How drama can improve the health and well-being of your child?
We all want our children to be healthy, active and happy so how can sending your child to a drama class help this? Drama is a very social activity which can help to improve behaviour, concentration and academic ability. It can also improve energy levels, physical strength and emotional and mental health. Drama can be a really meaningful way of exploring important issues and subjects around health and wellbeing. In our classes, exploring issues through improvisation, rehearsal and performance, the children can learn how to be safe and healthy in real life.
In ‘The Speech Bubbles Project’ by Jonathan Barnes (Canterbury Christ’s Church University) which was devised by theatre practitioner and aimed at six and seven year olds with communication difficulties, effects of drama on these children were recorded over a period of time. Researchers found that:
‘Fluency, vocabulary, inventiveness and concentration were enhanced in the large majority of referred children. The research also found significant positive developments in motivation and confidence. Teachers and their assistants credited the drama intervention with notable improvements in attitude, behaviour and relationships over the year. Aspects of many children’s psychological well-being also showed marked signs of progress when measured against original reasons for referral and normal expectations over a year. An unexpected outcome was evidence of heightened well-being of the teaching assistants involved.’
These findings suggest that Drama certainly does increase health and wellbeing but how does this relate to classes at ‘The Wake up Drama Academy’?
Our classes begin with a ten minute warm up games and activities. These activities are essential to the success of the lesson because they help to gel the group and disperse any feelings of insecurity or embarrassment the children may have. It may be a physical warm up involving different types of movement or a vocal warm up designed to get the children breathing regularly and speaking clearly. Or it could be an acting/improvisation activity relating to the main part of the lesson and used as an introduction to character and theme. The children love these activities and will often request their favourite games to start the lesson off. However, we always insist on doing a different activity each week so that the children are given a variety of physical and vocal warm ups.
In the next part of the lesson, the children are introduced to the main topic and a group discussion and, normally, demonstration takes place. This gives the children the opportunity to build their confidence in terms of larger group discussions and also the chance to volunteer to demonstrate in front of the others, normally with me playing one of the characters. The students love this and all the hands will shoot up when I ask for a volunteer! This part of the lesson helps to improve the student’s focus and concentration along with their confidence in giving ideas and joining in a whole group discussion.
Group work and Rehearsal.
During the group work and rehearsal, students then get the opportunity to really work as a team member and use their creativity and inventiveness whilst, at the same time, having fun! They will discuss who should play which character, how to make the plot effective and how to achieve the targets set out for them during the whole group discussion. All of this is good for the brain and gets the students thinking and acting on their feet. Not only is it good for their mental health, it is also good for them physically as they will be constantly moving around, using a variety of levels and having physical contact with their peers. All of this will help their behaviour and relationships with the other students in the class. Of course, confidence, communication skills and team work are all being honed during this part of the lesson as well.
Performance and Plenary.
Finally, we have performances and plenary at the end. The chance to perform gives the students the confidence they will need in so many walks of life. They are also improving their speech, physical expression and body posture. This is good for them physically but also in terms of improving motivation and the desire to succeed. During the plenary, we always focus on what has been effective about a performance so that the students feel rewarded for the work they have done. Of course, areas for improvement must be pointed out, but the focus is always on what they have achieved not what mistakes they have made. Even as adults, we know that we feel better when someone praises us for something we have done so this is an essential part of the lesson. What better way to keep your child healthy and active both mentally and physically!
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