By Tulika Kedia
In a constantly evolving globalised environment, where technology and gadgets are becoming more of a norm than preference, the need to focus on a child’s holistic development becomes both crucial and a necessity. I see children as young as three years old plopped on couches with phones or TV remotes in their hands. In a scenario where our daily lives are intrinsically dependent on technology, encouraging children to participate in performing arts assists in their balanced development, making them smart, confident, physically fit and active.
The effect of performing arts on a child’s development has long held the interest of child psychologists, educators and parents. Through research it has been proven that performing arts allow children to think creatively and gain new experiences, both important contributors of early childhood development. Parents mustn’t get caught up in a web of indecisiveness: “Which form of art should my child engage in?” Every art form, whether it is drawing, dance, music, etc, has its impact on a child’s development in varied ways. The crucial aspect is to make sure children are engaged in activities other than just partaking in the school syllabus.
As per studies, extracurricular activities are found to drastically reduce the level of cortisol- stress inducing hormone in humans. Encouraging children to take up performing arts will enable them to learn ways to channelise their stresses and anxieties, a natural part of any young adult’s journey. Rather than using gadgets to distract themselves in stressful situations, they can learn to find their own manner of dealing with scenarios in a healthy manner.
Learning the art of expression
Participating in art, music, dance and other similar activities can not only hone their developmental skills, both mentally and physically, but would enable them to explore their own talents and bring them to the fore. This aspect allows children to not only develop meaningful interactions in the world around them but also nurture a strong sense of self. Theatre is one such form of performing art that the child can be an active part of. Theatre lets a child get in touch with his inner thoughts and feelings and emote them in a fruitful way, something that young adults resist doing owing to peer pressure and issues of self-image.
All forms of performing arts teach children about issues that are prevalent in society and the world as a whole. It educates and informs them about socio-economic and geo-political topics and their impact on the world at large. It enables them develop an expansive world view and sensitivity towards diverse world issues beyond the immediate environment they are growing in.
Being a team player
Being a part of a team requires the child to put forward collaborative efforts when the performance is staged for a live audience. It teaches a child how to function within a team where a variety of individuals are present. Additionally, the child learns to adapt to different personalities and to value and respect each individual so teamwork can lead to collaborative success. These practical lessons are to be learnt beyond books and outside the classroom.
A keen interest and disciplined commitment on the part of the child paired with the right direction and opportunities may result in ample opportunities along the way. Arts, when introduced during the formative years of a child, can go a long way in shaping their personality and view world. Their malleable minds and talents can be honed through performing arts, enabling them to strengthen their individual competencies.
Forms of art like music, dance or theatre when pursued in an individual capacity can be expensive to begin and costly to pursue. It can thus be helpful if schools accommodate these as part of their curriculum. This has a lot of benefits as stated above and would be a cost-effective way to help a child grow exponentially.
Practiced over an extended period of time, performance arts have shown to bring significant positive changes in a child. It can have a cathartic impact on a child going through stress or other similar issues that may otherwise remain pent up within them. It can also be a good break from all the academic classes they are required to attend. A balanced schedule would rejuvenate them and give them energy for the rest of the day. Lastly and most importantly, it helps the child grow in a much more holistic way since they are fueled with both academic and creative sources.
(The writer is President, DPS Nagpur Kamptee & Mihan.)
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