Monday, 30 March 2015

Magic does the trick for classroom confidence

Few people, including adults, can perform magic. Any child who learns how has a rare skill – they can do something amazing that their peers cannot.

Award-winning trainer and close-up magician Robert Newgrosh realised what a boost this can be for some children psychologically. In 2008, he established Magic Skills for Schools, a high-quality developmental programme for children in Years 4, 5 and 6. The underlying concept at the heart of the programme is simple – learning how to do magic increases a child’s self-belief. When a child learns how to do something amazing and unusual, it has the potential to change their whole outlook!



Does it work?
Since inception, hundreds of children from 18 schools across the North-West have taken part. Evelyn Community Primary School in Prescot, judged Outstanding by Ofsted on three occasions, has run the programme seven times.

Evelyn's headteacher, Carole Arnold, said: “Robert worked in our school with groups of children from each key stage class. Not only did the children thoroughly enjoy the sessions, but their confidence and communication skills were much improved.

“Children were selected from those highlighted in the PASS survey (Pupils Attitude to Self and School) as moderate to high risk. Several children came out with a lower risk when retested after the sessions, and the others were more self-confident as witnessed by the class teacher.”

Aside from the boost in confidence and self-esteem, the programme also helps to develop other skills such as manual dexterity, co-ordination, memory, presentation, reasoning, numeracy and verbal skills.

Carole Arnold adds: “The experience enabled rich learning to take place, such as problem solving and development of concentration, in an imaginative and stimulating way.’

How does it work?
All the tricks in the programme are very high calibre – easy enough for a child to learn but good enough to entertain and amaze family and friends. This is often a big surprise to adults who make the assumption that a child would not be able to fool them. Based on professional card magic, the methods and secrets taught ensure the children can perform confidently, knowing they won't be caught out.

At the end of the programme, the children perform a show for classmates and parents, further boosting their confidence and self-esteem. This provides a tangible end-result, plus a real sense of achievement. As well as performing great magic in the show, the children also demonstrate professional-looking card displays. This often produces audible gasps from the audience, which is further confirmation for a child that they really do have an amazing new talent which few people possess.

Another headteacher commented: "All the children who took part gained a great deal from the experience. It has increased their self-confidence and instilled in them a ‘can-do’ attitude. 

“At the end of the four sessions, the children were able to take part in a performance to classmates and family in a wonderful exhibition of skills, flair and confidence. I was very impressed by the standard the children were able to achieve in such a short time. 

“The feedback from staff and family has been positive, and I would highly recommend the programme to any school wishing to develop children's self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as numeracy, memory and concentration skills. We will be holding these sessions again in the future. In fact, we have a waiting list for them!" 

Could magic do the trick for your pupils?
Magic Skills For Schools delivers high impact in just a few weeks, and the cost per pupil is classified as ‘very low’ by the Education Endowment Foundation. Outcomes are well-matched to the government's concept of a ‘targeted enrichment activity’ making the programme ideal for Pupil Premium investment. Children are highly motivated to participate, and really enjoy taking part.

The company also offers a Magic Day format, which is for a whole class rather than selected children. Here the emphasis is on reasoning, lateral thinking and fun. This makes a great reward or treat, and since the tricks are different to the developmental programme, it doesn't matter if a child has already participated.

For further details, please call Robert on 0161 428 1069 or email new.skills@ntlworld.com.

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