Afterschool project builds a novel approach to homework for Limerick schoolchildren

  • Lego building at the Southill Afterschool Hub (Pic Liam Burke Press 22)
Lego building at the Southill Afterschool Hub. (Pic: Liam Burke/Press 22)

Pupils at an afterschool club in Limerick now have LEGO for homework, funded by Limerick City and County Council’s Regeneration Project. Southill Afterschool has developed a novel approach to homework with their own Lego BRICKX club.

Twelve adult leaders undertook two days training to become LEGO play leaders, which includes learning how to develop LEGO play and LEGO building competitions among staff and children.

Leaders have also learned about activities focused on special needs, including play for children with autism.

The Southill Afterschool Club now has a very large quantity of diverse pieces of LEGO for children aged 5-12 years.

BRICKX clubs help children explore creativity, problem solving and mathematical thinking. Group leaders were also interested in how much co-operative play the children got involved in.

LEGO for play and creativity is a great way to introduce teambuilding to the children with tower building contests where they need to work as a group.

It is also a great way to encourage and develop fine motor skills in the younger children, while the group for smaller children now has new Duplo sets to develop their skills.

Manager of the Southill Afterschool Club Sonya McMahon said: “The LEGO activities are ideal for rainy days when our community hall is at capacity. We were worried the children were relying on screen time as a treat and decided to explore other activities. This club grew out of a STEM programme (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) we started last year with the science of kite flying.”

Kathy Lambkin of BRICKX Club Ireland said: “It is great to see adults and children working together with the same level of interest in building - we were very interested to see that the girls and boys engaged equally.”

Childcare Worker Niamh Galligan said “This has been my favourite training as a childcare worker. I am not artistic so it is nice to have an alternative type of activity to drawing and painting with the children.”

Some of the leaders are undertaking training as part of their community employment schemes and this is an important step in developing employment skills for the childcare sector and as we are the first BRICKX Club in Limerick, it will give them a unique selling point on their CVs.

The initiative was funded as part of a Regeneration social intervention around education and employment.

Maria Donoghue, Programme Manager for the Regeneration project with Limerick City and County Council said: “The BRICKX Club is an ideal example of how regeneration funding can support the local community. It develops people’s skills, which in turn are used to help the youngest groups in the community. Education is a crucial element to improve standards of living and ability to access opportunities. I’m very happy that Regeneration is helping young children as they begin their education journey and those who are older to upskill. And it’s fun!”

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