Often, we’re very focussed on reading, maths and coding in the early years of our children’s education. But what about drama, dance, music and art? How important are the performance arts for learning? And what’s their value in primary education?
Bellevue Public School’s Assistant Principal Lisa Walkersmith is passionate about introducing the arts to kids early, which is reflected in their learning outcomes in each grade. She shares how they foster an excitement to perform in every child through education.
Make it a key focus
Lisa’s school puts on a musical every second year, and an art show on the off year, with every single student being involved. It’s a big event that the whole school community looks forward to all year.
They have rehearsals leading up to it, a day and night performance, and every single student gets their turn in the spotlight plus particular talents in musical instruments, singing and dancing are showcased.
“It gets filmed onto a DVD as a keepsake forever, and they also get their turn at the front of the stage, so it’s really organised,” explains Lisa. “The dance routines are by professional dance teachers that come into the school.”
Infuse the arts into other subjects
The show has an annual theme which is incorporated into a whole unit of classwork leading up to the performance. Students can also have their say on the inquiry, and what they want to learn about the topic. This means that the unit evolves as it goes, and what they learn is put into practice on stage.
Listen to Lisa on Kinderling Conversation:
“Each year we’ve tried to choose a focus that really affects us,” Lisa says. One year, they focused on sustainability, cleaning up rubbish, and doing right by the environment. As a result, the school was spotless! They actually won an Environment award from the Teacher’s Federation and the local council got involved.
Lisa believes every aspect of art and drama can be put into anything, which she saw demonstrated in her own education. “The teachers that I really, really loved were the teachers that showed and told. That got us up and moving. That integrated things like drama into their lessons. It was so inspirational for me.”
Performing arts develop confidence and social skills
Lisa says that by giving students opportunities to shine, it builds confidence and social skills which are an essential part of a child’s development.
Lisa also sees the arts as a great way to get students more engaged with their learning. “It can get kids moving, it can get kids thinking and it plays on their need to be involved in their learning,” she says.
Plus, studies have shown that people who are musically talented are often quite mathematically talented too, despite the subjects using two different parts of the brain. Brain connections are better if you have learnt an instrument growing up. Only a small percentage of student learn best by reading a textbook, which is why they’ve found this method so effective.
“There’s the need for all different types of learning, and that’s what we’re big on at our school as well, making sure we’re using all the multiple intelligences in our learning and all the different smarts in the way kids need to learn, integrating it altogether,” Lisa says.
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