I started Out of the Box workshops because of my love of seeing children engaging in creative play. With 15 years of experience teaching in the classroom, I have worked within the structures of the school system, which I have over time discovered to be all at once wonderful, challenging, exciting, dramatic, frustrating, boring, dynamic, inspiring but also limiting. I have always loved setting up projects for children that enable them to step into role, work together, come up with ideas and challenge themselves. Over the past few years, as the National Curriculum narrowed substantially, I found it difficult to dedicate the necessary time to work with children in the classroom in the way I felt I wanted to and believed in. Out of the Box emerged as a direct response to my recognition of the squeezing of the arts from the curriculum. I believe that it is vital for children to 'play' for many more hours than the school week provides. Through play, children can grow in so many different ways - creatively, socially, emotionally, academically. They can test their ideas, push themselves, and think in imaginative ways, not bound by expectations. Anyone who has witnessed a child learning something amazing through play will appreciate how profound this can be in terms of their development. Likewise when a child builds something that comes directly from his or her imagination.
Out of the Box workshops are mostly born when I see something that might be recycled - primarily cardboard boxes, but also bottles, tetrapaks, jars, plastic, textiles, sticks - anything can inspire a workshop! My most frequently held workshop is the 'Cardboard City', where children make houses, shops, dens, castles, rockets - anything they like - which then becomes part of a 'City'. The children use quite challenging techniques and sophisticated tools and fixings. I encourage role play such as making letterboxes and posting letters, playing cafes and doctors - all these sorts of starting points usually act as triggers to send the children off into a world of imaginative play. They work alone or together, seeing the necessity of concentration, cooperation and communication.
I also run a lot of workshops which have a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) focus, such as Arcade Games and Animalium, where children build things for a purpose, with functions and moving parts, involving planning, testing, making mistakes and learning.
I believe that these workshops foster confidence, build self-esteem, encourage teamwork, and inspire some extremely imaginative ideas, but there are many children who I would like to be able to reach who may not otherwise have the opportunity. It feels important to me to try and make my workshops more inclusive, which I am currently unable to do unless I look for some financial support.
Through Crowdfunder, I would like to raise the funds to be able to offer subsidised places on workshops for those who may not be able to afford it. I would also love to be able to provide something for those who have been excluded from mainstream because of social or emotional difficulties, particularly those who have been forced into home education because of the shortage of appropriate educational provision for these children. I am looking to set up workshops during term time, as well as continuing to provide weekend and holiday workshops. I will offer workshop packages which enable children to grow, develop and build on skills, as well as one-off workshops. I will be making links with local schools and communities to establish need and promote this.
I continue to work in the classroom as a supply teacher now. I find this enjoyable and rewarding, but I also like the balance I am able to strike by running Out of the Box. I would be so appreciative of your support. I have many plans and ideas and look forward to seeing if I'm able to raise enough to bring some of these ideas to fruition. As a sole trader, it is very difficult for me to access community grant funding, hence the need for this crowdfunder.
Lastly, I would like to do this in honour of my dad, who died in 2017, who ran a school for many years. From him, I learnt of the importance of a life rich in creativity. I'm sad he never got to see me running some of the workshops which I know he'd have really been keen on, but his spirit remains in the background of my ideas, and I owe a great deal to him.
Thank you so much for your help.