Five Ways Drama Will Help a Child Prepare for School
It’s January and a lot of people will be thinking ahead to their little one starting Reception in September. The deadline for primary school applications is January 15th 2018. The demand for certain Ealing primary schools can be very heavy so it’s a nervous time for some parents.
You might be concerned about your child starting school, particularly if you have a summer-born child. Both my children (now 6 and 8) are August born and I was very nervous about how they’d cope. Perhaps they have a very short attention span, find it difficult to sit still, or they are very shy and find it difficult to speak up in group situations or to make friends. Or perhaps they lack co-ordination and balance and just seem too little to be joining a formal school environment.
As the mother of two August born children, who both started drama classes in Ealing, just after they turned 4 years old, I can’t recommend the activity highly enough. I honestly think the things they have learned in their drama classes have transferred to their school lives. I’ve even had a teacher ask if my daughter does drama lessons because she reads with such good expression, giving every character in the book its own voice and personality – and she has done this from an early age thanks to drama giving her the ability to think about characters and how they would speak and the tone of voice they would use in different situations.
The benefits that drama (combined with dance) gave my two children (a boy and a girl) in their early years at primary school include:
- Focus – when learning new dance moves and learning when to say your lines, concentration is essential. It’s a gentler way of teaching young children to keep their attention centred on a given task than say just sitting them down with a text book but it will eventually transfer into all activities they do.
- Confidence – my son was a very shy 3 year old and had to start school a month after turning 4. He took quite a few weeks to settle into his Yourstage Tots class. He is now 6 and there is no doubt that his drama lessons have given him a huge boost in self-confidence.
- Physical skills and co-ordination – dance classes are great for helping young children become more co-ordinated and to be more aware of their bodies and posture. Dramatic play helps children develop both gross and fine motor skills.
- Language development – Drama teaches and encourages expressive language. Children are motivated to communicate with their classmates and therefore must learn to speak from the perspective of their make-believe roles. Dramatic play is often a more relaxed place for children who are shy or withdrawn to learn how to participate in a group.
In order to work together in a dramatic play situation, children learn to use language in a natural way, to explain what they are doing. They learn to ask and answer questions and the words they use fit whatever role they are playing. Their vocabulary range grows as they begin to use new words appropriately. The importance of reading and writing skills in their everyday lives becomes evident by their use of literacy materials that fill the area. As their reading skills improve they will often read with far better expression than their peers who are not taking drama classes because they are used to bringing characters to life.
This has certainly been the case with my now 8 year old daughter who reads every book out loud as if she’s on a stage. Every teacher she’s had in the last three years has commented on how she loves to read out loud in class, putting on different character voices and tones to suit different emotions!
- Cognitive skills– When children are involved in make-believe play, they used their imagination and pictures in their mind to recreate personal experiences, as well as to imagine themselves in situations they have never been in. When children come together with experienced drama teachers in this form of play, they also learn how to share ideas, and solve problems together.
There are many other advantages that children will gain from drama classes at any age but these are specifically the main benefits I have seen in my own children who started drama from the age of 4. As the youngest children in their year I have seen how it has helped them catch up with the older children in their year too. It is probably the best activity I could have signed them up for.
It’s not too late to sign your child up for a drama class this term, why not look into it now? It could be the activity that unlocks potential in your child in so many different areas of their school and personal lives.
Felicity Sandford runs Amazing Futures Ltd, an outsourced marketing support and consultancy service, providing freelance marketing support for children’s products and services, including children’s activity providers. She has been Marketing Director for Yourstage Drama since July 2015 and has loved every minute!
Yourstage Drama runs term-time Saturday morning classes and school holiday drama courses in Ealing for 3 to 16 year olds. Spring and Summer term 2018 will see Yourstage students working towards a production of Bugsy Malone in July 2018.
Yourstage holds its Ealing drama and dance classes at St Augustine’s Priory, taking advantage of the school’s stunning setting and first class facilities including concert hall, dedicated drama and music rooms, expansive outdoor grounds (great for school holiday course lunch breaks) and outdoor theatre space.