Arts for Kosair Kids – CTC at Heuser Hearing and Language
Commonwealth Theatre Center has been proud to partner with Heuser Hearing and Language Academy to bring two early childhood programs to the remarkable, energetic kids they serve. This two-part commitment, part of Arts for Kosair Kids® and made possible thanks to generous support from Kosair Charities in association with the Fund for the Arts, transports kids aged 3-6 years old—many of whom have hearing, speech, and language delays—to the world of pretend in the company of CTC’s Blue Apple Outreach teaching artists.
The project launched in fall of 2017 with Jack and the Beanstalk and picked up again in spring of this year with The Three Pigs. Both of these programs are multi-session process drama residencies in which kids spend a total of 5 hours participating in pretend play that builds a story around activities. Students practice listening, act out story elements, make problem-solving suggestions for obstacles in the story, recognize and express emotions, and much more.
Of course, a lot of language learning happens throughout the residencies, and along with incorporating vocabulary pictures (nouns, verbs, ideas) to support word acquisition, the sessions containing kids still new to speech included sign language to help strengthen concepts.
Here are two stories from CTC Teaching Artists that capture the impact programs like Jack and the Beanstalk have on the lives of young people:
That’s a Win!
At Heuser Hearing Academy, some children are new to speaking (and may also be new to hearing). Several children said their names in front of others for the very first time during our name game ritual at the beginning of our sessions. We could see that the teachers were very excited for them. Currently there is one girl who still doesn’t speak in our sessions even though she focuses on us with her eyes. During one of the final sessions of Jack & the Beanstalk, one of our Teaching Artist called her name and said good-bye to her. The girl turned in response and initiated a hug with the Teaching Artist. The classroom teacher observing this hug said, “That’s a win!” A simple hug from her is an assessment that she is building social bonds and has an appreciation for the residency.
Over the Beanstalk
One girl has been a present non-participant. She is non-verbal. She has sat with us at all sessions but doesn’t usually focus on us with her eyes, doesn’t seem to respond physically, and doesn’t usually follow us when we move about the room. Her participation has been dependent on her teachers. Halfway through the residency, we were climbing the beanstalk, and this girl followed us over to the imaginary beanstalk and was making climbing movements—demonstrating comprehension. In later sessions, she began to sign her name during the name game – showing evidence that she understands the game/question. Most recently, she tapped someone on the shoulder when it was their turn during the name game, demonstrating a larger awareness of the game, the students in the room, and how to follow along.
CTC’s early childhood programs have a long history of building language readiness for preschool children, and the organization is so proud of the achievements of the young people at Heuser Hearing and Language Academy for joining us on these adventures.