Why use Dance and Drama as a teaching method in Primary schools?

Cast your mind back to your primary school days, we’re sure there will be some great nostalgic memories and others you'd much rather forget! We are also sure that most of us have similar experiences of how we were taught Dance and Drama in school.

Dance - that daunting, dull maypole we would absentmindedly prance around for half an hour (in our vest and knickers) or Drama, where the most extroverted member of staff would swoop in to produce the annual school play, whereby each of us were put through the terrifying task of reading a poorly written script in order to secure our positional ranking parts. It is these general, generational memories that have tarnished both creative subjects with the same bold, brutal brush.

Although both Dance and Drama are part of the National Curriculum (Dance comes under Physical Education, and Drama under English), it is these placings that unfortunately have resulted in the subjects becoming a tick box exercise.

Perhaps there are no maypoles screwed to the hall floor and the gruelling audition process is not practised anymore, but instead these have been replaced with schools taking shortcuts. For example, simply bringing in a professional dancer to teach 7 years olds Sala (as our topic is South America), or The Haka taught once a year in order to get the box ticked! As for Drama, well we read Charles Dickens out loud, surely that also ticked a box? Phew we don't have to touch either of these again until next year.

The misconceptions towards these two subjects are understandable, it was our own experiences that have resulted in many teachers and educational providers dreading each one. But we are here to tell you it doesn't have to be this way. The educational and emotional benefits these two subjects can have on children, staff and the entire school body is outstanding.

Here at Creative Minds we have a passion for teaching and learning. Having both been teachers, we have identified the growing need for all children to feel success and progress mentally, emotionally and physically. A young mind can be set free from the restraints of traditional teaching methods and ALL learning styles can be reached. By creative learning through the skills of dance and drama, children gain confidence to learn in a safe and stimulating environment, supporting all areas of their wellbeing.

Our vision is to ‘create the change’. We want to change the way children are being taught. Traditional methods of teaching are over 200 years old and can still be successful to this day, but not for all. Through only reaching a percentage there are still a number of children left struggling to understand what is being taught. As a result they can begin to disengage, lose self esteem, have behaviour issues and retreat from learning. Why not reach ALL children so ALL have the opportunity to feel successful in learning?

Wellbeing has always been a topical subject, none more so than now. However it doesn't have to be a stand alone topic that overworked teachers have to plan for. Creative learning through dance and drama can also encompass the strands of wellbeing in every single lesson. For example:

Physical Wellbeing - children actively learn dance/drama techniques through physical activity and improve and develop through performance.

Intellectual Well Being - not everyone learns in the same way, children learn a curriculum topic in a fun, engaging way by using a variety of teaching methods catering for all learning styles.

Emotional Wellbeing - children feel success and achievement from creating their own work. Completely child led, the child is proud of what they've achieved independently

Social Wellbeing - children will work in a variety of situations, such as duos, small groups and whole classes, allowing for teamwork, patience, empathy and a sense of belonging.

Creative learning can be a valued part of the school throughout the entire year, it can flow through each day and reach every part of the student body. This can be done with:

Enrichment days - World Book Day workshops, Black History Workshops, Science week etc...

Mental Health and Resilience Workshops - Throughout the year or focused times, for example transitioning into Juniors or to Secondary school.

Curriculum Delivery - Topic focused cross curricular lessons to support the teaching from the classroom.

Booster Groups - Support a focused group, SEN, ESL, Behavioural needs, G&T...

Extra Curricula - Dance and Drama clubs at lunch or after school.

It is not the fault of present day teachers or providers on how Dance and Drama are being taught, this is all anyone has ever known. Our own families often ask: “how do you get paid to prance around all day?” At a school not too long ago the teacher introduced us to her class and very optimistically promised “These incredible dancers will turn you all into Diversity!” We will not. You are 5 year olds. We have 45 minutes. We am not even good dancers! But, we are great teachers, and through the skills of dance we will reach every child in this lesson and you will understand the topic linked to the wider curriculum.

'Create the change, give young minds the freedom to learn creatively.'

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