Who are you? Tell me a bit about yourself.
“Hi, I am Cielja Kieft, and originally from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I am wife to metaphysical teacher Emahmn, mother to two wonderful adult sons and their wives, and grandmother of three young grandchildren who I adore. In fact, they are the reason my husband and I moved to Norman from Las Vegas, but not before spending almost 2 years hanging out and teaching on the dreamy Caribbean beaches of Mexico.
In Amsterdam I was a Theatre Director, Voice Coach, Drama Teacher and Parent and Teacher Trainer. I have incorporated all I taught before, and more, under the Empathic Communication Academy that I started here in Norman. I am also the founder of the group Norman Alternative.”
What is your affinity with the homeschooling community?
“When my youngest son opposed the regular school system strongly, we became part of developing alternative education in The Netherlands. Homeschooling was at that time not allowed.
It was such a relief for my son that we could start unschooling when we came to the USA and we were part of a great homeschooling resource center, where I was teaching. I quickly found The Loop when we arrived in Norman. I continued supporting alternative education families and further developing my passion for communication in understanding what we want to express.
I am now representative for Alternative Education Revolution (Resource) Organization (AERO).”
What classes do you teach at The Loop?
“I offer Pretend Drama for children 5-8yo, Teens and Hats for preteens and teens, and Empathic Communication for adults. I also offer private voice lessons.”
When did you find your passion for helping children express themselves?
“Ever since I had my own children I have been active in schools to give children a say in their education. By listening to them and teaching Parents and Teachers peaceful resolution skills I was more and more convinced how crucial it is for children to express themselves.
As I do promote to walk the talk, I wanted to show parents and teachers how a different communication could help the child taking charge of their own learning and happiness. That we need to use their innate communication blueprint and learning capacity, which is play.”
What was it that triggered that passion?
“Well, this was one of those moments: ‘Here I am, sitting in the classroom of my pre-schooler as a parent-aid for the morning. I feel bored and bullied. I see kids wiggle and being reprimanded for not sitting still. If I already feel this un-easy, what must all these children feel? And I am only a few hours here. I can leave when I want, and this is even the class with one of the nicest teachers…’
That was the start of me pushing for parent and teacher education. At the same time I realized that, as a drama-teacher, I had developed a way of communicating that honored the child’s being. People know that children need to play, but nobody seemed to see what I saw: Children have an innate way of learning the world they live in, and acquire the skills necessary to survive and evolve from an innate need. This they show and develop through play.”
When did you first discover that you loved sharing parenting and communication techniques with others?
“After an upset with my 2 year old, I read Parent Effectiveness Training by Dr. Thomas Gordon. I wondered why every parent didn’t know these things! I was eager to get certified and started teaching the skills to parents, teachers and leaders.
When people tell me already after the first few sessions, sometimes in tears, about amazing breakthroughs they had that week with their child, with their spouse, student or employee, I get goose bumps of joy and relief. I still do, after 27 years of teaching communication skills!”
What do you love most about working with adults?
“Helping them through their pain of not connecting with their child, spouse, family, co-workers and most of all helping them (re)-connect with themselves!
It is really one on one time, even in a group of 12. They can totally be themselves, finally talking about heartfelt things, role-playing, knowing they will get concrete tools to apply straight away when they go back home after class.
I love teaching in groups, as we recognize a lot with each other. In a group it helps to get also on the ‘goofy’ side, to lift up heavy situations. But I work one on one with a person too. Online and off.
What is your favorite thing about teaching your children’s classes?
“Hearing in the closing circle from them how they liked the play, whether they got to do what they wanted, and how they feel at this moment. When they can hardly contain themselves and jump up with ‘super the super’ or something like that. That is my most rewarding moment.”
What do you hope adult students gain from your classes?
“Understanding of themselves on emotional, mental, physical and spiritual level. How they can take responsibility for their own happiness and well-being with actual using empathic communication skills. Understanding of others and that someone else is not against them, but for themselves.”
What about the children?
“Being honored in being themselves, being child. Being seen and heard while their creative mind is working full 100%. An understanding that we can go through a conflict in a way that all have an equal say. As well as the fact that a teacher or adult does not need to be the boss over you, nor over how things are supposed to go, or how you should behave. I hope the children come to understand that teachers can be enthusiastic about the things they want to show and teach, but their best role is being a facilitator in helping students learn what they want to do/know/experience next.”
Your adult class is called Empathic Communication. Are you still teaching parenting classes?
“I merged the parenting class with the Empathic Communication class. It seems to be hard these days for parents to commit to 10 or 12 weeks. So I created 4 Modules that can be purchased and committed to separately:
- The Basics
After each module we can see if there are evolving subgroups, that can then go more specific their route, whether this is parenting, teaching, leadership, health-support, students, network-marketing. This has to do with the objectives of the participants.”
What would you tell someone who was considering joining your Empathic Communication class?
“If you sigh, feel awkward, feel upset or hurt when you think about one of your relationships —whether this is with your child(ren), your spouse, family, neighbor, friend, or work-relations— come to class. You will gain tools and learn what to do. You do not need to stay in the mindset of ‘That’s how it is’.
If you feel all is going fine in your relationships, but also feel things may evolve and get more difficult in the future, come to class. You can think of the teen-years, changing jobs, moving, divorce, etc. Being proactive is the best. Let me know if you are not sure.
If you want to know more about how we communicate on a spiritual level. If you are interested in seeing ‘The bigger picture’ of how we operate as human beings together, come to class!”
What is specific about the class?
“As role-play is involved and the use of the energies of the emotions, the participants get a chance to test out knowledge and insights in how it actually feels and can be done. This way it is not only cognitive learning, but the learning will be on the cellular level as well. They will be able to make lasting changes.”
What about someone who was thinking about your Pretend Drama or Teens & Hats class?
“If your young child is dressing up and full of stories at home, they will love Pretend Drama. But also if you feel your child is somewhat shy, or on the contrary, more ‘bossy’, they will benefit so much from the class, as it is all up to them. They will choose to express themselves and cooperate to make it work.
Regarding the Teens & Hats: If your teen likes drama and improvisation, they will love this class that gives them the chance to give their ideas and opinions from a character they choose according with a hat they have on. As with the Pretend Drama class, the teens will get the benefit of masterminding, creating together, getting conflict resolution skills, besides expressing themselves.”
Want to learn more about Cielja’s classes? Contact her today!