Dayle Green describes the initiatives put in place by a Nottinghamshire Gallery to provide creative experiences for all children
After more than a year where many children have missed out on creative and learning experiences, summer holiday activities will play an important part in tackling that disruption.
Schooling has been a bit of a roller coaster since the spring of 2020, with anecdotal evidence showing that many have not only missed out on learning opportunities but lost out on being with others.
The addition of summer schools and holiday activities for children this year will go some way to helping make up for lost time, filling educational gaps and boosting wellbeing. For those with children who often face barriers to inclusion due to their special educational needs, there is also the possibility they may have similar challenges accessing school holiday programmes.
However, it needn’t be difficult. There are a number of new schemes this year where parents can book days of activities, giving children the opportunity to try out new things.
Activities organised by the Learning Team at The Harley Gallery in Nottinghamshire, for example, aim to have a broader benefit for all children taking part, whatever their creative, learning or physical abilities.
Engagement with education relies on different approaches. The team believes that art makes life better. Art can give so much enjoyment, both in making and looking, and it also helps us to understand ourselves and others better.
Learning outside the classroom offers the chance to learn more, experience learning in a different setting and meet others. They offer experiences that will capture the imagination, with opportunities to get hands-on and learn practical making skills.
The workshops and activities at The Harley Gallery are tailored each time to meet the needs of those participants attending so that, whatever their age or ability, they will get something out of the programme.
Logistical barriers can be overcome to embrace creativity. The enriched programme is devised to give youngsters the opportunity to learn new creative skills, whilst meeting others and having fun. It is about helping children who missed out on meaningful experiences over the past year, and helping them have fun exploring different ways to get creative.
With ages ranging from 4 through to 12 years, each child has different levels of needs and work at different learning speeds. That doesn’t matter. They don’t even need to complete all the challenges set. All have the opportunity to be creative in some form and learn something new.
“After a year where we have been unable to host activities like this, we are excited to be able to welcome youngsters back over the summer,” says Ruth Waller, who will be leading the Summer School at the gallery.
“We love inspiring young minds to be creative and, over the past year, many have missed out on meaningful experiences. The activities promise to be fun and inspiring as well as educational.”
The nature of the sessions is that they don’t have a set format and are tailored to whoever attends. It’s about breaking down barriers so that all children can learn something new, experience a new environment and meet new people.
Led by The Harley Gallery educational team, the programme includes the chance to create huge pieces of art, soft textile sculptures and tie-dyed shirts. There will also be a nature themed day where youngsters can create art out of natural materials collected within the country estate of Welbeck, where the gallery is based. Other activities include creating a giant marble run and a crazy golf course.
While some participants may face barriers outside of the gallery, as the activities are tailored to each child, the children learn at their own pace. There are age differences as well as creative and learning abilities. What is important is that everyone has a go at learning new things and visiting places that they may not have normally.