It is not uncommon for an educator or parent to over-exert control on their kids. Control makes things simple. We provide a set of rules and enforce a certain curriculum, and the job is already half done. But let’s think about what such actions will implicate. Do you want to build the perfect foot soldier? Or an open minded, self-confident individual? The key to the latter is empowerment.
Empowering our kids through healthy learning methods and strategies not only builds character, but also creates an environment for enriched learning. Empowering children is about providing them with the right tools and techniques to learn. Teaching them how to learn with activities and positive methods develops a keen learning spirit within an individual, which is important because an individual never stops learning. Gandhi once said: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
The use of music and movement is one way to enhance learning. With the use of music, students are found to be more focused and energetic. According to tests and research, playing music stimulates the brain and increases the amount of information that is retained and recalled.
“When we keep students active, we keep their energy levels up and provide their brains with the oxygen-rich blood needed for highest performance.” (Jensen, 2005)
A way to keep children actively engaged is movement. Movement is a method based on research that suggests that physical activity before or during class increases the ability to process and retain new information.
Here is a list of some of these activities:
Movement Songs – e.g. Finger Family, Garden Boogie, Skipping Along
Building Blocks – Make connection through building blocks
Spelling Whiteboard Games
Exploratory Games – Hide & Seek, Scavenger Hunts
What makes art such a great teaching tool? Art engages children’s senses in open-ended play and develops Cognitive, Social, Emotional and Sensori-Motor skills. Art is a cooperative learning experience that provides pleasure, challenge, and a sense of mastery. Instruction in the arts is one of the best ways in which to involve the different modes of learning; through art, children learn complex thinking skills and master developmental tasks (Belden & Fessard, 2001).
Integrating Art Into The Classroom
Art, as a tool, does not only benefit developmental skills, but also academic subjects like science, literacy and math. These methods include doing activities that are related to the topic that is being covered. When studying a concept, children learn better and retain the information longer if an art activity is in play to reinforce the subject. This method has been in effect since the time of Confucius, who famously said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember; I do and I understand.”
Art activities are a great way to promote literacy and language development. Children who draw pictures of stories they have read, improve their reading comprehension, and are motivated to read new material (Deasy & Stevenson, 2002). Pre-writers that are introduced to art tools have an increased ability to pick up writing. Through research art can develop reflective and expressive skills that enhance writing and also promotes visual literacy, spatial relation skills, print awareness and verbal creativity.
It is important that parents facilitate art methods into their child’s learning. It is common to hear parents getting excited about the end product of their child’s art piece. This is good as it encourages enthusiastic learning. Acknowledging the value of your child’s are and keeping supplies at home and designating a “messy art” corner is a great way to reinforce these learning methods. What is more important in learning is the process that the child goes through when creating each art piece. These practises help improve writing skills, creative thinking and helps reinforce lessons. It is always the process of learning that is to be enjoyed and savored. Too often we put emphasis on our children’s completed paintings or insist on perfect little cut out shapes, but we forget that it’s the experience of painting, drawing, and cutting that matter most to our children’s development.
At Two by Two Schoolhouse, we celebrate the success of each and every child. All art forms; be it visual or performing arts, are imaginative and leaves the end open to the creators, our children. As art integrates our curriculum across all disciplines, our children have ownership of and take pride in their unique efforts and ultimately develop confidence, versatility, tenacity and creativity; traits that are crucial for the 21st century.
For more information about our holistic curriculum, do feel free to call us at 62450838 or drop by our centre to experience our school culture!