Education in the arts; drama, visual arts, dance, music and media has a hugely positive impact on children; their learning environment and educational outcomes as well as health and socio-cultural well-being. These are all things we know anecdotally. Here are some proven reasons why consciously including creativity in your child’s life will make an enormous difference.
Your child will develop empathy, tolerance and an understanding of different perspectives
The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. Your child will learn that there are multiple ways to see the world. Researchers recently found that taking children to see live theatre means they can understand stories more deeply, think more about individual characters and develop their vocabulary significantly.
Most importantly, if your child sees or participates in regular live theatre performances, he or she could show more resilience and could improve their ability to read other people’s emotions. By being part of something tangible and real, a child’s empathy is increased.
The arts will enable your child to experience something, without actually experiencing it.
It enables them to conceive completely original ideas. It gives them the ability to survive the 21st century where, every week it seems, there is a new technology giving us something we’d never imagined possible. The ability to act with innovation and creativity prepares our children for a world we will never see. It provides them with creative outlets encouraging imagination and invention.
The arts will show your child that a problem can have more than one solution, and it may change in a heartbeat.
Creativity is about solving problems. As the saying goes ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’. Unlike much of the primary school curriculum, the arts reminds us of a reality where questions can have more than one answer. Were you one of those kids who was particularly bad at multi-choice tests? If so, you can bet you’re pretty creative. Problems can be solved differently in different circumstances and with different opportunities. Learning in the arts requires the ability and willingness to surrender to unanticipated possibilities as a project develops.
The arts will teach your children to think twice. It teaches them that you don’t have to be the richest, the most powerful or the most beautiful to make a difference. In theatre, the lesson is learnt deeply.
The theatre arts are a superb lesson in illusion; if you’re pretty it doesn’t stop you being fierce, if you’re small it doesn’t stop you saving the world, if you’re a witch you won’t be able to hide for long, if you’re a monster you aren’t necessarily mean, smiling friends can cause big problems and importantly a rabbit hole isn’t always a rabbit hole. These are incredibly important lessons I want my children to learn.
The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said. They are able to express how they feel.
Children who can understand and manage their own feelings, stay calm and enjoy their experiences, are more likely to develop a positive sense of self and be confident and curious learners. Supported by their increased language, thinking, planning and organising abilities, pre-schoolers develop more advanced emotional skills such as being able to wait longer for things they want (delayed gratification) and having more understanding of their friends’ feelings. They also begin to realise that what they do will affect their friends too.
Because it is the arts!
There is one other important question when wondering if your child should be involved in a creative activity – and that is why we feel the need to justify it by explaining that arts is a means to an end; that art will aid problem-solving, that music will improve mathematics and that drama will encourage empathy.
Arts education is an end in itself. It can and should be appreciated for being intrinsic to culture, to expression and to identity. It is fundamental to the richness of our society and both education and society are all the greater for it.
This article was provided by Brisbane Arts Theatre and published in Issue 25 of our print magazine, December 2017/January 2018.