Local children's storyteller is in final to be named 'most loved' in south west
Nikita Dixon, leader and creator of Story Sense, is a finalist in the What's On 4 Kids Activities Awards 2020.
|Nikita Dixon with Chris the Crow|
Nikita, who started Story Sense three years ago to encourage children to love reading and build a support network for parents, is a finalist in the 'Most Loved Activity Leader or Business Manager in South West England, West and Wales' category.
"I was passionate about encouraging children to read", said Nikita, "and as a teacher I saw many children dislike reading. I wanted to help parents right from birth to foster a love for stories and books whilst also giving them the chance to socialise and bond with their little babies and toddlers."
I wanted to help parents right from birth to foster a love for stories and books whilst also giving them the chance to socialise and bond with their little babies and toddlers
|Parents and babies enjoying a Story Sense session|
Nikita taught in primary schools for six years, five of those at Buckfastleigh Primary School, mainly focussing on the older children in Years 4-6, but has always had a soft spot for the little ones. Her Story Sense classes now have two age ranges, birth to walking and walking to four.
Story Sense classes all follow the same structure. Nikita leads the group in a story about her six characters - Chris the Crow and Steve the Sheep among others. Each part of the story comes with an age-appropriate activity for the babies and toddlers to take part in. Halfway through there is a break for feeding, changing, chatting and playing, and each session ends with a calming moment, usually with bubbles.
|A look of amazement at the lights and bubbles|
Coming up with a story for each week starts with Nikita choosing which element of the Development Matters document (The British Association for Early Childhood Education - find it here) she wants to focus on and then she comes up with the activities and the story from there. "I try and make the activities ones that can be easily replicated at home", Nikita explains, "so parents can continue the fun. My husband helps a lot with the activities and the story, its is very much a team effort."
I try and make the activities ones that can be easily replicated at home so parents can continue the fun
Nikita has no idea who nominated her for the award, but she sends a "huge thank you" to whoever it was. She continued: "The decision is made based on the number of people who voted for me. I am in the top five for amount of votes within my category, which got me into the final. Now I need to be the top for number of votes to win. It is down to everyone who took the time out to vote."
|Enjoying the light up ropes|
Her family are "really excited" to see her in the final. She said: "Everyone says I deserve to win with all the hard work I put in. The children are too young to understand but I know how much [my son] George loves Story Sense and always wants to help pack the car. He would be proud to see me win."
|Nikita has just over a week to wait to see if she will be crowned the winner|
Nikita will find out at the 2020 awards ceremony, which will be broadcast live online by from 7pm on Thursday, 8 October. She said: "It would be incredible to win. Here comes the soppy bit but I felt like a winner when I found out I was nominated. The fact that someone has not only enjoyed my classes but actually taken the time to nominate me for all the effort I put in is incredible. Then to have everyone vote to get me in the final blew me away.
"I would be speechless to win but to get as far as I have, I couldn’t be prouder to have been voted for in the category."
I would be speechless to win but to get as far as I have, I couldn’t be prouder to have been voted for in the category
Nikita wants to give a shout out to her husband Paul. "Without his support, I would never have started the business and wouldn’t be up for an award", she said. "The nights I have been up until midnight preparing for classes, he's been right there with me, and he is working a full time job too."
She also gave a "huge thank you to everyone that voted for me" and all her family and friends for the "support they give, from providing childcare so I can run the classes, to creating social media content for me to use, to giving words of encouragement".
The awards are sponsored by Morton Michel and the Most Loved Activity Leader or Business Manager in South West England, West and Wales category is sponsored by NatWest. You can find out more about the awards here.
Story Sense runs sessions in Kingsbridge, Totnes and Paignton. You can register your interest for upcoming classes on the website.
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