Creative support for young children after trauma
14 December 2023
A new set of creative resources designed to support children’s wellbeing after distressing experiences will be available to early childhood educators from July 2024.
Aimed at supporting students returning to school after a crisis, the popular Te Rito Toi online arts-based resources from the University of Auckland’s Centre for Arts and Social Transformation (CAST) will soon include resources for children aged three to five.
Centre director Professor Peter O’Connor says the resources, which are currently available for primary-aged children, have already been used in more than 100 countries.
“We’re so excited that fundraising earlier this year now means we can develop a world- first resource for early childhood educators, where the arts will help children and teachers come back together after traumatic events.”
The curriculum-based activities will include visual arts, drama, music, dance, play and nature play, and there will also be picture book and classroom play space suggestions.
Leading this work will be learning designer Emily Gibson, a masters graduate and research assistant at CAST, who will be collaborating with world experts, artists and educators to devise the resource.
“We will employ a trauma-informed approach to supporting the holistic well-being of young children,” she says.
“Te Rito Toi Early Childhood Edition will employ the arts and play to engage young people in making sense of their experiences, grounding them in the present, experiencing a sense of safety, feeling connected to others, and regaining a sense of hope.”
We’re so excited that fundraising now means we can develop a world-first resource for early childhood educators, where the arts will help children and teachers come back together after traumatic events.
Gibson says the centre is acting on sector feedback that there was a need for this sort of resource in early childhood centres and she can’t wait to get started so it can be available from July 2024.
Te Rito Toi resources, which were specifically developed to help children coming back to school after Covid lockdowns, are underpinned by extensive research that suggests children’s stories, concerns and questions should be addressed in classrooms.
Teachers can lead learners to engage with possibility and to reimagine a better world, says Peter O’Connor.
“Based on international research confirming the central role of the arts in meaning making and the renewing of hope, Te Rito Toi positions the arts at the centre of children’s return to schooling after disaster and crises, and Emily is the perfect person to lead this development for CAST.”
The Centre for Arts and Social Transformation is based within the Faculty of Education and Social Work at Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland.
Julianne Evans | Media adviser
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