– Alana Schober, Founder and Owner of Sparx Studio
When I taught kids in the classroom with the set out curriculum, I found myself more drawn to teaching them lessons about social skills, health, and overall mental wellbeing. I strongly felt that these concepts were not taught enough in the everyday curriculum and that schools are focussed too much on academics. I think society and the education system needs to support kids to be empowered and healthy in addition to knowing what the square root of a number is.
Growing up, I always had a huge passion for acting AND taking care of children. When I was in Grade 3, I remember deciding I wanted to become a teacher when I grew up! After exploring both the teaching and acting world (yes at certain points I took on both as solo careers!), I somehow ended up creating Sparx Studio which combined my two passions. This was very exciting to me and I knew that I wanted to pass along to others, the confidence and mental strength that I found from teaching and acting. – Alana Schober
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: We love what we’ve learned so far about your program. It’s so unique and offers kids so much opportunity to explore their feelings in a safe environment. Can you explain further.
ALANA: Thanks! Our main motivation for our studio is to always be up-to-date with children’s social and emotional issues. We encourage and mentor children to be the best that they can be, and we want them to feel inspired after leaving our courses. Themes that we teach include very common scenarios kids may find themselves in, such as being bullied, feeling anxious, and even dealing with strangers.
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: All of these themes are very much needed. Can you tell us about your decision to include Covid lessons in all your upcoming programs – that’s amazing by the way!
ALANA: Absolutely. Since we already teach kids about everyday life scenarios, we thought, why wouldn’t we include the largest ‘scenario’ that is happening right now which is COVID!
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Love that you use everyday scenarios and issues and help kids get into character and act these out where kids can problem solve in a safe environment, including Covid. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to release and better understand their feelings.
ALANA: We aim to teach and show children that they are not alone and this also applies to dealing with the pandemic. It’s the first time for all of us to deal with something like this and we want to offer beneficial advice and tips for how to adapt to living with it. It is hard on everyone, and we are happy to show the kids that there is support out there for them. Not to mention, our courses encourage kids to develop their social-emotional skills. For all these reasons, we are happy to be including this additional theme in all of our programs.
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Can you give us an example of what some of these lessons will look like?
ALANA: All of our lessons offer the opportunity for children to be as actively involved as possible, both physically and mentally. Our COVID lessons will include:
1. Acting out a COVID scenario where the children will use critical thinking skills for how to best navigate the situation (i.e. if they have a family member sick at home, what can they do to help, or if they have to cough or sneeze and they are at school, etc). They will have the chance to do these independently, in pairs, and in groups.
2. Students will also be presented with multiple COVID Yes, Maybe, or No situations and facts.
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: Sounds interesting. What will this look like?
ALANA: For our virtual class, we show them presentation slide visuals. The children will use play-based learning to select what they think they see is the correct, maybe/sometimes or incorrect thing to do! After all the kids choose, a group discussion will take place, and various points of views can be presented. We also compare the COVID answers to what the answers would be given a non-pandemic world. (For instance, shaking hands used to be polite!) Instructors will open the floor to the kids in each class, and ask how they are feeling in regards to the pandemic. We find it changes week-to-week, and often find that students have something they want advice on or feel strongly about. The kids then act out possible solutions and we discuss. (It can be very therapeutic!)
KiDS NEWS & REVIEWS: How will these lessons protect the child’s mental and physical health?
ALANA: We always inform the kids that Sparx is a safe, comfortable, and open space for them. We encourage the kids to share their feelings and embrace their unique qualities. All the while, we are also teaching them ways to be courageous. In fact, one of our class themes is called the ‘Courage List’. This is where we teach the kids 7 tips to help ease anxiety and feelings of being nervous! We have found that by structuring our lessons similar to what you’d find in a classroom-like setting, the kids tend to feel more comfortable and supported.
Every class day offers a new social or emotional lesson that helps promote a healthy mental mind and physicality. Only some kids get bullied and only some kids have intense anxiety, but with our COVID lessons, it is literally happening right NOW and it is happening to every single one of them. Addressing and accepting that we must adapt to this new reality is really important for kids to understand and that alone will help eliminate internal frustrations and confusions in their feelings towards it.Alana Schober, Founder & Owner of Sparx Studio
KiDS NEWS & REViEWS: This all sounds amazing – thanks so much for sharing your story with us and your video that you created to visually show us what this looks like. Any final thoughts you’d like to share.
ALANA: Yes, I’d love to close with some quotes from our parents.
”We love Sparx Studio! My daughter has participated in two in person camps as well as a virtual one. Each session had a different instructor all of which were wonderful with the kids (I was amazed they were kept entertained virtually!) I love the important lessons that are being taught in a fun manner. More importantly it is the only camp where she has leapt out of the car so eager to start her day and left the camp begging to be signed up for the next session. 🙂 “Parent
“Sparx taught my 7 year old daughter how how to manage bullying, how to collaborate with a group of children to create a play, and also gave her the confidence to act on stage! She was never bored, and she came out of Sparx with so many valuable skills that I signed her up for several weeks over the summer. It was a really great experience, the staff were kind and understanding. How they got a group of little ones to memorize lines and perform in 5 days is beyond me!!!!”Parent
“Sparx is a wonderful program. Our daughter loves going, and always has fun! Sparx is clearly doing more than just showing the children a good time, they are helping our children to develop positive values and self confidence. Our five year old daughter has come home from various classes discussing (amongst other themes) – kindness to other children, and “not going with strangers”. It’s quite funny to hear these jewels of wisdom from her little mouth. The instructors truly care about understanding each child, and helping them to develop socially, and emotionally. Our kiddo is reserved by nature, and it has been wonderful to see her happily perform in the “Sparx Showcase” that comes at the end of the week. We are delighted by these performances as well! Where else can you see a magic cow drink chocolate milk with Cinderella?!Parent
“” Between engaging virtual programming and excellent and imaginative summer camps, my children have greatly benefited from attending Sparx camps. Aside from fostering creativity, Sparx offers great interpersonal skill-building for kids. We are happy to have access to such high-caliber local children’s programming. “Parent