All of a sudden homeschool has become an all too familiar reality, and working from home inevitably comes with the kids intervening for lunch or entertainment (or both).
This sudden shift in lifestyle which involves spending the majority of our time at home, including adapting our work and school environments to our home environment, has undoubtedly been both challenging and revelatory.
We have been discovering many things about ourselves and our fellow family members, as well as a multitude of various other revelatory experiences, but perhaps something that has been a standout for parents working from home, is the large role schools and after-school activities play in theirs and their children’s lives.
It is difficult of course, trying to keep children busy or entertained when they spend their entire time in the same exact environment. Perhaps one of the most effective ways to help keep children occupied, is by introducing them to ways in which they can channel their creativity.
The following three local businesses are well-known for encouraging children’s creative output and expression, whether it be through visual arts or drama. As a result of the current situation we find ourselves in, they have been active in adapting what they do to offer online classes and workshops that children can follow from home.
Ever since 2008, Sitara Theatre has been devising unique experiences in the realm of children’s theatre. This wonderful entity puts together fun children’s shows, which are usually based on well-known fairytales and stories, all with the use of costumes, puppets and masks.
Offering shows mainly in English, with the inclusion of some Arabic, thanks to the lovable staple Sitara character of Osman the Bawab (doorman), the businesses has blossomed into offering arts and crafts and drama workshops, in addition to the performances.
Many a school around Cairo has gone to visit Sitara Theatre for the magical theatrical experience it offers, however, ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, this has not been possible.
In attempts to make the most out of the current situation, Sitara Theatre has started exploring its possibilities online, offering families across Cairo a little bit of Sitara magic from the comfort of home.
The Sitara troupe has creatively adapted a story that goes in line with the way things are now, as they have been releasing a series of online episodes entitled ‘FaceTime Fairytales’, in which a multitude of Sitara characters are FaceTiming and communicating through social media platforms.
To accompany each new episode, the entity also releases a series of workshop-type videos that children can follow at home – from drama and dance routines, to arts and crafts and storytelling. And the cherry on top is that, thus far, they offer all this free of charge.
Helen O’Grady Drama Academy
The Helen O’Grady Drama Academy is a drama school that has branches across Africa. It started operating and offering drama classes for children in Cairo since 2007.
The Drama Academy offers various drama workshops that are specifically designed for each age group, catering to children as young as three years old, all the way to 18-year-olds. In addition to the drama classes they offer, the Drama Academy also offers various arts and crafts and drama winter and summer camps for children.
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, this drama entity also managed to find ways to adapt to the current environment and shift its efforts online.
Keeping their classes as interactive as possible, Helen O’Grady now offers their dynamic drama classes online for discounted fees. In addition to encouraging children of all ages to follow these drama classes at home, they have also been active in trying to find innovative ways to engage with their students through social media.
Most recently, this has been done through encouraging students to re-create well-known photographs or paintings at home.
Rizkallah Art Foundation
Having been founded by artist Adli Rizkallah, the Rizkallah Art Foundation has been very active in offering children visual arts-based classes and workshops.
According to their official Facebook page, “Adli Rizkallah Art for Children offers children from age three to 12 years old the opportunity to have fun, play and learn through art. In our program, children learn values, ethics and skills through a number of entertaining activities including: Story Telling, Drawing, Arts and Crafts, Music, Drama, Origami, and Paper Sculpture.”
And the entity has indeed garnered a large following, thanks to their diverse range of classes that offer children a refreshing output for creative expression.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Rizkallah Art Foundation is another entity that has had to adapt to the situation and find ways to tailor their classes to the online world.
So far, they have successfully managed to offer a variety of art classes online through live video conferences and at discounted prices. They have even been active in showcasing the participating children’s outcomes on their social media pages, through what they call ‘virtual exhibitions’.