School By Game/Play – A Therapeutic Program For Children in Czech Republic

This week (7th-13th February) is Children’s Mental Health Week 2022 in the UK. This year’s theme is ‘Growing Together,’ bringing into focus ways in which parents and children can grow alongside one another, whilst also supporting each other’s development.

To celebrate Children’s Mental Health Week 2022, Home-Start Worldwide thought that we would share some valuable stories of how Home-Starts across the globe are putting children’s mental health first in the work that they do.

Among many of the amazing programs on offer at Home-Start Czech Republic, one that is particularly interesting in relation to Children’s Mental Health Week is their therapeutic/educational program, ‘School By Game/Play.’ This program uses Montessori pedagogical methods and is designed for struggling parents who may lack confidence in their parenting skills. Simultaneously, it has undeniable benefits for the children’s mental well-being.

Here is a statement from the Director, Alzbeta Candia Munoz:

TEP “School by Game/Play ” is a program for parents with small children who are insecure in raising their children and need loving guidance in a safe environment. We find that parents lack positive role models in raising a child. As adults, they have little opportunity to supplement these missing experiences. We have therefore created a safe environment where, within the therapeutic and educational program, they can try, experience and actually supplement these experiences and competencies in a non-violent and entertaining way. Throughout the work, the emphasis is on the child and their needs.

We use the basic elements of Montessori pedagogy in working with the family; peace, order, silence, order. The main premise of our work is that it is only possible to work with a child under the condition of parallel work with their parents. The program also has a therapeutic effect on the parents present. We try to support the strengths of individual parents, we help them work constructively on what is not working. Sharing their difficulties together helps parents with feelings of guilt and helplessness, whilst sharing mutual experiences help to solve problems constructively.

The opportunity to play is often an opportunity for adult participants to discover or connect with the child “within themselves” which helps to build both their understanding and relationships with their offspring. Children who attend the school use the Montessori method, which helps children learn to work independently, concentrate on their own activities, and wait and not disturb other children in their independent activities. At the same time, we are constantly trying to prolong joint activities such as exercises, art activities, and lunchtime. The main task is to teach children to persevere in one activity, to wait, not to resolve conflicts by force, to manage their effect, to control their needs, and to respect others.