In Jamaica, kids are learning that music and the arts can build character, instill confidence, develop communication skills – and can make them better learners. Vivien Morris, J.P., Speech, Drama & Visual Arts Teacher and Dalton Spence, Music Teacher are working together for the newest Christel House students.
“The Arts have a tremendous impact in shaping and developing a child’s personality,” says Morris. “The Arts nurture and enhance expression, which is essential in unleashing the child’s creative talents.” Vivien works with over 180 students, kindergarten through second grade. “We can influence character development by exploring and reinforcing important themes and behaviors.” She incorporates body movement into her curriculum to help kids let go of inhibitions, develop listening skills, and work on reflex development. “Students work in small groups to develop short productions which they perform for the entire class.” That exercise allows kids to be more comfortable expressing themselves in front of classmates. When it comes to music, Dalton believes music not only promotes teamwork, it helps children hone their mathematical skills. “When children are in choirs or performance ensembles, they learn to concentrate on the part they are playing as being part of the whole,” he says. “It helps them to work towards a goal, that moment when they can perform the piece from beginning to end in a confident manner.” While the teachers have had just a few weeks to work with the children, they see a difference. “I have been able to see the development of confidence, efforts to make eye-contact, and improvement in voice projection,” says Morris. “The process continues.”