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Insights in Jamaica - Providing Insights into Children's Temperaments

 

Is your child like Coretta the Cautious (shy and slow to warm), Gregory the Grumpy (high maintenance), Fredrico the Friendly (social and eager to try) or Hilary the Hard Worker (industrious)? Do you have the insight into how to interact with your child based on his/her personality type? The INSIGHTS in Jamaica Programme at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, could just provide the answer.

The INSIGHTS in Jamaica Programme was launched at the School of Education, The UWI, Mona in 2012 as a comprehensive intervention strategy to provide a framework for parents and teachers to understand the individual differences in children based on four basic personality types – Coretta the Cautious, Gregory the Grumpy, Fredrico the Friendly and Hilary the Hard Worker. These personalities are associated with puppets which depict these temperaments to appeal to the children and aid in their solving daily dilemmas.

The programme is accountable to the Director of the School of Education, Prof. Stafford Griffith, and aims to assist parents and teachers in replacing negative patterns of interaction and harsh disciplinary measures with responsive ones that suit a child‘s temperament. The programme works to make children more self-controlled by strengthening their understanding of others as well as their ability to solve problems.

Dr. Loraine Cook, Senior Lecturer in Research in Teaching and Learning, The UWI, Mona, was instrumental in launching the programme in Jamaica, which materialised after she had discussions with the developer of the programme, Prof. Sandee McClowry from New York University. Subsequently, Dr. Cook held dialogue with Dr. Rose Davies, former Teacher Educator in Early Childhood Education, School of Education, The UWI, Mona, which led to the establishment of a steering committee to organise an INSIGHTS intervention workshop for educators headed by Prof. Zellynne Jennings-Craig, former Director of the School of Education, The UWI, Mona.

Committee members comprised Dr. Rose Davies (Chair of the Committee); Dr. Cook; Winsome John-Gayle, former Executive Director of the Early Childhood Commission; and Dr. Marcia Stewart, Director, the Joint Board of Teacher Education. Prof. McClowry and her husband Dr. Mark Spellman held a workshop on April 26 and 27, 2012 with 13 Development Officers from the Early Childhood Commission and teacher-trainers from teachers’ colleges which set into flame the vision for INSIGHTS in Jamaica.

At the end of the workshop, the participants were very positive about the programme and felt that it would provide parents with strategies that would help to discipline their children in a gentler way. They also felt that it would enhance teachers’ strategies in classroom management.

Based on the outcome of the workshop, Prof. McClowry acquired funds from CHASE to set up the programme for three years, from 2014-2017. Three schools participated in 2014 – Alpha Infant and Primary School, Central Branch Infant School and John Mills Primary School – and between January 2014 to August 2016, the INSIGHTS programme reached 3,036 children, 169 parents and 88 teachers through administering the programme in 15 urban schools and four rural schools.

“We are trying to get into all the schools and to focus on under-resourced communities,” Dr. Cook said. INSIGHTS therefore received additional funding for one year (2014-2015) from the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) through the United States Embassy to expand into four rural communities – Bethabara Infant, Christiana Moravian Infant, Craighead All Age and St Ann’s Bay Infant School. A total of 488 children, 32 parents and 17 teachers participated in this programme.

The INSIGHTS programme targets five year-olds and Grade 1 classrooms and the parents and teachers of these students. “Age five is the formative stage. Adults will have a good chance to influence children at that age as then they are like wet cement – you can mold them,” Dr. Cook said.

The programme is unique in its focus as it deals with children’s temperaments while introducing parents and teachers to behavioural management strategies. Children are also exposed to conflict management strategies which entails learning how to manage their own emotions while responding to others. “We help them to accept differences in people from an early age and to accept themselves,” Dr. Cook said.

The INSIGHTS programme is implemented at three levels – the initial implementation for institutions receiving the programme for the first time; re-entry for institutions that have previously participated in the INSIGHTS programme; and licensing for schools that have completed the re-entry stage of the programme and have rented the programme materials to be used at their schools.

At the re-entry stage, the INSIGHTS in Jamaica team trains facilitators to ensure the fidelity of the programme. A Guidance Counsellor and a senior teacher selected by the principal are trained, and at the end of that stage the schools are invited to be licensed.

Feedback on the INSIGHTS programme from the participating schools has been very positive. A teacher from Christiana Moravian Basic School said: “The INSIGHTS programme was really informative. I have learnt a lot. I think I am better able now to know about the different temperaments of children and how to deal with children according to their temperaments and accept the fact that they are really like that. The programme has made me better able to deal with children in the classes.”

A teacher from Dupont Infant School had this to say: “The programme has been very helpful. It sensitizes us to better understand student’s temperaments and we have new ways of dealing with their situations. It helps us to understand children more as well as ourselves.”

Additionally, INSIGHTS in Jamaica has had a very competent and committed team. Programme Coordinator Rochelle Williams, Administrative Assistant Shauyagaye Panton, and the Advisory Committee including Prof. Sandee Mc- Clowry, Dr. Rose Davies, Dr. Joan Reid, Dr. Mairette Newman, Gail Mitchell, Andrew Collins and Bruce Fletcher have worked to ensure the success of the programme.

The current Project Manager is Dr. Zoyah Kinkead-Clarke. “The sky is the limit for the programme. The far-reaching effects are enormous, as the programme is all about children and helping them to grow into better adults,” Dr. Cook said.


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