills and making new friendships.

I would fully recommend NCS to any teenager wanting to meet new people, learn about charity fundraising and develop business and organisation skills for their future career.

The programme is well structured and organised and there are plenty of younger mentors involved in assisting the programme manager, most of them having previously been on the programme themselves.

This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to gain invaluable skills that they might not get exposure to in school, and to take forward into their future careers

More information about NCS can be found by clicking here or you can contact Holly Glasson.

I am so glad to have been part of the NCS students journey and wish them well for their presentation pitch and final week.

How My Coaching Work Has Changed

When I started my coaching practice three and a half years ago I was not expecting my youth work to grow in the way that it has.

My work with young people in local secondary schools has completely changed since I started out, and my experience of coaching teenagers around educational pressure and the problems it brings has grown exponentially.

My coaching work has expanded from one to one and group student coaching work to facilitating and training teaching staff and working with social services and parents. I have even done home visits and coached students who are unable to get into school for a particular reason. These visits have enabled me to assist pastoral teams to improve student performance and attendance whilst supporting my students and their parents as well.

It has certainly been an interesting journey so far and I know there is even more change to come. I am looking forward to seeing how the next year develops and where my coaching work is going to lead me. As a person who enjoys change and variety I cannot wait to see where my work takes me next.

If you are a school or educational environment that would benefit from working with me or you know of a young person that is struggling in life then please contact me.


Fun Planning, Building Resilience and Reducing Stress

As Exam season draws to a close and the summer holidays get nearer then it is time to switch my student coaching focus and ‘Bring on the Fun.’

Fun planning is essential if my students are to return to education in September feeling happy, contented and relaxed. Holidays are an excellent opportunity to balance out their work/fun budget, build resilience and reduce stress levels.

As the proverb states ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ meaning that without time off from work we become both bored and boring.  It has been said that some writers have added a second part to the proverb stating ‘All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.’

The most  important thing here to remember is that we need to lead a balanced life if we are to be able to deal with whatever life throws at us whether that is personally or professionally.

My Mum always used to say ‘Kathrine, if you do everything in moderation then you won’t go far wrong.’ She was absolutely right and as a holistic life coach, moderation and balance are important  features of my coaching work. If you work hard then you need to balance that out and play hard too.

These principles apply to all of us no matter what age we are. I find that grabbing opportunities to enjoy life, having fun and doing what makes us happy means that when the not so good stuff happens we are more resilient to deal with it and we can manage stress more effectively. By leading a balanced life we tend to be more resourceful when finding solutions and we bounce back from negativity quicker.

If you want to lead a more balanced and happy life and you are ready to make a change then contact me.