Performing arts leads to a performing mind

Mar 2012
Performing arts improve vocabulary and help develop children's writing skills
Performing arts improve vocabulary and help develop children's writing skills

Creative expression in the form of dance, drama or musical performances can stimulate children's imagination and help them bring their ideas to life.

In her publication, The Importance of Theatre and Performance to the Development of the Child, Professor Maggie Kinloch argued that the theatre provides a host of benefits for children, including the following:

  • It stimulates their creativity

  • It helps them make sense of their emotions

  • It develops their ability to understand

  • It allows them to face their fears in a safe environment

  • It challenges their preconceptions about the world in which they live

  • It develops their aesthetic sense

  • It develops their language and communication skills

  • It introduces new ideas to them and allows them to express opinions

A Performing Arts Planner, created by an arts organisation called Imaginate that promotes and develops the performing arts for children and young people in Scotland, was designed to support Scottish schools in rolling out stimulating dramatic performances. This had the central aim of performing arts playing a key role in children's development.

"The performing arts play a vital role in meeting children's cultural, social and developmental needs. Engaging with the best quality performances can have a powerful and meaningful impact on children and young people's lives and provide lifelong benefits."

As well as being thoroughly enjoyable for children, performing arts activities have been shown to have a significant impact on the process of improving Literacy levels in children. The 'Talk for Writing' approach which has been advocated by writer, poet and educational consultant Pie Corbett includes 'Imitation' or experiencing and learning a text orally. This is central to his three-fold plan for improving writing.

An action research project by the Lancashire Literacy team, which focused on improving boys' writing through visual literacy and drama, reached the following conclusion;

"Stimulus from drama and visual approaches has also resulted in a greater control of voice, style and pace, noticeable progress in sub-levels across the strands and a positive attitude to writing for specific purposes."

Ultimately, performing arts is an excellent way to empower children to think in a number of different ways and may have the added benefit of aiding their academic performance.