ScheMe is a physical calendar that motivates children (8-10 years) to express and reflect on their emotions in a social yet playful way.
Unlike the positive moments of a day, negative events and the emotions the leave a lasting impression on children. Children also struggle to verbalise their feelings and share moments of their day with others. Emotional reflection is a powerful tool to help children understand and have a dialogue about their feelings, however it is not often taught as part of the standard academic curriculum. ScheMe serves the purpose of initiating a meaningful dialogue between children and adults.
ScheMe is a tool comprising of multi-coloured and multi-shaped Lego bricks. Children can use the different bricks to customise their schedules and keep a log of the emotions they experience through the day. The square bricks represent subjects taught in class and the circular bricks represent emotions: green represents happiness, red represents sadness and yellow represents curiosity. The emotional patterns experienced by a child, during a certain classes are available for the parents and teachers to see, know and understand.
How does it work?
Scheme is comprised of different shaped Lego bricks. Children can use the different bricks to customise their schedules and log emotions on their calendars throughout the day. The different-colored square shapes represent subjects and the round shapes represent emotions: green for happy, red for sad and yellow for curious. The patterns are then visualised in a daily digital history for parents and teachers to review.
Apart from working closely with children of 8-10 years old, I interacted with pedagouges, psychologists, teachers and parents. I visited special schools and normal schools, carried out extensive interactions and observation on how children express in school settings. Visiting special and normal schools helped me understand how children with ADHD express differently. I ran group exercises and had individual interactions with students, which highlighted the granularity of the subject.
Often children with ADHD are very impulsive, they tend to react faster and since they live life without filters, their usual expressions are interpreted as being abnormal. To understand ADHD better, I spoke to adults who suffered from this disorder; most adults with ADHD, whom I interacted with, gave deep insights on what they experienced as a child.
A large variety of hands on tools were created to run the experience prototypes in a class of 45 students, comprising of 2-3 children with special needs.
The tools that children with ADHD traditionally used in school were non inclusive and they never felt the ownership to the tools since they belonged to school or therapist. ScheMe allowed children to take ownership of their own schedule; during the process, it also emerged that children would love ScheMe if they could customise their day and express corresponding to that. The frame work provided the flexibility for children to construct their day on their planner with multi-colour square bricks and express their feelings with multi-colour circular bricks.
Doing this in a classroom evoked a sense of empathy among children, when they were asked to exchange their schedules with other friends in class. Througout the process the project went through multiple iterations to suit best to students and teachers.
The iteration process also provided a frame work for teachers to understand the reasons of students’ unhappiness in school. Some of the key learnings for the teachers were:
During the process it also emerged that teachers and parents would like to have information about the emotional experiences of their children visualised in digital patterns, on day to day basis. Hence ScheMe was envisaged to be connected to the hand phones of parents and teachers through a mobile App. Teachers could see how the whole class is doing as well as individual emotional summary of a child, while parents can only see how their child is doing in real time.
ScheMe enables children to learn about their feelings and curiosity regarding subjects and it educates parents and teachers about the well-being of their children, creating opportunities to initiate a meaningful dialogue.
What is the value?
Emotional reflection is a powerful tool to help children understand their own feelings, be sensitive to others, and communicate their emotions with peers and adults. ScheMe aims to help children, parents, and teachers better visualise and communicate around a child’s emotions. Scheme aims to explore the fundamental questions about how early childhood experiences emotions? Emotional well-being is not taught in schools and often it is seen as a task that one should practice individually. The goal of the project was to achieve every child’s well being at the community level or social.
This project started with desk research that caught my attention on Danish article mentioning the rise of ADHD diagnosis in Denmark in last couple of years. The article stated that ADHD is a complex condition and research suggests that it can be caused by genetic predisposition as well as the surroundings and what goes on in early childhood. This intrigued me on a very broad level what is a child’s surrounding and what moulds an early childhood. The article also brought my attention to the facts- the Danish ADHD association estimates that between two and three percent of all Danish schoolchildren are diagnosed with the attention deficit disorder. Read the full article here.
The research phase started with trying to understand the actual challenges for children with special need (ADHD). Defining the context and setting was really important part of my research and that took a lot of my time during the project. When I set out to understand the challenges for a child with special need. I was looking at part of the whole problem. Often children with ADHD are very impulsive, they tend to react faster and they live life without filters. And this aspect of ADHD allowed me to discover my context if that was in school or home. To understand things better, I interviewed 10 experts who are working in the field of ADHD. The scope of my interviews ranged from meeting experts in pedagogues to psychologists, teachers to parents and ADHD adults and children themselves.
I also interviewed Anders Stjernholm, who is famous stand-up comedian in Denmark. The spark of the interview is shown below :
Key Insights from research :
Design Challenge :
How might we allow children to express themselves and explore their interests that enables them to initiate meaningful interactions with parents, teachers and peers in a social and playful way?
Solution Design :
Education is going through various kinds of reforms pertaining to teaching and communication practises; schools in Denmark are trying to become more and more inclusive for children with special needs. ScheMe allows children to express themselves effectively. ScheMe is based on research conducted in Denmark where ADHD cases are on rise and inclusion is becoming the part of the education system. The projects suggests works on areas where promoting mindfulness becomes easy – for children, parents and teachers.
The project empowers children to take control of their own behaviours by allowing them to visualize and verbalise their emotions. The day to day interactions between peers and children would allow them to learn form their own experiences, and therefore value creation takes place at multiple levels.
For psychologists and therapists, ScheMe facilitates better understanding of children with special needs. It allows for children to be perceived through a different paradigm. It potentially also allows for psychologists to broaden their definition of what ‘normal’ is.
For teachers and parents, ScheMe allows them to initiate meaningful conversation around a child’s day. For children, ScheMe promotes self-awareness and handholds them to express themselves freely sand any inhibitions.
ScheMe acts as a communication tool between children, parents and teachers and brings the parents and teachers to understand the emotions of a child as they are, and not as how they want it to be.
Final presentation and feedback
I developed and executed the research plan, worked with special and mainstream teachers and students, experts in ADHD, built the prototypes, and captured and edited the video documentation and animations. This project received Honors for the CIID Interaction Design Programme of 2014. I presented ScheMe as my final project at CIID in front of faculty and peers as well as jury of external examiners which included :
This project was also available for public view at Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. Below are the pictures from the exhibition
Below is the link of the presentation of the project that was presented to jury members and the comments by the jury members.