after the Pilot Project
During this project I benefited from knowledge of early years
practice and creative play from the support and training of DNA.
I was able to explore this creative play on an experimental level
within a supportive environment, and as part of a team of artists
and play-workers, albeit in different environments.
I benefited from becoming conscious of the role of the facilitator
and of the opportunity to break habitual role patterns that I as
an artist may have.
I particularly benefited from learning more about children’s
play and what external factors affect children’s development, as
well as the difference between adult and children’s perception
of imaginative play.
The Imaginary Leaps project has been a real learning curve for
me. I have had training and extensive experience of working with
children on many varied creative projects of all ages. With this
particular age group, in the past, I have provided workshops where
I have led as well as participated as a leader in role (i.e. I
become a character myself and would act) and there was a specific
learning agenda. I have worked from the basis of a structured
workshop plan which always remained open to change and of course
open to the children’s or young people’s creativity that it
intends to encourage. However to approach a session without a plan
or idea of which stimuli it would be for me was a little bit out
of my comfort zone. From this I learnt to embrace free play and
completely child led activities that were both enlightening and
inspiring to experience. From researching Tina Bruce I learnt the
importance of free play and could see results in the work that I
did with Stoneygate Nursery. Notably the project increased
confidence in many children and also extended and challenged the
play of the more confident children. It was interesting trying to
gauge the fine line between supporting and extending play without
taking control. Learning to be a “play catalyst”, create a
stimulating environment, while acknowledging the children’s play
agendas. Encouraging rich play, but to know when to take a step
back to observe and let it happen. I look forward to using and
developing the knowledge I have gained and found it overall a
rewarding and interesting experience.
First of all, I absolutely loved my 8 weeks working in Wade
Hall Children's Centre in Leyland.† Although the group was
small, I felt this was an ideal situation for me, and the fact
that the participants were all boys was quite unique.
I feel very strongly, and this particular experience has confirmed
my belief - that an "artist" should enter a space as an
artist and not be tempted over a period of time, to become a
“teacher”. It is so easy to start looking for an outcome,
rather than inspiring children and young people with the artist's
form.† I tried really hard to allow the boys to explore whatever
stimulus I had introduced, in their own way, at their own pace.†
There were moments when I must have manipulated the situation, but
I tried very hard not to. I believe that this gives a stronger
foundation for children to explore creatively.
However, this style of working takes a massive amount of patience
as it takes time for children to tap into their own creative
energy. So, I learnt patience too!