Because of the puppet, I know again why I love to work with children, and I have an instrument with which I can actively shape what I want to give to a child.Helen Meurs
I am Helen Meurs, and I am a passionate hand puppet coach. I work with the hand puppet as an educational tool. The puppet as an educational tool is a different puppet than the one that plays a role in a puppetshow, which gives a performance or demonstrate a trick. It is not about the hand puppet as a thing or an act. I love puppets, but am not a puppeteer and approach the hand puppet from its ability to connect with children. The puppet does this differently than you as an adult, and that makes you see something different about the child as you see yourself.
I started working with puppets because I want to help children express themselves, I want to give them words and phrases with which they can tell me how they feel and what they need from me. I want to help them grow and become stronger. As a child, I often felt lonely and didn’t really know how to stand up for myself. I was born with a wine stain, was often in the hospital and often did not know what was happening to me. I became an adjuster, someone who put on a mask and could smile on command. What I really wanted or felt that I pushed aside.
After a few different studies and a few years working as a group leader in disability care, I decided at age 24 to become a teacher. I wanted to make a difference for children who felt as I had felt. I wanted to help them express themselves and tell what is going on inside them.
At Pabo, I was first introduced to the hand puppet phenomenon. For one of my electives, textile arts, I had to make a costume and I designed a little clown costume. Since it was a shame not to use it, I modeled a clay head on it, and thus my first hand puppet Doki was a reality. Doki would become a part of a class series, but never disappeared after his introduction. Doki became the beginning of the greatest adventure I could imagine as an educator. Through Doki, I discovered the power of the hand puppet.
A hand puppet allows me to connect with children on a deep level. It allows me to enter their world, understand their thoughts and feelings, and support them in developing skills that enable them to be confident and resilient.
The hand puppet has proven to be an incredibly powerful tool for me. It allows me to be a helping witness for children, supporting them and teaching them skills that will help them sustain themselves. It is fascinating to watch children blossom and dare to express themselves in the presence of a hand puppet.
Later when I grow up, I can be anything I want to be
I firmly believe that any parent, grandparent or professional working with children between the ages of 2 and 8 (as well as older) should consider using a hand puppet. It really makes a big difference. With a hand puppet, the possibilities are literally in your hands.
So, the pedagogical puppet is a puppet that does not educate, but collects information that I can use to help, and better guide children.
I was an elementary school teacher until 2007 and then, after several burnouts, became an entrepreneur. By now I knew a fair bit about trauma healing and social-emotional development and was sure there was a path there for me and my work with the hand puppet.
Above all, learning must be fun and sparkling; there must be a reason why children want to participate in your activity. And so that’s up to you.Helen Meurs
I became an entrepreneur, founder and owner of handpop.nl in 2004 and pioneered with a hand puppet. I put together a fantastic collection of hand puppets and sold them between 2004 and 2019 in my webshop handpoppen.nl. I also gave workshops and ran an advice center where I helped parents and professionals connect more with children through a hand puppet and challenge them to language, participation, pushing a boundary, learning a skill, the (fill in the blank). I was learning, and pretty soon I wasn’t limited to just teaching. I also helped childcare professionals, social workers, educators, parents, and others who wanted to use a hand puppet within their work with children. I wrote articles for several trade magazines, self-published 2 books, produced an instructional DVD, wrote hundreds of blogs and recorded over 600 videos. In 2019, I sold the webshop to focus on developing my vision, which by now had become a real methodology. Out of that came the vocational training to become a hand puppet coach.
The hand puppet has enriched my life, as a teacher and educator, but also certainly as a human being
I work primarily online and am now based in beautiful Bonaire (Caribbean Netherlands). My offerings are recognized by the Crkbo, which means that my trainings fall under short vocational education.
I would love to work with you and let you experience how hand puppets can contribute to the growth and development of (your) children. If you would like to know more or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com. Together we can discover how hand puppets can be a valuable addition in your interaction with children.
I look forward to hearing from you and working together to build a better future for children!
In a nutshell:
- I am an elementary school teacher
- Was the founder and owner of handpop.nl (an advice centre and hand puppet webshop in the Netherlands) between 2004-2019
- Writer of articles in various professional journals (see articles on this site)
- Wrote the book “JaNee Has Everything”
- Wrote the book“The Hand Puppet as an Educational Tool,” translated as“The Hand Puppet As An Educational Tool.”
- Produced the DVD “JaNee babbelt”
- Wrote more than 500 blogs
- Recorded over 600 videos and have 2 YouTube channels
- Developed the “chitchat method”
- Developed the professional training program to become a hand puppet coach
- Live on Bonaire and work mostly online
Great things never came from comfort zones
Do you want to know more? Feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org