University of Exeter
Tools for Schools
Stretching it out

Stretching it out

Key Points

This strategy is to support the child to extend their abilities over time, for example being able to focus for longer. It works by breaking down goals into small steps, then building up from these smaller steps to larger successes

  • Teacher planning activity
  • Personalised to toolkit student
How is this tweaked for flex?

Children who flex is designed for may give up if a goal or new skill seems unachievable. Breaking down the steps needed to achieve a new goal will help you to make steady progress with the toolkit child, and having visual reminders of these steps, as well as rewards when they are achieved, should help keep children motivated and engaged.

  • Think about what the student can do now and what their longer term end goal is. It’s best to focus on one or two goals at a time
  • Split their first goal into a series of small steps for the child (5 or 10). Consider involving the child in this process
  • Each step forward toward the end goal should be achievable for the child in about ten attempts
  • Talk to others who know them well about the size of step that is appropriate
  • If appropriate, show or talk to the child about their first step, framing this so they are aware of the idea of making progress. Make this conversation positive
  • Each time the student achieves or attempts a step, use specific praise. You can use the goal tracker template as a visual reminder
  • Use rewards (see their Know Me for ideas) to keep the child motivated
  • When they can achieve a step consistently (3 times in a row), use a bigger positive reinforcement for achieving this goal! They have mastered that step and now they are ready to stretch it out to the next one
  • From time to time, help the student reflect on how far they have come (use the goal tracker). This will help reinforce positive messages and motivation
  • If you get stuck, have a look at the problem solving template
  • Be aware that sometimes they may move backwards! Communicate this in a positive way, it's not any kind of failure (if you do not do this it may undo all their hard work and motivation). You could use the game snakes and ladders to illustrate how sometimes you slide down a snake, but in the end you still get to the end of the game
  • Think about the child's progress and barriers using the reflection template
  • Is the size of the goal steps achievable for the student- do you need to make the next steps more or less challenging? Involve the child in this problem solving
  • You can also return to a previous step to build confidence in a child's ability. Ensure the child knows this is normal, not a failure