The fall semester of the Arts & Smarts Children’s Program is underway. We’re making art, we’re building academic skills, and we’re having fun. This will be a year unlike any before it, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’ve adjusted our programming for increased safety and we’re all settling into the new routines and schedules. Among our participants, we have a core group of familiar faces and a few new additions, too!
To help Jane, Leslie, and Rita run the program, we have a great group of interns from Ivy Tech and the University of Southern Indiana. The interns have taken turns leading group games and telling about their sparks—the things that interest and excite them. Our participants have begun to take their turns sharing their sparks, as well. One girl loves caring for cats, and we all have seen the way she has nurtured a neighborhood tabby back to health, so last week she brought the cat to Patchwork, complete with a harness and leash, as an illustration of this spark.
Among the many adjustments we’ve made within our program, we foldied tutoring into all of our other activities. Instead of having a separate tutoring program and scheduled tutoring sessions, at the beginning of every day each child is cheerily greeted with the question, “Do you have any homework today?” If the answer is yes, the child is paired with an adult and the two choose a carrel where they can work together to make sure the child understands and completes the day’s homework. If the child doesn’t have homework, there are other activities to do or games to play.
Meanwhile, Jean has been leading a variety of art projects. First, she taught our participants how to use a sewing machine to sew their own face coverings. It was a new experience for the children, and for many of our adult staff and volunteers as well! After this experience in fabric construction, participants made a second mask by drawing colorful patterns using fabric markers on silk masks. Next they will create mandalas that illustrate who they are as individuals and what they like to do. After that, they will draw self-portraits that we hope to incorporate into some new outdoor public art at Patchwork.
Mixed into all of this, we’ve had visits from musicians, and we’ll have story time with visiting artist Susan Fowler this coming Monday (weather permitting). She will tell the story of Jamaica Louise James, the book we’re using as inspiration for our visual art activities for the semester. It’s the story of a girl who uses her interests and talents to go out and make her neighborhood a better place.
Throughout all of these activities, we’re encouraging children to be their best selves, we’re building high quality relationships between the children and our staff and volunteers, and we’re creating a supportive community.