Kids Club: learning to get along with each other...
August 11 2015

Kids Club:  learning to get along with each other . . .

At Maunga Kids Club in Livingstone, Zambia, the children have been working on getting along together better.  With the support of our interns and volunteers, our older children have talked about recognising bullying and what to do if they think they‘ve been bullying someone or have been a victim of bullying.  We were really pleased to see them come up with some excellent strategies for helping classmates who are being picked on and for how to stand up to a bully.  One group suggested asking adults and older children for help and another suggested explaining to the bully how much he or she was hurting the victim(s).  These discussions are great not just for helping children to think about difficult issues that may affect them, but also to help them express feelings and more complicated thoughts in English.

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During one session, the children looked at photos of children showing different emotions and tried to decide how the child was feeling and whether this child was a bully, a victim or someone witnessing bullying.  As they worked through the photos, they realised they couldn’t tell just by looking whether someone is a bully, a victim or a witness – something most hadn’t thought about before.  The grand finale to the topic put the children‘s acting skills to the test and there were some award-worthy performances as children acted out role-plays about bullying.

Kids Club 1

The scenes were paused part way through so the audience could identify the bullies, the victims and people who could help.  Children in the audience suggested strategies for resolving the conflict before watching the actors deliver their own solutions.  At the end of our final session on bullying, we encouraged the children to help each other when facing bullying and to tell their friends, teachers or other adults they trust if they are struggling with how they or their friends are being treated.  We’ll revisit this topic later in the year and see how the children are getting on.

. . . and learning to ask lots of questions ...

One of the aims of our Basic Life Skills programme is to help children develop enquiring minds.  Differences in teaching styles, as well as the difficulty of learning in English as an additional language, means that asking questions in English is quite tricky for most of the children in our village schools.  The children have been working hard on this at Natebe Primary School, another rural school in Livingstone.  A particularly successful activity has been encouraging the children to interview new volunteers to find out all about them:  their names, where they come from, etc.  The children have been especially interested in the volunteers‘ favourite foods!  After just one session with this game, the children are already more confident whenever they meet new volunteers - although some of the volunteers went very quiet when Joseph asked them their ages at last week’s Book Club!  We’re now working on helping the children to ask questions that are more strategic.  When playing “Guess What’s On My Whiteboard?” children are learning to ask questions like “Is it an animal?” rather than “Is it a lion?  Is it an impala?  Is it an elephant . . .?”  We’ve been especially pleased to see this new skill has transferred into other areas and our Natebe children are now asking more questions in Book Club too.

 . . .  and, for our younger children, learning English through playing and singing.

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Our younger children at both Maunga and Natebe Kids Clubs really enjoy the attention they get from working in small groups, or individually with volunteers, interns and volunteer coordinators who sit and colour, play games, sing and talk with them.  This gives them much needed exposure to English from an early age and offers some extra attention as well as some fun activities over the weekend. 

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In return, we sometimes get a free hairdressing session.  This week, it was Kira’s turn.

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We like to end Kids Club with a guided playing session where we all join in some organised games together.  It sends everyone – children, volunteers, interns and staff – home with big smiles on their faces.

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About Kids Club

Kids Club is our opportunity to implement our Basic Life Skills Course.  The aim of the course is to assist children and adolescents to gain essential skills needed to operate effectively in society in an active and constructive way.  Topics in the course include; self-esteem, coping with stress, effective communication, decision making, problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution.  The course has been developed by David Brackstone of John Taylor High School, UK using a programme in use at that school and adapted for use in our schools in Africa.

About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)

Basic Life Skills courses are one aspect of the work of our ALERT Education Centres.  The AEC operations at Livingstone (Zambia), Victoria Falls and Antelope Park (Zimbabwe) are all aimed at supporting the formal education system by offering extra-curricular activities to enhance student learning, and assisting with access to education for vulnerable students.  Current programs include the provision of classes in conservation education, basic life skills, and English literacy.  In addition, we provide funding to pay the fees of vulnerable students to take part in education from pre-school to university level, and fully funded internship and facilitated research placements for university level students.  Future programmes will incorporate classes in numeracy, health & nutrition, physical education and business studies/entrepreneurship, as well as a variety of vocational training.  The AEC is operated in association with Coventry University (UK), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) and Copperbelt University (Zambia), and with the assistance of David Brackstone of John Taylor High School (UK).   The first AEC, at Antelope Park, was opened in 2012 by the then Zimbabwe Minister of Education, Mr. David Coltart.

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