Posted by Rupa Hemanth of Rasa Aadharan, Bengaluru
Initially, with the lockdown, parents often told us that the child was not in a mood to perform. He or she was not listening to them and had a lot of anxieties and mood swings. The child wanted to eat out, go out of the house for a walk, in spite of the restrictions. They were unable to understand the reason for the lockdown.
Hi! I am Rupa Hemanth. I run an institute called RASA AADHARAN for children and adults with special needs. My centre is about 7 years old. It started with about 5 children. Now, the number has gone up to 28 with 5 support staff. Our centre relies on the methodology “Theatre Arts for Holistic Development” (THD). THD incorporates the tools of dance, drama, music, art and craft and story telling. It works towards life skill development. Our centre is a branch of RASA, Chennai.
Prior to lockdown, our children would dress up in the morning and head to the centre as a habit. They would begin the day with prayer and yoga, followed by other sessions. Since, this was not happening, they were annoyed and anxiety issues began to surface.
At the institute, children would either be very enthusiastic or would not be interested in participating at all. Some would have issues with their mood and would complain about things. We would talk to them and convince them on one-on-one basis. Often, we re-created the situation by enacting through drama or story telling. And tried to make them understand what could have triggered the situation that they had faced. The point was to make them express their feeling and get them to feel a little relaxed. It often would end on a happy note and they would move on to the next sessions.
To manage the crisis during lockdown, we came up with online sessions. We decided to involve the parents, staff and the kids together to keep them occupied throughout the day. We spoke to them through video conference to make them feel our presence while engaging them with the routine activities. They accepted this method surprisingly well and started questioning their parents if an online session got delayed even by a few minutes.
Now a days, in dance, we take up shlokas, folk dance and a light dance. For music, the verbal students learn short poems, and the non-verbal kids go for action songs. The daily routine is designed similar to the pre-lockdown one followed at our centre. Parents are fully trained by us so they can monitor and help the child execute his / her daily routine.
• 07:00 hrs: Wake up
• 0730 hrs: Daily walk inside the house or on the terrace
• 0800 hrs: Yoga
• 0830 hrs: Prayer
• 0930 hrs: Breakfast
• 10:15 hrs: Sessions start
• Session 1: Warm up: To feel comfortable through the day
• Session 2: Dance: Watch and follow the steps as seen in the video
• Session 3: Music: Play, listen and follow the verbal diction
• Session 4: Arts & Crafts: Using simple videos with step by step guidance
Along with these sessions, the children help in cleaning / cutting vegetables, washing clothes, cooking and playing with siblings. A special focus is on interactions with the father – this was quite rare before lockdown. Every Monday, we have a video conference call with the parents and the child. On Fridays, we assess their performance.
This plan is running for the last 3 weeks. It has been going great. Children are enjoying their homestay with work. Their anxiety issues have come down. The children eagerly wait to get new assignments. When their friends and relatives appreciate them and their work, they feel even more motivated. Now a days, the children have started making video calls to the teachers on their own, to clarify their doubts regarding assignments given. This is a pleasant surprise to all of us.
With lockdown, the learning and development of our children has not stopped. In fact, the children continue to holistically grow, adapting beautifully to the situation. They are cooperating both with us and their parents. Kudos to them!