Over the past few weeks, I am sure you have been hearing the familiar Nativity songs, sang either in the car or at the table during the family meal. For me, I have been listening to singing drifting down the corridor from Mr Moulton and his band of children, preparing for the Nativities or rehearsing for the Year 2 play. Our parents have prepped the costumes that are now hanging, pride of place in the classrooms, and I have a feeling that the children are itching to wear them! Whilst it is a very busy time of year in a child’s life, Christmas provides endless opportunities for our children to take to the stage and perform.
Giving our children the opportunity to perform and take part in drama activities is an essential part of learning at School. Increasingly, the power of drama is being recognised as one of the most effective ways to develop soft skills and emotional intelligence in children. Drama promotes communication skills, teamwork, dialogue, negotiation and socialisation. It stimulates the imagination and creativity; it develops a better understanding of human behaviour and empathy with situations that might seem distant. Drama allows the development of critical thinking and helps children make better and more conscious decisions; it encourages children to use their bodies and voices.
Learning new songs and lines for a performance contribute to a child’s developing vocabulary. We encourage our children to express themselves both verbally, using different voices and tones, and through facial expressions and body language; both of which are key to making them better and more effective communicators in life. In every rehearsal, the children are encouraged to listen to each other’s ideas and thoughts, taking turns. When children are strongly focused and concentrating, their overall understanding increases.
Performance opportunities also give our children the chance to act out a range of emotions in a safe and supportive environment, allowing them to understand their own emotions better and develop empathy for others. Through drama, our children explore the concepts of challenging characters and conflict; learning how to express themselves through dialogue and sometimes, improvisation.
But let’s not forget the simple need for our children to have fun. Rehearsing and performing together is something that our children love as they laugh and learn together. Whatever the performance may be, whether a Nativity in St. Michael’s church or a year group play on the stage in the Bates Hall, the benefits go way beyond the aesthetic ‘wow factor’ of the bright and colourful costumes, the infectious songs or the enthusiastic dancing.
Performance gives our children so much more, and the opportunity to perform is an essential piece in the jigsaw of each child’s learning and personal development.