As a mum to three boys, I have always valued the importance of a broader curriculum, one that includes the creative arts; giving children opportunities to explore, grow and express their emotions.
My children are now adults. One works in the city and two have followed the creative arts as their chosen professions.
Why am I passionate about creative arts?
I completely appreciate the importance of academic learning, but I also strongly believe that children need to develop as individuals with the creative arts supporting in many ways; with communication and language development and, most importantly, personal, social and emotional behaviour.
Every child should be given the opportunity to flourish and reach their full potential. By engaging with a broader curriculum we can encourage our children to explore alternative experiences.
From personal experience, I know there are challenges in educating our children that we may not have expected. Some of these may be met by understanding that children learn in different ways, some responding better to academic pursuits, others to the creative arts and some to a mixture. By ensuring they have the opportunity to explore all these, we give them the chance to learn in the way that best suits them.
One child I worked with found it very difficult to participate in a group situation. When she began drama lessons, this changed as she slowly became more confident. The pride she felt when performing in an end of year play was reflected by the joy her peer group showed in her progress. The children learned and performed as a team, supporting each other, celebrating their achievements and learning life skills.
How do dance, singing and drama compliment and support academic learning?
Dance, singing and drama allow children to relate to their peers with no language, cultural or special education needs barriers. They help to foster listening, co-ordination and social skills from an early age.
Dance classes encourage the development of physical skills, rhythm, creativity, musicality, co-ordination and listening and social skills. Children learn to interact through imaginative play and mime. Dance and movement patterns also develop kinaesthetic memory, so that muscles remember movements, an essential for normal motor activity and learning.
Singing has many benefits but most importantly is not dependent on language. It encourages a child to express their emotions; it enhances rhythm and creativity. It can be used as a creative tool, a fun way to increase enjoyment and achievement in subjects that some may find challenging. It’s often related to patterns and numbers reinforcing the early building blocks of learning.
In my opinion, drama is one of the strongest learning tools. Children can express them selves freely by using body language and facial expressions. It is often a comfortable place for children who are shy or withdrawn.
Structured and unstructured dramatic play is a powerful method of conflict resolution, encouraging children to consider alternative perspectives and ways to relate to their peers.
How do we measure success?
Success is often measured by academic achievement, which puts pressure on children who find academic subjects challenging.
I don’t advocate that the creative arts replace academic learning, but that the two should go hand in hand. We should never underestimate how valuable both are in helping children to learn life skills and enjoy learning.
Every child has a gift. We should help them to find and use it.
Simone Lautman joined Phoenix BSC in 2015 following a long career in both the state and independent education sector as an Assistant Teacher. She worked with children from Early Years Foundation Stage to Key Stage 2 and has been involved in all aspects of school life.