in Europe

Monitoring the development of children's skills


December 12-13 2011, Tirana, Albania: A training workshop for about 15 MOVE trainers and Terre des hommes staff was convened at a picturesque location on the Dajti Mountain, facilitated by Stephanie Delaney, Tdh Consultant on Child Protection and Gaël Rennesson, MOVE Regional Project Coordinator.
One of the objectives of the workshop was to familiarise the participants with new tools to monitor the development of children’s skills and those of the animators who conduct psychosocial activities with them. These tools are part of the new manual on the work with children and their community that Tdh has compiled recently. Through an interactive approach, the participants had the opportunity to discuss and comment on the usefulness and practicality of these instruments, designed to monitor the progress of children and animators. Commenting on the usefulness of these tools, Blerta Mano, Tdh Psychosocial Adviser from Elbasan, says that these instruments serve to follow-up on the “four fields of animators’ competences for the development of psychosocial skills in children.”
Another objective of the meeting was to refresh and expand the understanding on the concept of “child participation” – one of the basic child rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – and to brainstorm on the best ways to intensify the practice of this right in activities with children. Reflecting on the usefulness of the theoretical views and practical aspects of this session, the participants remarked that it helped them “make a better distinction between the concepts of child participation and involvement”, “see how to make children more participative during the organization phase of the activities”, think on “empowering children through involvement at different levels of planning and organizing”, and remember ultimately that “it helps to increase self-confidence and self-esteem” in children. Among these reflections predominated the awareness to wilfully apply this principle in the upcoming activities and events with children, by soliciting their ideas and wishes during the decision-making process.
Prior to these sessions, new traditional psychosocial games were played as well during the first day, so that the participants could learn new games and reflect on their usefulness to child psychosocial development and protection factors to be addressed during the feedback part with children in the end of the game. This feedback on the protection factors is an added value that is intended to become more systematised by the animators in their regular activities with children, to serve as key information for the referral of cases to the appropriate professionals and structures. Two important moments of the day were also the active reflection on personal patterns of behaviour when managing the work and when dealing with conflicts, putting the participants in a higher awareness state of how to approach work and conflicts in a balanced manner.
The first part of the second day of the workshop was energised by psychosocial games and followed with feedback to the teams of animators who facilitated them, and with feedback to the teams of trainers who had facilitated those feedback sessions. Thus, feedback being the keyword, a significant portion of this part of the day was dedicated to reflection on helpful and not-so-helpful feedback, which may serve to either hinder or promote self-knowledge and development. Discussions and reflections on “defence mechanisms”_as well as the practical applications of the _“Johari window” theory, helped the participants get a deeper understanding of traps to avoid and positive attitudes when giving and receiving feedback. Commenting on the usefulness of the feedback session, Juni Plaku, Tdh Training Coordinator says: “The presented models helped me reflect more on the feedback process, my strong and weak points that need improvement.” Echoing the role feedback plays in enhancing self-knowledge, Etleva Thimo, Tdh Regional Project Coordinator for Korça, says: “It is useful, as it helps you see and hear what you have not noticed about yourself.”
Based on the previous sessions and reflections of the participants, the workshop was closed with the sharing of, and consultation on, a national draft-plan of action that the MOVE team, its trainers, animators, partners and Tdh support staff will be committed to implement until the end of June 2012. (EP)