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Jigsaw Arts is a place to belong

So much more than dance, drama and singing, Jigsaw Arts is a place to belong.  Imogen Katz shares her Jigsaw journey….

Jigsaw is a performing arts school that uses singing, dance and drama to inspire and help children grow in confidence and build skills that they will take with them wherever they go in life.

When I reflect on my Jigsaw journey as a student, a teacher and now as a Franchisee of two Jigsaw schools, I feel incredibly privileged to be able to share my story about how finding my place to belong at Jigsaw gave me so many transferable skills that I still use in everyday life now.

But how do performing arts classes help young people to really gain confidence and the skills to help in the real world?

I have never been the most academic person and was diagnosed with dyslexia in my second year of University.  However, I am confident enough to try and answer the question, by sharing my own experience of how finding my place to belong was a truly irreplaceable gift.

I was a pretty outgoing child with many friends, and I never hid away from the spotlight; I had dipped in and out of performing arts at school and absolutely loved taking part in school plays and assemblies for the social aspects and the chance to shine! It was when I hit those dreaded pre-teens years of comparing myself to the kids in the magazines, trying to fit in and keep up at secondary school, and having to start finding my own way more independently, that I believe Jigsaw’s classes inspired me most. So, I will start from there.

When I joined Jigsaw, I was exposed to a safe space where children could express themselves freely, make mistakes and ask for help without any judgement. It was so down to earth and friendly, even the teachers felt like my friends. I was never the most talented student in the class at Jigsaw, but that didn’t matter, I didn’t have to pretend or find ways to keep up. I was encouraged and could explore my full potential. I could laugh with the class and the teachers. I could laugh at myself.

Students were encouraged to step outside of their comfort zones and take small risks without the fear of failing. In class we were all part of a team, an ensemble, we were working and communicating together and without even realising it, we were making lifelong friendships along the way. We were challenged with role play scenarios and taught to think on our feet, to share ideas, make suggestions, and to reflect. We were given regular opportunities to feel like we had accomplished something and to feel proud of ourselves. And, we had fun!

I didn’t understand the full benefits of my Jigsaw classes at the time, but looking back now, I can recognise that I had been given an amazing opportunity to practice at real life, to believe in myself and my ability to adapt my learning into everyday scenarios.

So, when it came to secondary school stresses, college choices, university questions, work applications, having to think on my feet, make travel plan and negotiate in relationships, I felt equipped with the skills I had learned at Jigsaw and the confidence in myself to thrive.

I love Jigsaw’s ethos. In fact, I believe in the value of the school so much, that I have never left!

Becoming a teacher for Jigsaw was incredibly rewarding as it gave me the opportunity to share the positivity. We realise that children come to Jigsaw for a variety of reasons and believe that each individual child’s needs are of paramount importance.

I am now a Franchisee and manager of two Jigsaw Schools, and I cannot imagine my belief in what we do to be any further affirmed.

Classes are available on Sunday mornings in Finchley for children aged 3 – 18 years.  Imogen also runs classes on Saturday mornings in Teddington.  For more information call 020 3633 6457. Email finchley@jigsaw-arts.co.uk Visit www.jigsaw-arts.co.uk/finchley