Baratang Initiatives have developed numerous workshops that provide skills, games, and simple techniques as well as psycho-educational information to inform teachers, parents, and those who work with children. Understanding trauma and knowing how to respond to support young children during times of crises, by using healing arts, have become imperative. Recently we have been fortunate to tour around regions in the country to deliver training at schools that were eager to grow, flourish and prosper, despite adversity.
One of the schools we visited was located in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. In the beautiful countryside of Mooi Rivier, we were warmly welcomed and accommodated by the school’s Principal and teaching staff, who were keen to participate and learn. The small rural school was ‘home’ to just over one hundred students, with grades ranging from Foundation phase to grade seven.
Our plan was to demonstrate the tools and activities to teachers with one class, but it quickly became clear that all the learners wanted to partake. So we divided the morning into groups, making sure every class had a playful moment with us. Demonstrating games and exercises with the children quickly lead to the enthusiastic participation of the teachers. This moment of connection between teacher and student quickly became an experiential learning moment on how we can use play to assess difficulties and support healing. The students responded really well to the games, brightly lighting up, creating a very fulfilling experience for all, even the facilitators!
The second part of this training included trauma-informed teacher training based on the neuroscientific approach of Emergency Pedagogy without Borders. The theory was well received by the teachers as they engaged with the subject material, asking questions and posing ‘real life’ situations to strengthen their understanding of it. The teachers expressed their insecurity to respond to the emotional and sometimes physical needs of their students. They expressed further need for in-depth training, orientated towards healing themselves and the students. However, acknowledging the challenges of working with children experiencing hardship and trauma, the teachers felt they now knew what they were dealing with and what to do when it came to supporting their children to self-heal.
Nearly 6 months later, the school principal has sent us beautiful pictures and videos of the children having fun, singing, and dancing at a Spring Day celebration:
We want to thank you for the eye-opening training you gave us. We all realized the change after we implemented what you taught us.
About the author
A dynamic non-profit organisation responding to the crises in South African schools. Our mission is to positively change the face of education by supporting the growth of healthy school communities; addressing trauma and supporting learners to become healthy, caring and capable human beings.