Our Life Skills Programme is exciting and fun and this term we have had many laughs together. An important lesson learnt is that “we do not laugh at each other, but with each other!”
The concept of using play activities, dance, music and enactment to learn about the world and process life situations is not new. Humans have been doing this through the centuries. Children also do this in a very natural way. Unfortunately the environments in which some children find themselves are not always conducive to play. Instead of encouraging creativity and imagination, and developing these in a constructive way, such environments do not always allow children to play in a free, non-critical and safe way.
Music, drama and play activities have powerful reparative potential for young learners. Through this type of play, children are assisted in learning about life and are guided in finding skills to cope with challenges they experience. This helps to develop inner strength and build resilience as a coping mechanism. Drama activities, which include the use of story, rhythmic and musical activities, structured games and art-making, offer particularly valuable and multi-faceted opportunities for experiential learning.
Our themes for the last few months were creativity, imagination, teamwork and problem solving. The themes are designed to give learners a chance to formulate their own ideas, feel and share emotions, build trust and work together as a team. Through life skills games, they are able to get to know each other better and work on their self-confidence.
In the first term of our drama adventure with the R-3 group we meet three lovable characters: Lion, monkey and mouse. At some point monkey goes missing and lion and mouse ask the learners for their help to find him. We all pack a suitcase filled with things that we might need on our mission and we head to the jungle. In the jungle we encounter some obstacles and we need to use what we packed to help us solve these problems. With these games we are developing problem solving skills in a fun and imaginative way, but we are leading children to develop a new way of thinking. They are able to overcome obstacles and they already have what they need to do so.
The above mentioned Lion is a character with anger issues, which many times prevent him from making friends. In one of our lessons we call in the learners as experts, asking their help to teach lion control his anger. Together we teach him about breathing and visualisation techniques. 6 months after we first did this lesson one little boy ran to his facilitator saying: Teacher, Selvin wanted to hit Mickyle, so I told him he must first just breath like lion!