Adam Zargar and Linda Chaccour believe that they’ve found the magic formula. Children ages 7 to 13 can sign up for the day experience with Kids Apprentice, the brainchild of the pair, which means real life “work experience” with tasks to be completed as part of a team. Zargar and Chaccour are present throughout, coaching the children on the spot in a boardroom-like environment and encouraging their creativity and ideas. There are presentations to be made, winners to be chosen and prizes to be won, but ultimately, the day will leave each child with inspired creativity and newly acquired leadership and life skills – all invaluable for the future.
“We just try to make it as fun as possible,” says Zargar, 33, a youth and adult empowerment coach from the UK and the head of empowerment coaching at 2b Limitless.
“We give these kids a real-life experience as much as we can – they will be evaluated, their work judged, they have deadlines to deal with, an end product to produce – but they’re learning the entire time without even realising it because they’re having such a good time.”
The first Dubai Kids Apprentice workshop was held in October. Twenty-one children ranging in age from 8 to 13 were divided into four teams; each team had two long tasks and one short one to complete and present: a design-and-marketing task, a building task and an advertising task. The tasks required brainstorming of ideas, before each team settled on an idea and worked on presenting it.
“It was amazing watching the kids interacting with one another, and seeing the creativity and imagination behind their ideas; their own parents couldn’t believe their kids produced such work,” says Chaccour, 38, a certified youth, parent and family coach from Lebanon and the founder of Emerge Personal and Youth Coaching in Dubai.
“It gives kids a different dimension to their thinking and gets them to interact outside of their comfort zone and try something new, with new people, in a new environment that’s not in school,” she says.
Though schools may be very strong academically, few have programmes that work on leadership skills, bonding, teamwork, critical thinking and creativity. There are prizes for best team, best idea, best individual and so on.
“You see their creativity blossom and how their ideas grow; they all get the same task, but they come up with such different ideas and results and they learn to work together and learn about the dynamics of a team,” said Chaccour.
One challenge that the children were tasked with was to design a hotel. Ideas ranged from a chocolate pool on the hotel’s grounds and slides instead of elevators to access the different floors, to bathrooms that are 100 per cent germfree, virtual fitness centres that allow you to work out simply by wearing a pair of glasses instead of actually sweating and a glow-in-the-dark suite.
The future plan for the coaching duo is to tailor Kids Apprentice as a theme for birthday parties, to create an Arab edition (it’s all currently held in English) and to tailor the concept for schools, so that children’s extra-curricular activities can go beyond the likes of tennis, swimming, basketball and dance.
“For parents, this is a chance to give their kids something valuable,” said Chaccour. “Instead of a self-esteem class or an anti-bullying workshop, teach them teamwork and respect and raise their confidence and give each child a chance.”
• Kids Apprentice is open to kids ages 7 to 13
• The fee is Dh350 to sign up and includes a half-hour children’s yoga class at the end of the day
• Fruit and drinks will be provided, but children are encouraged to bring their own lunch
• The next Dubai Kids Apprentice will be held at the Cascade Learning Centre (cascadelearning.ae) on December 13 from 9.30am to 4pm, then the last Friday of every month, starting from January 31
• The Abu Dhabi Kids Apprentice will begin on February 14, 2014, and will be held on the second Friday of every month. The venue is yet to be decided
• Visit www.kids-apprentice.com to register your child for the next Kids Apprentice day or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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