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Teachers' resources ? Programme notes

Dealing With Life

Background information
Curriculum relevance


This programme focuses on the different ways life events, relationships and support can affect personal development. The programme aims to illustrate how people deal with both expected and unexpected challenges that occur in different life stages. The importance of support, in both personal and professional forms, is an ongoing theme in the programme participants' strategies for dealing with the various events that occur in their lives. This final programme also performs the function of drawing the featured participants' stories to a close in positive ways.

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This programme focuses on the following individuals:

  • Jane Bath describes the challenges of looking after her children in difficult circumstances. She reflects on the impact that the recent birth has had on her relationship with her partner Danny and describes his supportive role within the family.
  • Karen Moncholi discusses the impact of David's disability on family life. She describes how formal care services, as well as plenty of informal care, help them to cope with the practical effects of this.
  • Mark Tanner talks positively about overcoming the physical and social problems that resulted from his life-changing car accident. He reflects on his increasing sense of maturity and his optimism for achieving a more independent lifestyle.
  • Phyllis and Ada offer a positive perspective on ageing, suggesting that they are well-supported and enjoying life. Ada faces up to a new challenge when a facial lump is diagnosed as cancerous.

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Background information


Life events

  • A 'life event' is an incident or experience that has an impact on the direction or quality of an individual's life and personal development.
  • Major life events can have a profound effect on personal development ? especially social and emotional development. They often involve developmental transitions.
  • 'Expected' life events are events or milestones in social and personal development that occur at predictable points in the life cycle. Starting and leaving school and leaving home are examples of expected life events.
  • 'Unexpected' life events are usually negative experiences but can sometimes lead to positive change in a person's life. Bereavement, serious illness and disability are unexpected life events.
  • Moving home is a major transition in life, usually occurring in early adulthood that enables young people to become independent from their parents. This is Mark Tanner's goal and something that he clearly sees as important for his personal development.
  • Serious illness is a major but unexpected event that can result in massive changes to a person's whole lifestyle and sense of self. Ada faces this life event.
  • Disability can be inherited and present from birth (David Moncholi), or can be caused by accidents (Mark Tanner) or health problems (Phyllis). Disability can cause practical problems, psychological stress and alter a person's personal relationships and development opportunities. Friends, family and colleagues are likely to be affected by disability (Moncholi family).
  • Having children involves a change in role for both partners in a relationship and introduces new personal responsibilities and financial pressures. Parenthood can be a positive, enjoyable experience but can also seem a burden and create high levels of stress (Bath family).

Forms of support

  • A major life event involves a person experiencing change and requiring support.
  • Forms of family and social support and professional care services can be used to help people to cope and adapt to life events.
  • Families often provide practical and emotional support at times of stress, change and crisis. This is particularly the case where the life event has emotional / psychological effects.
  • Social support typically involves practical help and advice from people, such as work colleagues and friends. Voluntary organisations and informal support groups provide a great deal of support to families with childcare needs and to disabled people in Britain.
  • Professional support is provided by health and social care workers who are trained to deal with complex health and personal problems. This type of support often involves the provision of more complex or technical assistance, adapted equipment or therapeutic interventions.

Care workers

  • Occupational Therapists work mainly with people who have disabilities. Their role includes the assessment of an individual's functional ability, motivation and their physical environment. They tend to use various forms of activity to promote and maximise an individual's occupational performance, and to develop and maintain daily living skills. Occupational therapists may also recommend environmental adaptations and the use of adapted equipment to support and enable individual functioning.

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Curriculum Relevance

  • This programme is primarily linked to Unit 3, Understanding personal development and relationships.
  • Aspects of the content also allow links to be made to the topics of care workers, care services and needs in Unit 1.
  • Life events are explicitly covered in the sections on Jane (birth of twins), Mark (moving home / living independently) and Ada (cancer diagnosis and treatment). Additionally, the unexpected life event of having and caring for a disabled child is the underlying theme of the sections involving Karen Moncholi.
  • The need for and use of different forms of support in coping with life is a strong theme throughout the programme. Jane describes her need for child care and housing support, and Karen Moncholi refers to the formal and informal support needed by David. Mark Tanner resists offers of assistance and formal support. Ada and Phyllis describe sources of informal support available to them.

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  1. Identifying life events

    Students should read the statements below and identify whether each life event is predictable or unpredictable, or if they are unsure about it, by placing a tick in the appropriate box.

  2. Life event Predictable Unpredictable Unsure
    Getting your first job
    Leaving home to live on your own
    Winning the lottery
    Becoming a parent
    Being mugged in the street
    Starting primary school
    Getting married
    Passing your GCSEs
    Leaving secondary school
    Developing a serious illness

  3. Life events, coping and support

    When a person experiences a major life event they are likely to need some additional support to help them to cope with it. Get students to read through the list of major life events in the table below and identify the kinds of support they think would be most useful for someone who is affected by each event.

  4. Life event Type of support needed How might this help?
    Having a baby
    Taking your GCSE exams
    Losing your job
    The death of a friend or close relative
    Being excluded from school
    Losing your sight
    Developing a serious illness
    Starting primary school
    Leaving home to live on your own for the first time

  5. Nobody is truly 'independent' in the sense of being able to cope without the support of other people. In reality we rely on other people to help us get through life. We need a network of family, friends, work or schoolmates, and sometimes professional care workers, to help us to cope with the demands of life. This is especially the case when we are experiencing the effects of a major life event.

    1. Students should produce a diagram with themselves in the centre, showing the sources of support that are available to help them both in daily life and during problems with health or wellbeing. As well as family and friends, they should think about sources of support at school, work and in their local community.

More lesson ideas

Click here for more lesson ideas

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Parenthood and child care
Informal care t
Cancer information

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