Play Matters.....
Special Times.
These words have a resonance for adults and children alike. Special Times is the name given for the time and space provided for children to explore and play with no remit or objective. The session usually lasts about 50 mins on a one to one basis and a number of props, objects and materials are available to use and recreate.

It describes a place of value, esteem, freedom and safety. The child is given allowance for control and acceptance where exploration is valued and possible. Children readily and naturally understand what this means and talk about their 'Special Times' with enthusiasm and it has a special awe for them.

A contract is agreed with the child that the session finishes at the allotted time and that all activity is decided by the child as long as there is no harm done to themselves or others. Experience shows that possible adults fears of anarchy or loosing control are unfounded. On the contrary most children are initially tentative with this freedom but soon understand what this means and respond positively and naturally. For a child, Play has deeper and more fundamental meaning in developing a language and a form for the unsaid.

Is it Art or is it Play?

Clay animal with collage
A full range of materials are brought to the session. This provides the scope and choice for discovery. These include the traditional art materials of paint (Non toxic.), paper in various sizes, brushes, pots. mixing trays, glue, clay and clay tools. Children also have the opportunity to use the sand tray. (See below.)
A large variety of other objects are presented in trays which provide stimulus for their texture, colour and shape.
It should be emphasised that children are not using these materials for Art making as such, instead they naturally see them as tools for direct use or in combination with each other. The outcomes of created things are usually evidence of a process or script for a story.
Toy objects of cars, dolls and various other figures are available which combine with collage, clay or are used as characters in the sand tray.
Clay of itself is very versatile. It doesn't just make things it has a feel in itself where hands can press and squeeze. The tactile quality of materials is very important.
No tidying up is done by the child at the end of the session and assemblages are sometimes preserved for use in the next session. Paintings or clay objects may be taken away on completion subject to health and safety considerations.

Collage of various materials
Collage and paint
Clay. Eggs
An example of sand tray work

Bird and Eggs

Sand TraY.
Sand Trays have a long history with a lot of theoretical writing about it, which lies beyond the remit of this site. I have had the privelige of working and learning with Betty Hughes who has considerable experience and qualifications in this area.
On a practical level
it involves the use of a tray of about two feet square filled with clean, unsticky sand. Children then can use this field of focus to perform and relate a story, event or process, using a number of props, toys, animals and objects etc. Some children find this an effective and compelling medium for saying something about them and the world that they are in which goes beyond words. A moving example of its use can be read here.

All children undertaking Special Times have to have a consent form signed by a Parent or legal guardian.
The cost is £30 per session. Please note in this respect that funding via the school, educational authority or other charitable body may be available. (this is currently the case in some of the schools that I work.)
Please do not hesitate to contact me and discuss this or any other aspects of this work. Remember any child could valuably benefit from Special Times or Non-Directive Play. I look forward to hearing from you.

Group Art Activities.
I do conduct Creative Art activities for half or whole days. These could be for holiday times, weekends, birthdays, fairs or special parent forums.
Group sessions undertaken include community projects such as 'Mick's Garage' in Worthing, West Sussex. Parents projects for Sure Start and several Birthday party events.
Prices are assesed according to the group size. All materials are provided. Venues can be booked according to need. Please see my contact page for details.

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