Children’s Mental Health Week
Little Voices- Ages 7-12
We know that children, whilst incredibly resilient, are struggling at the moment with the isolation of Lockdown 3 and the intensity of life at home, as children get older, they naturally build up that resistance to opening up, they become more self-aware and consequently more self-conscious; we know as performing arts teachers that these are inhibitors when it comes to building the skills we need so we use many techniques to make all of our children feel safe, valued, and seen. I have written a few down here for you to take ideas from at home, hopefully some of the more creative outlets will help to encourage children to express themselves.
- Create a character – I use this exercise whenever we open a new script, so maybe to fill out an existing character, or perhaps if we are devising or improvising, there will be a need to work form scratch. You’ll need a piece of paper and a pen. The idea is to draw (as well as you can, stick people are fine!) and then label their characteristics, these can be traits, habits, gestures/facial expressions/likes/interests/what their friends say about them etc. If we’re using this exercise to help with self expression, I would say “draw yourself in a year’s time, or yourself as a grown up. The idea is to fill in as many details about that person as possible and can be a great conversation starter, you can do one for yourself too, and then as an extension you can swap and jot down how the other person sees you.
- Bibbidi Bobbidi What am I doing?! – This one is a little like charades, you can adapt it to make it relevant, or add your own categories. You might stand together, you shout BIBBIDI and you jump, you shout BOBBIDI, you jump, you shout WHAT AM I DOING, and you both have to mime an action, the theme might be “things I can’t wait to do”, you would all guess what the other is doing and the aim is to try not to match with someone else in the game, so if you both mime “ice skating” you’re out. This is a great opener for finding out some of the things they are missing and perhaps trying to incorporate a version of it at home.
- Take control of the breath – As a singing teacher, I spend a lot of my time talking about breath control, and we practice this in all of the lessons we do, but there are a few simple exercises you can do at home which not only help with building control of the breath, but help to focus the mind too. One is you hold out one hand and trace the edge of it with a finger from the opposite hand, as you trace going up, you breathe in slowly and steadily, as you trace coming down you breathe out. This makes five nice slow breaths and you can add a fun element where you go as slowly as you possibly can, the slower the better!
I hope these few exercises give a few extra ideas if you’re worried about your child please do reach out to me if there is anything I can do, they are all doing fantastically and it is a delight to see them each week in lessons!
Lots of love,