BTEC Performing Arts present 'Hope'

This term the BTEC Performing Arts students have been working on a Theatre in Education unit where we have been developing and producing a Forum Theatre play. Forum Theatre is a type of theatre originally developed by Brazilian practitioner Augusto Boal in the 1960s under the umbrella of 'Theatre of The Oppressed'. The play usually deals with a situation where there is some kind of oppression. The skit is shown twice, and on the second showing the audience ('spect-actors') are allowed to shout 'stop', step forward and take the place of one of the oppressed characters showing how they could change the situation to enable a different, more positive outcome. Several alternatives may be explored by different 'spect-actors'. The other actors remain in characters, improvising their responses. A facilitator (Joker) is necessary to enable communication between the players and the audience. The strategy breaks through the barrier between performers and audience, putting them on an equal footing. It enables participants to try out courses of action which could be applicable to their every day lives. Originally the technique was developed by Boal as a political tool for change, but has been widely adapted for use in educational contexts.

The BTEC Performing Arts students explored many different topics before settling on a play that dealt with issues of stress, harrassment and bullying. Their performance of the play, called 'Hope', on Friday at the KS4 and 5 assembly was a great success, with many members of the audience offering up some very good solutions. As part of the unit, the students also designed posters and support material, samples of which you can see here.

Supporting Children's Emotional Development

Children’s responses to the different feelings they experience every day have a major impact on their choices, their behaviour, and on how well they cope and enjoy life. 

Emotional development involves learning what feelings and emotions are, understanding how and why they happen, recognising one’s own feelings and those of others, and developing effective ways of managing them. As children grow and are exposed to different situations their emotional lives also become more complex. Developing skills for managing a range of emotions is therefore very important for their emotional wellbeing.

Key points for supporting children’s emotional development

Providing effective support for children’s emotional development starts with paying attention to their feelings and noticing how they manage them. By acknowledging children’s emotional responses and providing guidance, parents, carers and school staff can help children understand and accept feelings, and develop effective strategies for managing them. 

Tune into children’s feelings and emotions 

Some emotions are easily identified, while others are less obvious. Tuning into children’s emotions involves looking at their body language, listening to what they are saying and how they are saying it, and observing their behaviour. This allows you to respond more effectively to children’s needs and to offer more specific guidance to help children manage their emotions. 

Help children recognise and understand emotions

Taking opportunities to talk with children and teach them about emotions helps children to become more aware of their own emotions as well as those of others. Encouraging children to feel comfortable with their emotions and providing them with practice in talking about their feelings helps children to further develop ways to manage their emotions. 

Set limits on inappropriate expression of emotions

It is very important for children to understand that it is okay to have a range of emotions and feelings, but that there are limits to the ways these should be expressed. While acknowledging children’s emotions, it is therefore very important to set limits on aggressive, unsafe or inappropriate behaviours. 

Be a role model

Children learn about emotions and how to express them appropriately by watching others – especially parents, carers and school staff. Showing children the ways you understand and manage emotions helps children learn from your example. This includes examples of saying: “Sorry, I lost my temper” (because no parent is perfect!) and then showing how you might make amends. 

When it comes to child development, feelings matter. Everyone feels overwhelmed at times but some children can react more strongly to everyday experiences than others. For this reason, it can be useful to understand how temperament affects feelings. Young children especially need adults to help them in developing coping skills for managing emotions. A great way to help children with their emotions is to role-model talking about emotions and being calm.

This can be especially helpful when supporting children around fear and worries. Everyone gets scared, and children can get scared for all sorts of reasons. Very young children are often afraid of imaginary things like monsters hiding under the bed. Older children usually fear real things that might happen, like being hurt.  All children need reassurance and support so they can learn to cope with fear and worries on their own.

Older children can also benefit from understanding the relationship between coping with fears and helpful self-talk. Making sense of older children’s emotions requires tuning in, reflecting back to them what you’re noticing and asking open-ended questions. Helping children to manage feelings builds emotional self-awareness and can also help children to understand how thinking affects feelings.

