By Matt Lloyd, Regional Manager for the South West
The world’s favourite family: the Simpsons. We can all accept that when we look at their antics in Springfield, we see many behaviours that resonate in us…The cheeky rule bending of Bart, the disapproving but loving nature of Marge, the restrained ability of Lisa and, of course, the well- meaning stupidity of Homer. But what if the Simpson family had an opportunity to take part in a Family FUNS programme at Springfield Elementary? Would things be different?
The Family FUNS Friday club at Springfield Elementary was an exciting new programme provided for local families as a positive experience in school for the whole family. The club was initially to help Maggie start First Grade, but the whole family were invited to join Family FUNS Friday led by a Teaching Assistant who had recently trained with Create Development.
The Simpson family were apprehensive at best prior to the first session; Marge had to pursuade Bart to come, and Homer had to make sure that he left the Springfield Nuclear Plant on time to make the session at the school and not go via Moe’s Bar.
The sessions were amazing and engaged the whole family; the impact after the 12 weeks was quite remarkable.
Maggie (The baby of the family) The Family FUNS programme was aimed at helping her to develop her Fundamental Movement Skills and encourage her to share and take turns, as well as improve her stickability to tasks. It seems that at home she had become rather self-centred and quite often distracted. After just eight weeks, Marge commented that she was much more coordinated and agile around the house and at play. Much less falling over and much less in need of the dummy as she could focus and concentrate without it! Quite remarkably though, one of the biggest successes for Maggie was that she was not only able to take turns more, but encouraged the others in the family when they played.
Bart – It could be argued that Bart needed Family FUNS more than anyone. He was an industrious lad when it suited him, but selfish to the end. ‘Family FUNS Friday’ helped Bart not only with his ABCs and to get that ‘trick nailed on the skateboard’ but he too became much better at helping and encouraging others around him. He loved Family FUNS as it was all about playing and taking on the role of someone else. As a real extrovert he loved being a pirate and actually helped engage the adults in being pirates too! Marge commented that she overheard Bart praise and celebrate his friends rather than calling them ‘dork us’. Most remarkably, he encouraged Rod and Todd Flanders next door to play rather than picking on them and now the Flanders are attending the Family FUNS Friday too!
Lisa – Lisa was initially excited about the Family FUNS Friday but on arrival became quite despondent, as she wanted to do her own thing in the corner- why couldn’t she just play her saxophone? However, when she realised (being quite intelligent and astute) that Family FUNS Friday was more than just playing games and that the whole family would join in and enjoy it she soon got on board. Although never really taking on the role of the pirate or Caspar the cat, she thrived on helping Maggie and some of the little ones. By the end she became a wonderful Family FUNS leader, arriving early to help set up.
Marge – Ever the home-maker, Marge always thought and considered her role to mother, protect and provide for her family. Playing games was simply a distraction to the things that needed doing around the house. Actually, in one of the early sessions she confessed that when it came to ‘play’, she never really had the confidence to play with the children and felt happiest doing things she needed to do with them – cooking etc. The Family FUNS Friday helped Marge do just that and she found it was much more fun. She was filled with confidence and loads of new ideas, games and challenges that she could play with the children and, in particular, do things that meant she could turn off the infernal TV and get the children playing beautifully with each other.
Homer – The Simpsons’ fourth child Homer was quite verbal about his dislike at being at the Family FUNS Friday instead of Moe’s after a long week snoozing in front of the computer at the plant. He complained that he was too tired to take part. However, when he realised that no one was forcing him and he could join in as and when he was ready he began to enjoy being a pirate on his own terms and, when reminded to, he was happy to celebrate successes with his family. He really came to life in Week 4 when the Family FUNS Board Game was introduced. At first he was over-competitive despite Marge’s best efforts to keep him calm and then he soon realised that the Family FUNS Board Game was not about winning, but instead was about challenging yourself. It soon became a bit of an obsession and he would take the ‘T,T,T’ challenge card to work with him and challenge his workmates!
The family have undergone some remarkable changes over the 12 weeks of Family FUNS Friday. They now enjoy playing with each other for starters. However, what is most notable is that they understand that by playing more together they are nicer to each other and life’s more fun. Even Principal has noticed the difference!