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Why Arts Education is Important in a Child’s Social Development

25 February 2019

As an advocate for the arts and the benefits it can bring about in young people, I could talk about this until I am blue in the face… but I shan’t. Instead I shall attempt to sum it up in a few hundred words.

The arts are a fantastic way of enhancing a young person’s social skills, development, education and creativity. Not only do the arts give young people the opportunity to express and explore who they are, but also offers a space where they can develop social skills in a safe and friendly atmosphere.

For my final piece of research for my Masters degree, I delved into the deep question: “What value do the arts hold for young people in education?”. Now this is a mind blowingly huge concept, but here’s one quote by Sir Ken Robinson (an education and creativity expert/legend) which will now forever be imprinted on my brain: 

             ‘Creativity is as important as literacy’. 

Through my research, my time as a teaching assistant, a teacher both in and out of schools, and my time as a Jigsaw manager, I can honestly say that I believe the arts are imperative to a child's development and that they offer a unique place between logic and creativity.

At Jigsaw, young people are constantly role-playing as different characters, trying on different ‘shoes’ to see which ones fit best. They get to work out how best to express their emotion in an open and honest way, with the chance to ‘practice’ before doing it for real in the outside world. Young people are encouraged and guided to develop their language skills through description, reading scripts and learning new words relative to the craft. Utilising script work, improvisation and lyric sheets, they can explore new ways of engaging with language outside of the conventional school learning space. 

Young people become motivated to convey their thoughts by their friendly and approachable teachers. By speaking to others from the perspective of another character, the arts allow development of their emotional articulacy and self-expression. They can begin to understand what it may be like to be someone else, empathise and begin to see the affects their actions can have on others. Imaginative play involves the process of pretending, or in other words, an opportunity to experiment with different roles of life. Social development is vital element to a person’s overall wellbeing, and these artistic encounters and interactions with others can help them anaylise their own behaviours and help to regulate thoughts and emotions. 

Jigsaws performing arts classes for 3-6 year olds are a fantastic opportunity for our little ones to begin to install these social skills, awareness of others and of themselves, as well as intelligence, discipline and perseverance. Working as a team, the teacher will take them on a 90 minute all singing, all dancing journey where the children will be immersed in a new world. A place where they are listened to, yet allowed to ask questions and express themselves, yet begin to understand discipline. 

Curiosity is a driving force behind a young person’s development and Jigsaw encourages the authentic process of growth through the arts. The arts force a person to live in the present, to see the now, and truly experience a singular moment. Never are the children forced to ‘perform’ or put under immense amounts of pressure to ‘put on a show’. Instead, they are watered and fed week on week, Saturday by Saturday, offering them the perfect growing conditions in order for them to prosper and thrive. 

Access to the arts is just as important as maths and literacy. It can offer an abundance of social development skills, creative thinking skills, body awareness, and emotional competence. Creativity really is as importance as learning how to read and write. Let me leave you with one last brilliant quote from Sir Ken Robinson, ‘if all you had was academic ability, you wouldn't have been able to get out of bed this morning. In fact, there wouldn't have been a bed to get out of. No one could have made one. You could have written about the possibility of one, but not have constructed it.’