You will or you won't?

24th November 2006 at 00:00
John Dabell decides in favour of a series that teaches the art of decision-making

First Choices: Teaching Children Aged 5 to 7 to Make Positive Decisions About Their Own Lives

By Margaret Collins

Book and CD

Lucky Duck Books pound;18.99

Good Choices: Teaching Young People Aged 8 to 11 to Make Positive Decisions

About Their Own Lives

By Tina Rae

Book and CD

Lucky Duck Books pound;17.99

Life Choices: Teaching Adolescents to Make Positive Decisions About Their Own Lives

By Phil Carradice Book and CD

Lucky Duck Books pound;18.99

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Every waking moment we are making choices: good and bad, with our heads and with our hearts (and sometimes with the two working together). We need all the help we can get to make life choices which are reasoned and positive for ourselves and those around us. So, where do we turn to help children make sense of a complicated world? How can we help them build emotional literacy and good mental health?

You'd be hard pushed to find a better decision-making programme than this excellent set of books, each with an accompanying CD. They are designed to help children become more aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and are recommended as resources for any PSHE lesson.

First Choices and Good Choices share the same structure: a rich menu of stories rooted in real life, carefully dovetailed to the appropriate age.

In First Choices, issues covered include disability, stealing, prejudice, justice and the environment. In Good Choices, topics include bullying, graffiti, friendships, cheating, lying and coping with change. The issues covered in Life Choices range from running away from home, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse to first love, racism, problem relatives and the search for fame. Before each story there is a focus and synopsis of the narrative ahead. The stories are well crafted and prompt children to make a choice from one of two possible cliffhanger endings - except, oddly, in those of Life Choices. There is a CD with each resource containing colourful posters for each story, which may help visual learners to connect and contextualise each problem.

Throughout the stories there are strategic pit-stop points which provide ideas to get children thinking, reflecting and talking together. These flag points are implicit in the Life Choices resource, which seems a pity: why were they left out? Still, each story is well supported by activities that act as vehicles for problem-solving, and there are useful homework ideas for further reflection. This series will undoubtedly kick-start conversation, prod thinking and stimulate classroom debate John Dabell is a former primary teacher, consultant and inspector

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