02 Apr 2019

Always learning as a practitioner

Written by: Alice Tomkinson
I have always felt very inspired by Doorstep Arts. As a person who has grown up in Torbay and has been very heavily passionate about the arts, I haven’t seen such commitment, hard work and creativity happen so powerfully in this town. Doorstep have impacted all ages (including parents) by using creative arts as a tool and stimulus.
Taking part in the Early Years group felt quite daunting when realising it’s not just the children you impact…it’s the mothers, fathers, carers, childminders and grandparents that bring them.
I realised quickly that this group is far more than playing games and singing familiar songs, it’s all about community, creative freedom and impacting a younger generation.
My biggest skill from helping facilitate this group has been teaching the parents how to play with their child. That stories and silly noises can all be a massive breakthrough in their relationship and the child’s development.
I have seen shy children come to life and find a voice through a very simple exercise. I have seen mums open up and be comforted by being handed a cup of tea and a smile.
I have witnessed a community playing, interacting and encouraging one another through pretending to be rockets and treasure hunts.
Polly, the lead drama practitioner, has spent the last few months equipping me to be mindful, calm and confident within an early years setting. She’s shown me how to use the children’s imagination and ideas to shape a creative moment. I have completely lost myself in flying around like birds with the children and waking up elves and fairies in the trees outside.
What we do may for an outsider seem slightly crazy and wild, but I have no doubt the long lasting effects of these magical moments are what will give the children strength, comfort and boldness in finding their identity. I love that we use all areas and aspects of the space at Torre Abbey, using its long history to inspire the younger generation. I love how we encourage laughter, in all its ugly and wonderful expressions, to shape what we do.
After each session, Polly and myself spend time reflecting on how we can improve the way we facilitate the space. We go through each child as an individual, making sure we are meeting them and supporting them in the ways they need. We then spend time discussing the family dynamics and perhaps things we notice the mums need- an encouraging word or some resources to get them inspired at home.
I’ve learned how to communicate well, facilitate with colour and excitement and ultimately use a variety of storytelling/drama tools to see breakthrough and discovery in the children we work with.