The Thrive Approach
At Carr Lodge Academy we strongly believe in the Thrive Approach. The Thrive Approach is grounded in the current scientific developments in neuroscience. The neural pathways of the brain and wider nervous system are relatively unformed at birth, undergoing much of their development during the first three years of life in response to relational experiences with primary care-givers. A key development during this period is the establishment of the body’s stress-response system. This lays the foundation for our social and emotional development throughout life, affecting our capacity to relate, love, learn and manage stress in healthy ways. However, research has also revealed the inherent ‘plasticity’ of the brain – its capacity to forge new neural connections in response to experience. The fact that the brain retains this property to a greater or lesser degree throughout life means that where brain development has been less than optimal, it remains possible to intervene at a later stage to fill the gaps.
The Thrive Approach builds on these insights to offer a way of working with children and young people that supports the optimal development of their brains and nervous systems. Furthermore, where the nature of children’s early experiences mean that they have not developed a good enough stress-response system and therefore find it difficult to relate or learn, Thrive offers a structured way to provide the missing relational experiences in order to rewire their neural circuitry for more effective functioning.
The Thrive Approach uses a developmental model to help us understand how we develop socially and emotionally from birth through to adulthood. This model gives us a framework for understanding what healthy child development looks like in terms of behaviour and learning and clarifies what the role of adults should be in facilitating a child’s development at each of the different stages. In addition, the model gives us a lens through which to look at and interpret children’s behaviour, enabling us to identify the particular developmental needs being signalled by their behaviour and to choose appropriate, targeted interventions designed to meet those needs.
¨The emotional regulation system in all of us is made up of three levels. These three levels are shaped in our early experience in our closest relationships. They are addressed within the Thrive model: Being, Doing and Thinking.
The good news is that with loving attention and repeated experiences we can reshape these three levels – or fill in any gaps – at any time if we are in a positive significant relationship. The Thrive Approach shows us how. Because our emotional state has such an impact on the way we think and act, it profoundly affects our behaviour choices. Our behaviour in turn helps us to get on with others and to be able to settle to learning.
- We can develop resilience rather than false fixed strength.
- We can feel empowered and confident to work with life rather than needing to have power over others or events.
- We can care about others as well as ourselves.
- We can be empathetic and compassionate rather than fearful and grasping.
- We can have dreams and ambition.
- We can be creative and divergent in our thinking.
- We can aim for excellence without putting others down in the process.
- We can appreciate diversity and embrace change. We can love life and thrive.
At Carr Lodge we have developed a Thrive Space as a place for children to work in small intervention groups or on a one to one basis. Children are given the opportunity to develop their neural pathways, understand their feelings and develop coping mechanisms through arts and play based activities and discussion.
All staff at Carr Lodge have had Thrive Awareness training and understand how to support children based on their level of emotional development rather than necessarily their age.
We use the following guiding principles of the Thrive Approach:
• Every child is a unique person, constantly developing and learning in different ways and at different rates, each with his/her own abilities, talents and potential to be fulfilled.
• Children’s healthy development, emotional well-being and learning are crucially dependent upon, and promoted through, positive relationships.
• Children flourish when they are confident, self-assured, capable and resilient.
• Children thrive in enabling environments, in which their individual development, learning experiences and needs are understood, responded to and supported through strong partnerships with parents/carers.
Teachers are trained to use Vital Relational Functions ‘VRFs’ which are tools used in Thrive to address a child’s emotional state during a crisis.
Attune: This is where we show we are alert to how the child is feeling. We connect with the child and match how the child is feeling through our pitch, pace, volume and body language.
Validate: This is when we are alert to and acknowledge the child’s feelings. (“I can see you’re upset and angry because…”).
Containment: This is where we demonstrate that we understand the pitch, intensity and quality of their feeling or mood and that we can bear it. This is where we show that we can take their deep distress, raging anger or painful sorrow and make it a survivable experience. Catch it, match it and digest it by thinking about it and offering it back, named, in small digestible pieces. This builds trust for the child: in adults and in the world.
Soothe, calm, stimulate: This is where we must be alert to how a child is feeling and demonstrate emotional regulation by soothing and calming their distress. Catch it, match it and help the child to regulate the feeling up or down. They need to experience being calmed before they can do it for themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions about Thrive
Why do some children need Thrive?
Unfortunately, children may face challenges that knock them off course. What is needed then is understanding and support to get them back on track. Many children will respond to care and support given by parents, family, friends and teachers. However, some children need a little bit extra support to enable them to: feel good about themselves, know they matter, have a positive place in society, form trusting and rewarding relationships, be creative, be compassionate and empathetic, be thoughtful and self-aware, be productive and be able to overcome difficult setbacks.
What extra support can Carr Lodge Academy offer?
Children who need a little bit of extra help are identified through a variety of ways such as our whole-class screening process, by class teachers or through communication with families and outside agencies. Working closely with parents we carry out full assessments of identifying children’s social, emotional and behavioural needs. This helps us to build a bespoke Thrive action plan of activities to support their needs.
What is a Thrive action plan?
A Thrive action plan is a plan of activities tailored to support a child’s identified social and emotional learning targets. They are play and arts based activities designed to help a growth mindset. Activities may include; playing in sand and water, cooking, painting, model making, projects around their interests and exploring various situations through play. The action plans are reviewed regularly so that we can track and understand progress that each child has made.
So who gets Thrive?
We try to emphasise to everyone that Thrive is just like any other intervention. If a child is struggling with reading, writing or maths we give them extra support, and this is the same with social and emotional learning.
At Carr Lodge Academy we don’t consider Thrive to be an intervention carried out in the Thrive room for just a few children, we consider it to be a whole-school approach. We all believe that all behaviour is communication and that communication needs to be understood and supported - not ‘dealt’ with. Thrive feeds into everything we do; celebration assemblies, sharing achievements - not just academic ones, getting to know everyone and their families and celebrating our diversity.
Our current Thrive trained practitioners within Carr Lodge Academy is Angela Rankin. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask or for more information on the Thrive approach visit their website,