SAIIER 2019:Teachers' Center - Neuro-Dramatic Play

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SAIIER 2018-19
Neuro-Dramatic Play, a 5-day certificated course
A project of the Teachers' Center

by Marion

This was a course to increase the skill set of teachers and therapists dealing with children who have learning, behavioural or socio/emotional difficulties.

Dr. Sue Jennings, dramatherapist and founder of the Neuro-Dramatic Play (NDP) movement, came to Auroville in October/November 2018 to run a 5-day course in NDP.

“Neuro-Dramatic-Play is the attachment based play that occurs six months before and after birth. It is characterized by sensory and messy play, rhythmic and dramatic play. It is the basis for an infant developing healthy attachments, the capacity for empathy, and social resilience in the real world of contrasting roles and relationships.
         Many children and teenagers have missed out on these play-stages and have difficulties managing their feelings and behaviour in the school room or social world. The application of NDP in the schoolroom or communal based groups, with age-appropriate activities has shown improvements in behaviour management, anger reduction, and increased collaboration and cooperation. It is important to ‘follow the child’.
         It is important for teachers and therapists alike to have a basic knowledge of neuroscience in order to understand the importance of ‘nurture’ on brain function and to be able to impart this to parents too.  I teach simple brain function to children.” – Dr. Sue Jennings

The course took place at the Unity Pavilion. Twenty-four Auroville teachers, therapists and facilitators dealing with children took part in the course. There was 100% attendance and punctuality.

The main delivery was in the morning, and in the afternoon 12 children from Nandanam kindergarten joined for practical application and exploration of the NDP programmes and activities.

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Some feedback from participants:

“The way the NDP course was designed and the rich content of the course itself, contributed to creating a very deep and enriching experience for me. The workshop was very relevant both to therapists and facilitators and it was very revealing for me to see it from both angles.
         The workshop helped me make sense of my own childhood and give words to certain experiences, as I had never done before. It also helped me fill up gaps in my understanding of early childhood development.”

“I learnt how much attachment is important for children. How improper, or missing attachment impacts a child and can cause life-long trauma and maladjusted behaviour.
         I learnt the importance of free play and creative play.”

“I felt guided and coached and walked out with excellent practical tools for learners of all ages. As this was the foundational course, I am looking forward to advancing with the knowledge. It feels quite aligned with how we aspire teach and learn, here in Auroville.”

“This course opened my eyes to how to care for the children and observe their ability to achieve what they want. It is amazing for me to follow the child with patience to know their skills.
         I was reminded of my young age when I learnt many stories through my aunt and my parents. Today because of materialization we are all away from the joint family and living in the single family which can struggle with many issues. I am interested to continue with the NDP team to carry this knowledge to the population.”

“For me the NDP training was a real and unique opportunity to put myself ('the educator') into the shoes of the children and feel what it's like to listen to stories, create and play together. Initially, and on the surface, it felt like child's play but very quickly I realised that every exercise we did had a deeper meaning which had repercussions at deeper levels of my being. I had several vivid dreams at night and realised that such therapeutic play was taking deeper effect even in my adult world.”

Participants in the course wanted to follow up the work and to this end there have been meetings once a month of what has become the ‘AuroNDP’ group. Meetings take place in the Tibetan Pavilion and are led by different participants each session, exploring and extending the themes of NDP while sharing experiences and applications in schools and workplaces.

Many participants took this work into schools and other facilities where it is developing and becoming part of the participants' skill set.


This course added another dimension to the way that participants view the concept of play and storytelling by linking to their own experiences and early experiences.

Dr. Sue Jennings reflects: “I think the hardest part of the course was to be able to ‘follow the child’ as many participants were used to more directive styles of learning.  However they soon saw results when they allowed the child to take the lead! There were many creative art and craft skills in the group and there was a good atmosphere of collaboration and skill sharing. I suggested that the adults in the group could ‘role-model’ sharing and caring as an example to the children. Overall it was a very successful course, both for the adult participants and the children.”


In my capacity as Teacher Trainer and School Support I have seen and also heard reports of the way in which NDP training has influenced teachers and therapists. Although this course stood alone it was, in fact, the first part of a two-part course leading to a qualification in NDP with some added coursework and child study. Dr. Jennings has been invited back and will be funded by the Foundation for World Education to run the second part of this course, which also stands alone for new participants, in October 2019.

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