Polka may be closed but that hasn’t stopped their efforts to provide educational resources and entertainment for children during the pandemic. Addressing the impact of lockdown-living on emotional and mental health, the theatre has created a series of digital Mental Health and Wellbeing workshops to be freely accessed by schools, from Reception to Year 6.
Following successful in-person workshops with primary schoolchildren last autumn, Polka will now take these workshops online, filming the content to make it readily accessible to a wider audience. The videos aim to use drama activities to bring an interactive, practical and fun approach to talking about mental health at a young age. Using the fictional story of Mo, a boy living through lockdown during the pandemic, children will be able to explore the problems and stresses he faces, making connections with their own experiences and emotional challenges. All recordings will be accompanied by activity sheets to engage learning further.
With varying degrees of home-schooling having dominated the last year, Ofsted reports have shown a notable decline in children’s mental and physical stamina within the classroom. Reduced concentration, diminished communication skills, and a lack of independence in younger years are all psychological wounds incurred by this difficult period. Through the digital workshops, Polka hope to provide invaluable tools and resources to help address these problems.
Polka’s Artistic Director Peter Glanville comments, With one in six children now having a probable mental health disorder (NHS Digital/ONS), it is essential that we do all we can to support them through this pandemic. Children’s mental health is as important as their physical health, and many are experiencing increased levels of anxiety. These filmed workshops, free to schools and the community, are part of a 10-month programme from Polka Theatre, helping children to express and understand the feelings and emotional challenges they are facing.
Polka temporarily closed for a major redevelopment in February 2019 and will reopen in 2021. In the meantime, Polka continues to offer activities to schools, community groups and the public, helping to keep children creative, with a range of live, recorded and downloadable activities.