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Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years

This article is an extract from Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years by David Farmer available in paperback and Kindle.
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Dramatic activity is already a natural part of most children’s lives before they start school in the form of make-believe play, enabling them to make sense of their own identity by exploring meaningful fictional situations that have parallels in the real world. This can be utilised at school through structured play and drama to encourage pupils to learn actively and interactively throughout the primary years and across the curriculum.

Children like to move and to interact with others. In drama we ask them to do exactly this. Rather than sitting still and listening they are encouraged to move, speak and respond to one another. Students who are challenged by reading and writing (including those with English as a second language) often respond more positively to the imaginative and multisensory learning offered by drama. This in turn helps them develop such skills as creativity, enquiry, communication, empathy, self-confidence, cooperation, leadership and negotiation. Most importantly, drama activities are fun – making learning both enjoyable and memorable.

Drama is ideal for cross-curricular learning and is a valuable tool for use in many subject areas. In particular, drama develops literacy skills – supporting speaking and listening, extending vocabulary and encouraging pupils to understand and express different points of view. Dramatic activity motivates children to write for a range of purposes.

Drama gives children opportunities to explore, discuss and deal with difficult issues and to express their emotions in a supportive environment. It enables them to explore their own cultural values and those of others, past and present. It encourages them to think and act creatively, thus developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can be applied in all areas of learning. Through drama, children are encouraged to take responsible roles and make choices – to participate in and guide their own learning. Teachers can take a more open-ended approach, concentrating on the process of learning at least as much as – if not more than – the product.

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