While we all want our kids to do well at school, we shouldn’t overlook the surprising benefits of fostering creativity in children at the expense of a focus on more traditional learning. Aside from being enormous fun, participation in the arts can spill over into a child’s academic achievement at school.
The teaching staff at Stamford American School say the arts can help develop traits such as creativity, self-expression and confidence. A belief in these benefits of the arts will ensure there is a strong focus on this in the curriculum when the school opens its doors in Ho Man Tin in September.
The skills your child learns from creative pursuits are linked to academic achievement, Stamford has found. Building imagination is tied directly to children’s ability to investigate, analyse and create. The school cites a report by Americans for the Arts which that says that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognised for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.
The arts are also seen to develop the skill of focus. This skill, which is required to learn to play a song on an instrument or memorise lyrics or lines, can be applied in other settings, such as school with great benefit. For younger children, simple things such as drawing, painting or playing an instrument are important to developing fine motor skills. Playing an instrument also improves hand muscles and back posture. Developing confidence in children is also a result of participating in the arts. Getting up on stage and singing gives kids a chance to step outside their comfort zone. As they improve and see their own progress, their self-confidence will continue to grow.
To see the benefits of the arts and creativity, try these art and drama activities at home which have been suggested by Stamford’s teaching team:
#1 Bow-tie Pasta Butterflies and Flowers
Put your old pasta to good use with this craft idea. Get your kids to colour and decorate the noodles with paint or fun chalk markers to turn them into pretty butterflies and flowers. Give them other noodles to see what spring-themed items your children can create with penne, spaghetti or fusilli noodles.
#2 Colour-changing flowers
Art meets science in this crafty experiment! Place stalks of white flowers in separate vases or test tubes filled with water that’s been dyed using different food colouring. After several days, your child will be mesmerised by how the petals of the flowers absorb the colours and turn into a rainbow of flowers.
#3 Chinese Whispers
Also known as “Telephone”, this activity requires the family or a group of friends to sit in a circle. Ask your child to start a sound and pass it on to the person on the left, who then passes it on to the next person and so on. This teaches your child to listen carefully as well as to enunciate clearly so that the sound is not distorted.
#4 Stuffed Toy Voice Projection
Place stuffed toys in front of your child at different distances (e.g., one about 50cm away, another a metre away and a third one placed across the room). Ask your child to look directly at each toy, one at a time, saying their own name and the name of their favourite colour, animal and story book. This game will teach them to project their voices louder as they speak to their toys that are farther away, and softer when speaking to a stuffed toy that is close to them.
The Stamford approach
The school will offer a broad, innovative, and balanced visual and performing arts program, which incorporates the framework and assessments of the Massachusetts Arts Curriculum, a national benchmark for arts education in the US. Weekly drama, music and art classes begin from age five and continue through to Grade 10 and will teach theoretical knowledge, as well as presentation and execution skills.
For students considering further study or a career in the arts, the school will offer three International Baccalaureate diploma pathways in theatre, music and visual arts. These rigorous courses will prepare your child to excel in fields such as writing, designing, directing or performing.
Students of all ages will also be able to participate in weekly performances, exciting art exhibitions, musical ensembles, as well as three full-scale theatre productions a year.
Stamford American School will open in September 2017 at 25 Man Fuk Road, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong. In the meantime, Stamford’s Admissions Team would be happy to meet with families at their Admissions Office located at Two Exchange Square, Level 40, Suites 4005-4007, 8 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong.
Check out our Living in Hong Kong section for more information on schools and education