Outside the Box

Outside the Box

By Tiziana Murgo

At the border of Hackney Downs Park, there is a young and lively hub that might be unknown to most but is very active, energetic and engaging.

In Amhurst Terrace (E8) the community is set physically around a central square as in a little village, and so is the atmosphere. There are numerous artists’ studios, galleries, a yoga place, a restaurant and many small businesses that sometimes open their space during open studios.

At one of these events I happened to encounter a quiet and placid Italian woman named Viviana, owner of the business Outside the Box, a kids’ program based on learning through creativity.

After that first encounter I happily managed to engage my 6-year-old son in a series of after-school activities with Viviana and Yiota, the lovely ladies who run the courses. I must say it has not been hard at all as the son was super enthusiastic after the first trial.

The diary varies every term and current offerings are published on their Facebook page. Every day is dedicated to a different subject: Maths, Greek Mythology, Make Your Own Stop Motion Animation, Welcome to Spain, Philosophy for Children, Make Your Own Graphic Novel and Exploring Artists.

We engaged in the Maths programme and Philosophy for Children and we have been very pleased. Kids love the way subjects are presented to them and they love to be stimulated and induced to use their creativity to solve problems and little dilemmas. Children are led to learning through enquiry and exploration of ideas. They gain the confidence to ask questions and learn through discussion.

Another advantage is that the location is literally in the park, so the kids spend most of the sessions outside.

The classes are suitable for ages 5 to 11 or 7 to 11. Sessions start at 4pm and end at 6:30pm with the possibility to have your children picked up from any of the local schools. A healthy snack is provided, which also changes every day; you will be given the weekly menu as soon as you enrol.

The place gives you a lot of flexibility too; with children, you never know how it will go, so you don’t want to be stuck with something for the whole term—you might want to engage in a four-week program or pay as you go (fees are £20 per session).

For more information, see Outside the Box’s website and its Facebook page.