Encouraging Empathy and Inclusion in the Early Years Working with Persona Dolls at Wavell Community Infant and Nursery School May 1st 2008
What Are Persona Dolls? • They are not puppets! • They are owned by the practitioner, not the child. • Their “personas” are decided upon by the practitioner before they are introduced to the children . • Their feelings and experiences are conveyed through the practitioner.
Our Belief In order to foster a true spirit of inclusion, children have to be taught to empathise.
What do they do? • The dolls visit the children at many different times. During assemblies, circle time, and during PSCHE sessions they tell the children about their happy, and not so happy experiences. The children, in turn, offer advice and discuss amongst themselves, possible solutions to the problems and concerns that the dolls are experiencing.
How did we get started? • We bought the dolls! • We spent a training day creating personas (great fun and hilarity!!) • We introduced them individually and in friendship groups, to the children. • Teachers incorporated sessions into their planning. • We ensure that a record of experiences is kept for each doll, ignore this at your peril! • We gave the dolls a place to “live”.
What are the benefits? • Encourage respect for themselves and others • Help children recognise the rights of others • Develop respect for community diversity, and • Develop a sense of fairness in respect of self and others.
Is it just for the early years? • No! – although you do have to change the way you work with them. • Although we have used the dolls with very young children, older children could be involved in creating and researching personas for the dolls and some secondary drama departments have used these dolls with older children to produce puppet shows on citizenship issues. • One of the very real benefits is that the doll owns the problem/ issue so no child comes out of any activity feeling that the finger has been pointed at them.