The ABC of Child Whispering: M is for MAGIC and MYSTERY

 

Cute school boy sitting on floor and using his smartphone

I am getting ready for tomorrow’s NEW-START workshop and thinking of ways to introduce some magic and mystery to the environment.

Last year we ran this workshop in Singapore and Perth and we turned the lights out and had scores of twinkling electric stars and candles when the children came in.Charlotte 2

The room felt like a IMG_3221cosy but mysterious cave and the children were all asked to remove their shoes as they entered. This signalled that we were going to be doing something quite different. We were going to get in touch with our deeper selves and try some transformation- all of us- adults and children!

We try very hard to create an air of mystery and magic at ICE and surprisingly it isn’t expensive or hard. You simply have to view the environment through the eyes of a child and then let your imagination run wild!

We have a star of learning that is switched on at every session to show how much we value learning and a learning tree complete with coloured lights that is hung with symbols of all the important learning activities we do as we go through the year.star

We always have quiet, relaxing music and some soothing art/craft or books ready for the children when they arrive. I love watching the way they visibly relax as they enter this magical space and start to interact. Children are so ready to enter into their imaginations and learn when given environments such as this.

I have been into so many amazing classrooms this year to train teachers and I have seen some wonderful, inviting environments deliberately crafted by wise, child-whispering teachers who understand the effect these surroundings make for children.IMG_5199

Parents can create a sense of sacred importance when they eat together as a family. Simply dimming the lights and lighting a candle to represent the love of the family, can create a special atmosphere. Children are far more likely to want to talk and communicate deeply in such special spaces.

Giving ourselves a magical interlude calms us and helps us open up to each other. It is no accident that romantic restaurants have candles and dim lights! Let’s also provide those spaces for our children to nurture their wonderful sense of magic and mystery. This is how we grow the imaginations and rich neural connections children need for learning!learning tree

NO TIME TO IMAGINE ANYMORE!

 

imagination

 

 

 

 

We are once again losing the plot!

Schools are using NAPLAN as their excuse for turning themselves into efficient factories with kids having knowledge rammed into them reminiscent of Dickens’ HARD TIMES scenarios!

Of course we have to improve young minds, help children retain knowledge, remember facts and spell, read, write and do basic maths. Nobody would argue with that.

But…we also have to inspire, light the fires of curiosity, lead, excite a love of learning, teach how to know oneself and how to be with others. We are called to be EDUCATORS and truly educating a child is a complex task calling for highly trained, sensitive and empathic human beings to lead, motivate and awaken hearts and minds.

This young extremely intelligent 9 year old had some literacy issues and LOVED the school holidays because she could dream, imagine, make things (she was a gifted little artist), and just be herself. As soon as school started her imagination had to shut down.

She came in crying one afternoon and thrust these words into my hands. I could hardly speak. I asked her if she would mind if I shared her words with teachers and her reply? “I WANT YOU TO!” So here I am sharing this child’s honest comments.

Let me translate:
All my imagination has to be locked up. I feel sad about this. Because school has started again. I have no time to imagine any more.

Surely we should be doing the opposite? Surely we should be awakening their imaginations by reading them great literature, providing enriching experience in the arts, music and movement and promoting divergent thinking skills?

Is this the bleak future we are offering? In that case we can expect more children to tune out, lose interest, become sad, depressed and lose the ability to dream up the future. We need to wake up from this nightmare and give our children back their hopes, dreams and futures.

TODAY LET’S PLAY WITH ART!

41835873[1]I LOVE watching children create! This week we have many creative holiday courses at ICE and I am fascinated by the way all kids can comprehend more and write fluently if they are encouraged to use art as a tool to help them learn! Whenever we have these days they are messy, unpredictable, enjoyable but above all filled with learning – and lots of it!

I have never met an uncreative child or an uncreative adult. Art is a wonderful tool for all families and individuals to use to unlock the creative process, improve learning and build self understanding!

Here are a few ideas to get you started- both kids and adults!

* Stop criticising yourself or your child as you draw or create- just enjoy the process!

* Keep a CREATIVITY BOX handy – fill it with crayons, coloured pencils, markers, stickers, a tin of paints and brushes, different sorts of paper, cardboard toilet rolls, old Christmas and Birthday cards, scissors, sticky tape and so on!

* Turn the TV off regularly and get the CREATIVITY BOX out so it is easily accessible.

* Sketch a much loved garden plant- follow every line of stem and leaf so you intimately KNOW the plant- this is sort of like a slowing down and meditation exercise. We often use this with very “sparky-brained” and “wired” children!

* Occasionally turn a drawing upside down to copy it. It encourages very careful copying and seems to suspend the self- criticism voice. You become more aware of the lines, shapes and the results are often quite pleasing!

* Get to art galleries regularly with your children so they can get to see great models and start to develop art appreciation.

* Buy some great kids’ art books- there are many available to help kids get to know artists and learn new techniques.

* When you read to your child  make sure you spend time discussing the illustrations and the style, techniques, colours that have been used by the illustrator. Picture books so often have more information in the pictures than the text!

* Link NATURALIST and VISUAL SPATIAL intelligences by constructing collages with objects found in the natural world such as bark, sand, leaves, berries etc.

* Use chalk on bricks and drive ways to draw. It is completely non- threatening because it can be washed off.

* Make some play-dough or purchase some plasticine and make the main characters from the book you are sharing with your child. This helps them develop characterisation understanding- very important for the writing genre.

* Paint pictures of the settings of stories you read aloud.

There is no doubt that enjoying art- both for yourself and your child, will lead to deeper learning, increased ability to imagine, wonder and dream and higher intra-personal and visual spatial intelligences!