Creativity and play are vital steps in building confidence

  • Arts and sports – and sympathetic teachers – can do wonders in tapping a child’s true potential and encouraging them to be the very best they can
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 12:43pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2018, 12:45pm

I believe that building a child’s confidence is the key to success. But what has the biggest impact on building that confidence?

In school, the main factor is the relationship between the pupil and the teacher. If a rapport or understanding can be developed, then great progress can be made. Every teacher and every subject can contribute to that. Each person is a unique individual who will respond differently. That is why different teaching styles are equally valid because they will elicit different responses.

However, for me, art, music, drama and P.E. do something different for a child’s confidence, opening doors to learning for them and extending their horizons. Our philosophy is to be ambitious academically, personally and socially. These have equal weighting. You may have plenty of qualifications and degrees but if you cannot talk to other people or work with them effectively and collaboratively, you won’t get far in today’s world.

The arts and sports can fulfil all of the aims of our philosophy: they help pupils to be the best they can be, to take risks and try new things, challenge themselves personally. They also encourage effective teamwork.

My 42 years’ teaching experience, 22 of which have been spent as a principal, has taught me the value of these subjects. As an English teacher, I know the value of reading and developing associated skills, but the arts and sports do something special in terms of a child’s development.

Having specialist teachers in these subjects makes a huge difference. In my view, there are three main reasons for this. One is to develop skills and talents from an early age. As a parent, if your child displayed an aptitude for music, for example, you would get them a piano or violin tutor. Equally, in school, specialist teaching helps develop talent.

Secondly, having a core of teachers you already know helps transitions at different stages and independent learning. Walking around the building to find the different subjects helps the latter but the main benefit comes in the primary/secondary transition. The male of the species is always less mature than the female. For boys in primary, this is manifested by their lack of practical knowledge: what subject is next? Where do I go? Having a core group of secondary specialists in primary helps eliminate that problem.

Thirdly, and crucially for me, they raise a child’s confidence noticeably. Drama, for example, helps with teamwork and problem-solving but also allows pupils to adopt another persona as a character in a play which helps shy, reserved people build their confidence. Similarly, to find that you can play a musical instrument you had never tried previously, or compose your own music successfully, are both tremendous boosts.

This is true also for art and P.E. – seeing your own art work on display, playing in a winning team or being the star of a gymnastics competition all contribute to that confidence building.

Quite simply, the more positive you are about a pupil’s work the more their confidence grows, yielding even more success and progress.