Sock pup­pets rock with chil­dren

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

It’s not al­ways easy be­ing a kid. Many chil­dren ar­rive at school strug­gling with their emo­tions and wor­ries.

In 2012, Les­ley Bates of So­cial Socks was work­ing for Feilding’s Manch­ester House as a child coun­sel­lor vis­it­ing chil­dren in their pri­mary schools. She re­mem­bers think­ing there had to be a bet­ter way to help the more vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren.

‘‘There are many chil­dren who have had sig­nif­i­cant trauma and are shut down,’’ Les­ley says.

Ap­proached by Feilding’s North Street School to run a friend­ship pro­gramme for the ju­nior classes, she en­listed the help of fel­low coun­sel­lor, Shirley Jour­daine to de­velop a so­cial skills pro­gramme. It was a suc­cess, and the So­cial Socks Char­i­ta­ble Trust was es­tab­lished.

So­cial Socks is a fun, in­ter­ac­tive class­room based sev­en­week one-hour pro­gramme that helps pri­mary school chil­dren recog­nise and un­der­stand their emo­tions, to ex­press them in a healthy way, and form good friend­ships.

It has now been run in three Feilding Schools schools, and five schools in Palmer­ston North, with classes this term at Som­er­set Cres­cent, Mil­son, and Ter­race End School. The stars of So­cial Socks are Jo, Lucy and Zak, three large hand pup­pets who in­ter­act with the chil­dren.

‘‘Each ses­sion has a theme. In the first ses­sion, the chil­dren get to make their own sock pup­pets that they will use later to help them in­ter­act with each other. The chil­dren also have their own So­cial Socks work­book, and through songs and other re­sources learn about how to un­der­stand their emo­tions and be able to ex­press them in healthy ways.’’

Mil­son teacher Shel­ley Thomp­son says they are re­ally for­tu­nate to have the pro­gramme.

‘‘I see the chil­dren be­ing taught about their emo­tions, and how to deal with them. They get so much from the pup­pets, and from the arts and crafts that come with the pro­gramme.’’

Shel­ley, like other teach­ers has found that So­cial Socks learn­ing can be in­cor­po­rated into other ar­eas as well as help­ful ways of deal­ing with con­flict. Teach­ers have also found it has helped them un­der­stand why a child is be­hav­ing in a cer­tain way. One teacher com­mented that the chil­dren men­tor each other, and have been heard say­ing, ‘‘I won­der what Lucy would do?’’ or ‘‘Zak says kind words’’.

‘‘It is such a priv­i­lege to be able see chil­dren’s eyes light up as they find their voice,’’ Les­ley says.

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

So­cial Socks teaches kids so­cial and per­sonal skills us­ing pup­pets. Shirley Jour­daine, pup­pet Jo with stu­dents clockwise from back left: – Jodeci An­der­son, Noah Fair­weather, Danni Long, Brit­tney Taven­dale, Flynn McDer­mott and O’Shea Pereniko.

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