Healing Through Writing

Traumatic and grievous experiences can come into our lives unexpectedly. Healing takes time and, through writing, a person can shape and explore the difficulty.  Taking time to write of our own life experience provides a way to respect, hone and understand the trauma or loss.  We dignify our lives by taking seriously, in writing, the unwanted experience.  We can make meaning of tragedy.

The same goes for our students and often opportunities for exploring loss, trauma or difficult life experiences arise within our daily class activities. Just such an opportunity offered one of our Secondary students a place to explore and reflect on loss experienced within her own family. Read Sharon Frisby's beautiful tribute to her brother, Brian, and thank you to Sharon for so willingly sharing your story.

This is in memory of Brian.

Wednesday 13th of November 2013. I still remember this day like it was yesterday. This was the day I lost a very important person - my brother, Brian.

It was a normal school day; I dressed up in my school uniform and had a seat at the dining table, waiting for the school bus to arrive. As I was waiting I heard my father’s phone ring and he answered it. I overheard him mentioning Brian’s name and later on in the call also mentioning that he would arrive in Nairobi that afternoon. After my dad was done talking on the
phone, he came to the dining table and told us about what happened. He told us that Brian had been in hospital after a car accident he had gone through the other night and he told us that he must go to Nairobi with both my older brothers, Jason and George, as soon as possible. He didn’t say much, but he told us not to worry and that everything would be fine. I was in
shock and fear. I didn’t know what to say or do but pray to God that my brother was fine.

It was now 7:30am and the school bus had finally arrived. We went to school and I had a very bad, stressful day. All I could think about was my brother, Brian. I remember at some point after lunch I started crying and everyone was asking me what was wrong, but all I could say was I’m having family problems because I didn’t really want to talk about it otherwise I might feel even worse.

After school I got home and as the bus drove through the gate I saw men and women dressed in black. At that moment I knew that Brian was gone. So we all walked in the house and my grandfather was there sitting in the kitchen, also dressed in black. Patricia asked him if Brian had passed away and he replied yes. Patricia and Tania both dropped down on the floor in tears and pain. I couldn’t believe it. My grandfather took my hand and told me that Brian had really passed away. I was now pouring in tears; my heart was burning in pain. How could this have happened?? My grandfather talked to us to try calm us down, but still we couldn’t take it in.

After some time we all settled down a bit. We sat down together as siblings and started to talk about all the good memories we had with Brian. We each said what we liked best about Brian and today I still remember what I said. I love the fact that he would always have a smile on his face and be so chilled about everything. He was always there for me as a good brother and cared so much about me. He was so playful and made everything so fun. I remember playing ‘catch and catch’ with him when I was really young, my favorite childhood game. He would catch me and shout out “It” and then
carry me up, throw me in the air then catch me again. Those were the good old days.

I will never go a day without thinking about my brother Brian, forever in my heart. I miss him so much and as the days go by I miss him even more. I believe he is in a better place now.

Written by Sharon Frisby.

French and Art Meet in Primary

Our Key Stage 1 students receive French lessons twice a week, learning everything from their numbers to how to explain when they feel ill or have hurt themselves. To help with their understanding of all the names of the different parts of the body, Madam Tiana recently introduced sculpture-making to their class. Based on the artist, Giacometti, this hands on approach helped the children to connect the vocabulary they had been learning with the pieces of art they had created.

Creche in the Kitchen

Creche are starting to learn their life skills early with their activities this term around the theme 'Rhyme Time'. Through looking at different favourite rhymes each week, they take part in activities like singing, dancing, art, storytelling and also a bit of cooking!  This week was 'Five Little Monkeys Swinging in the Tree', and what better way to find out what monkes like to eat than having fun in the kitchen with bananas and chocolate! As you can see, it's never too early for children to start to learn simple things like using knives and forks.