Why drama is such an important learning tool for children!
Gemma Scott is a recent addition to the KidooLand team. She has always had a passion for communication and after graduating with a degree in Drama and Education Studies she went on to work in broadcasting as a presenter, reporter and journalist. Gemma has not only reported on some the world’s most prestigious sports events but also trained sports professionals in media presentation, taught sailing to kids aged 8 – 80 and since becoming a mum herself, she has been teaching English, drama and communications.
In this week's blog article, Gemma explains why she is such a firm believer that drama gives children a safe place to explore language, experiences and emotions whilst having fun, and its true what they say; we learn so much when we don’t even realise we are learning.
"I truly believe that learning should be fun especially for children. If we take the traditional form of learning and mix it up with creativity, exploration and wonder, we capture not only the attention of the children but their naturally inquisitive minds, we tend to see a sparkle in the eyes and a hunger to learn more becomes apparent, and that is why drama and theatre are so incredibly important to us as tools for learning.
As a teacher of foreign language, I have looked in depth at the ways language is taught and so many methods come back to drilling target language – forcing children to repeat words, phrases and poems in order to learn parrot fashion. But what about allowing the children to explore the language, through role play, through movement, through sounds and expressing emotion? This is where drama becomes one of the most powerful tools for children of all ages.
Drama is defined as the activity of acting and as teachers we use drama to work in partnerships with our pupils, allowing them to lower any inhibitions and to behave in a way that may be considered unacceptable or inappropriate in ‘real ‘life’ or embarrassing even and once inhibitions are lowered and fears of being laughed at or getting something wrong are stripped, confidence exudes and that is when results appear.
My method of teaching through drama is very much theme led, we will explore a story or a theme for example a classic story such as Elmer the Elephant, I will read a story with the children and then we will do a speed re-inaction of the story using running, jumping, singing, climbing, rolling, talking, fast actions, slow actions and many more in order to bring the story alive. At this point the children are following me, their teacher and we are all doing the same thing, maybe making a funny noise or expression and because we are all doing it it becomes fun and not scary. The next step in a lesson is to encourage the children to explore their own way to express themselves. To become a character and we will explore – how does your character walk? How does he eat? How does he sit? How does he greet a friend? How loud is his voice? All of these early steps of drama are allowing the children to think and move freely. And then they are more confident when it comes to practicing the language, because remember saying new words in a new language can be rather frightening, especially when others might be listening, and we might say it incorrectly.
This imaginative role play can them move into simulations of real life events, and as our students grow in confidence and ability we are able to begin to explore interactions that occur in everyday life, going to the shops, going on holiday, taking the dog to the vet, a job interview, a news story the list is endless but by creating a safe place in which to practice language as a character children have fun and never was a truer phrase spoken than ‘when we have fun we forget we are learning’.
Think about it, can you honestly put your hand up and say you never pretended to be a princess or a warrior, a racing driver or a monster? And wasn’t it so much fun? And didn’t you feel like you could achieve anything? Well, you could, and you did, and your children will too.
Learning English is fun and even more so when learning through drama and drama play."
If your child would like to join Gemma this summer, she will be running both the "Learn to be a TV Presenter" and "Creative Writing" Anglocamps in July! Visit www.kidooland.com for more information...