Independent Arts has launched a progressive new project running a weekly school room in a care home where school children and homes’ residents learn alongside one another in a highly creative and mutually supportive environment.
Independent Arts has been developing links with Dover Park Primary School, Ryde, over the past two years, running creative collaborations with pupils from years 2 and 3 and residents from Cornelia Heights residential home. The new project is more ambitious in that it involves the same Reception-aged children visiting the home once a week for a whole morning of creative lessons alongside residents over a twelve-week pilot period during spring and summer 2018.
The idea of running a school in a care home is not new one, and some ground-breaking work has already been done in this field in the US. The benefits for both groups are obvious. Not that long ago children were regularly cared for by the older members of their families, and yet today, with more pressures on families, children are increasingly being put into after school clubs and day care settings to cover the gaps.
Spending time with the elderly, children learn very early on to be accepting, tolerant and compassionate, all necessary skills for ensuring a caring, inclusive society. They can also be shown new perspectives, and benefit from the wisdom of so many years of lived experience.
Similarly, the elderly who are often the most isolated in the community have the opportunity, once again, to play an extremely important developmental role, providing the stability and ballast that children need to feel secure and to develop confidence as they grow up.
Independent Arts has put together a carefully devised creative programme for this project across the twelve-week pilot phase. As well as enjoying, lessons in art, music, poetry and story-telling, residents and pupils will be working together on an indoor garden and in their early classes have been learning Makaton sign language together.
The early signs are very positive. With such an incredible age range (the youngest pupil being 4 and the oldest being 94) lesson content is a constant surprise. In week one, during a Makaton signing class, resident Ron introduced the children to the V sign for victory telling them that it had been "invented by a very great man called Winston Churchill during WWII".
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