Persona Dolls is a tuition method which helps teachers talk with children about topics that are difficult to explain. They teach children how to react to prejudices; they support empathy and develop expression competences. The Persona Dolls method makes it easier to cover the cross-cutting themes and key competences of the Framework Educational Programme.
The dolls are brought into the classroom and, through the teacher, they share their life story and encourage children to share theirs with them. The dolls have certain characteristics which could lead to discrimination in society (a different mother tongue, health disabilities, a different type of family or poverty). They function as go-betweens between the teachers and the children and between the children themselves; they teach children talk about themselves and defend themselves when someone makes fun of them due to their appearance, origin or economic situation of their family.
What children learn thanks to the doll
Persona Dolls help develop mutual empathy and solidarity in children. Thanks to the persona dolls, children learn to identify their feelings and express their ideas, reinforcing their self-respect and positive self concept. The method of working with dolls also augments children’s skill at leading a dialogue, be responsible and behave in the spirit of fair play.
Working with a Persona Doll is based on the conscious work with prejudices approach. The aim of this tuition method is:
- to reinforce children’s confidence from the point of view of their identities and relationship groups
- to allow children experience variety
- to provoke critical thinking towards prejudices, bias and discrimination
- to support children in standing against prejudices and discrimination
Course on working with the Persona Dolls tuition method
We offer a 9-day (72 hours) educational course to educators from nursery schools, pre-school clubs, first-level primary school teachers and external educators. The course gradually acquaints the participants with the method and the conscious work with prejudices approach. They create a Persona Doll according to the needs of the group of children they work with. Compulsory in-class experience and subsequent feedback are component to the course. Practical, theoretical and self-experience activities alternate during the course, focused on ideas of normality and reflecting on how we talk with children.
In 2015, we published Persona Dolls, dolls with personalities – how to develop pro-social attitudes in children. It addresses the starting points and targets of the methods, the principles of working with a Persona Doll and also model activities for approaching separate topics.
The Varianty programme has been dealing with the Persona Dolls method since 2012. To date we have trained 104 teachers from all parts of the Czech Republic in using this method.