ES Based Coaching

I enjoy working with little ones. It’s something I really miss from the solitude of my writing desk during these two years away from the classroom. With what time I can spare, I am doing one-on-one ES-based coaching.

One of the children I coach is 7 years old, with some sensory integration issues and challenges with executive functioning.  He is bright, but has trouble following rules and meeting expectations at school. A sweet little monkey.

We have done about 6 sessions together. My first session with this student was spent first trying to calm his terrified tears as he separated from his mother and then trying to keep him safe as he ran away from me through the JCC. Oy vey. Now, after plenty of routine, trust building, and easy games, I am teaching him meditation and how to apply his new self-regulation skills to school tasks. It feels like a win.

So, because this experience has been so successful, I’ll take a moment to brag about all the neato stuff we’re working on. Here is today’s coaching plan. Perhaps you’ll find it useful.

Goals: Student will…

  • respond successfully to 1-2-3 prompt
  • do focused written ‘work’ similar to a school task
  • practice holding and shifting attention with ‘bring backs’
  • practice ‘bring back’ meditation on yoga mat
  • write personal example of 5 zones of regulation – use ‘bring backs’ to refocus
  • reflect on the outcome of UNexpected behaviour using Social Behaviour Mapping
  • reflect on success using at home sticker chart and calming strategies
  • use WOOP (wish, obstacle, overcome, plan) to strategize for greater success using calming strategies
  • play new cooperative games to build rapport, follow rules, and build trust


Yoga mat, ball flags, Relaxation thermometer copy, WOOP worksheet copy, feeling wheel copy, half-finished social behaviour map, Rory’s story cubes, Stickers, crayons, dice, beans, bowls, ball, soft brush, weighted sock, scratchy brush, chess game, timer, delicate wooden caterpillar, post it notes


Cycle through activity, break, snack.

Activities Menu: 

Bring Backs on Yoga Mat – Student lays on yoga mat with a beanbag on his eyes and is asked to breathe calmly. As he breathes in, he raises his hands (bend at elbow, arms at sides) as he breathes out he lowers his hands. Each time he recognizes that he has lost attention on his breath he is rewarded with 10 bops with the bopper sock and he puts up one finger. His goal is to do 5 bring backs.  

Relaxation Thermometer – Student is asked to sit quietly for 5 minutes and try to fill in the sheet independently, like a school task. Emphasis on ‘bring backs’ where coach notes ‘you lost your attention’ and quietly counts and tracks on a post it note how long the ‘bring back’ take.

Student’s Calming Strategies – If student has brought his sticker chart we can discuss his progress.

Social Behaviour Mapping – Student and I review his social mapping plan for playing Star Wars War with members of his family. Then we map out what happens when he does UNexpected behaviour. Discuss other’s feelings about the behaviour, how others will treat him based on how they feel about his behaviour, and how he will feel based on how he is treated. Use this to support the ‘wish’ stage for WOOP.

WOOP – Using the wish we established with social behaviour mapping, we discuss his wish-obstacles-ideas to overcome-and plans for overcoming. This is his second exposure to WOOP.

Relaxing, Connecting Transition Activities

Bopper sock – For a treat if he wants to. We do High 5 puzzle. He gets as many bops with the sock up and down both arms as High-5 responses he can get right in a row. He controls the number. For a special treat he can have bops to his back. If he asks to do it to me, we talk a lot about trust and he is allowed. SI therapeutic deep pressure patting and a lot of talk about trust and rule following.

High 5 Puzzle – For a treat or for transitions. I put my hands in different positions and he has to slap them in the right position. This is SI, proprioception and tactile. Also involves a lot of eye contact, trust, rule following.

Rough Brush / Gentle brush – For a treat if he wants to. Student is asked trivia questions. Behind my back are the rough brush and the gentle brush, but he doesn’t know in which hand. Right answers get the brush in the right hand. Wrong answers get the brush in the left hand. 10 strokes up and down each arm. We discuss what pressure he likes and when following his preference we talk about trust. Sensory integration and friendly touch.  

New, Fun Games

Ball flags bring back – Student gets to try using the rainbow coloured ball flags on the other side of the room. When I say, “Student, bring back” he has to drop the flags and come and play high 5 puzzle with me. To develop shifting and flexibility and to reinforce mastery of attention developed during meditation practice.  

New, Fun Game – Bean Bowl Story Dice – Student and I tell stories together using story dice. Each time he participates cooperatively I tell him which feeling I felt on the feeling wheel and move two beans to the target bowl. The goal is to move all the beans from one bowl to another before the timer runs out. Each time one of us contributes helpfully and co-operatively to the story we can move two beans.


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