Fostering personal growth and development through the artsEducation | 27 Apr 2021
Expressive Arts is a popular discipline of helping and healing that uses the arts as the basis for discovery and change. This non-verbal approach has proven to have a positive impact on students’ well-being, especially for children with language difficulties.
All too often, introverted students or those with special educational needs (SEN) will find it hard to adapt to the school environment and get along with their peers, as they lack the skills to express themselves.
In this regard, the presence of expressive arts programs and activities at school has proven to be the key to boost the efficacy of communication among students and teachers, as well as creating an inclusive learning environment.
Acting as a bridge of communication, expressive arts combines visual arts, movement, music, drama, writing and other creative processes to foster better personal growth and development.
The art of communication
Expression through a variety of creative media such as storytelling, drama, and creative movement helps children explore their thoughts and emotions. It also helps them release complicated feelings more positively and naturally, thereby boosting their communication and self-regulation skills.
Recent research in Hong Kong shows that children had higher social competency scores after taking part in the expressive arts programmes, suggesting that they felt more confident around other children and were more willing to interact with others.
Titled ‘Jockey Club Expressive Arts Programme for Children’, the research is funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and took place from July 2017 to January 2021.
“Through this programme, we’ve witnessed the enormous benefits that expressive arts can have on the vital relationships between children and their caregivers and teachers,” says Tiffany Pinkstone, Managing Director of The Sovereign Art Foundation
“We hope by sharing these results and testimonials, we can help promote a wider understanding of the importance of art as a tool for communication and the importance of a holistic education for our children,” she adds.
Learning through the arts
More than a form of entertainment or a hobby, art is also a powerful tool for education. Whichever art form is being utilized, deep thinking and strong senses are often required.
Both art and play offer information from the right brain, which holds the holistic, intuitive, visual and affect-derived intelligence, in contrast to the left brain that holds more linear, linguistic and mathematical intelligence.
Thus, learning arts can foster children’s creative development and assist in advancing and refining core skills like imagination. Furthermore, arts can help develop children’s cognitive and critical thinking abilities, including thinking, reasoning, understanding, learning, and remembering.
Taking an example of performing arts like dance and drama, students are given chances to learn valuable skills that are hard to acquire in everyday studies, such as public speaking, verbal skills and emotional intelligence.
Additionally, this also provides a chance for physical engagement which can improve student’s concentration in the classroom, especially for students at the elementary level. What’s more, students can achieve a sense of accomplishment through performance, thereby boosting their self-confidence.
Development of social skills
Good social skills are critical to achieving a successful life as they can influence school performance, peer relationship and even future job prospects. Arts have a powerful way of bringing people together, as many of the activities can be practised in groups. This gives children the opportunity to interact with different people and learn how to appreciate the difference between people.
As children have to work and collaborate as a team, they will able to learn how to share and accept responsibility when interacting with others, which contributes to the development of social skills as well as encouraging relationship and trust.
In addition to social skills, arts also build students’ empathy. Recognized as a core life skill, empathy refers to the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.
The expressive arts allow students to see things via the eyes of others in a play, book or film, putting themselves in others’ shoes to gain a better understanding of people’s emotions and experiences. It has been proven that for those who are empathic, they are able to cope with conflict and difficult social situations, and less likely to engage in bullying behaviours.