Does practice make perfect? Perfection is not what we should be aiming for. Rather we should try hard, practise, and aim to be the best we can be in the amount of time given. We see the most significant progress in the students who have been with us for a while. Great progress takes time.
It doesn’t simply matter how good you are at something either. It’s what you learn along the way that is most important. Sonia Thompson talks about the benefits of extra-curricular activities in this article and what is to be gained if a child sticks with an activity for a couple of years or more.
Speech and Drama is not a quick fix if your child struggles with confidence, anxiety or communication. Our long term parents understand this. They have seen their kids transform over the years they’ve spent learning Speech and Drama and they have seen the benefits it has had on other areas of their lives.
Even when you know an activity is beneficial for your child, kids won’t always be enthused one hundred percent of the time. Getting to lessons and practising at home can be a struggle. We interviewed some Speak Up parents and asked how they manage this kind of resistance, how they juggle Speech and Drama along with everything else in their busy lives, and what it has been like to watch their child’s progress.
Here are some of their stories…
Using communication skills for good
“You never know what is going to click with kids. Speech and Drama has been a real outlet for him. Early in his schooling he started to fall behind and used his fantastic recall and speaking skills as a way of deflecting from what he was meant to be doing. He has always had amazing comprehension skills but spelling is still his nemesis.
While speaking out in the classroom is not always encouraged, at Speak Up he has always been encouraged to express himself verbally. It’s provided a different way of learning for him where he can use his strengths of oral and verbal communication and extend his fast mind.
Drama is not the only thing he does. He has tried viola and string ensemble and does Brazilian martial art Capoeira plus art lessons every Saturday. The performance aspect of drama is what he likes though – the opportunity to stand up and create a character.
Because he loves Speak Up so much it’s never been too hard to encourage him. Whenever he has had doubts about performing, I’ve said, “What’s the worst that can happen if you forget a line?” And he says, “That Miss Cathy will prompt me.” I say, “Is that so bad?”, “No.”
When he has been tired from school and doesn’t want to go to class, I say “But you love it.” And he says “ok, yep.”
Seeing his confidence grow and the progress he has made has been wonderful to watch. It’s not just an after-school activity for him. It’s a pathway to longer term goals. It is wonderful to see him apply what he has learnt in drama at school and be able to communicate his ideas so well and be able to move smoothly through thoughts from one idea to the next. He’s become good at understanding subtext and the hidden message and is great at delivering one liners.
It’s not just an after-school activity for him. It’s a pathway to longer term goals.
In the future, I’m sure he’d love an agent and to do it full time! I’d like to see him keep working on being able to deliver a message, not just his lines.
The great thing about Speak Up is the professionalism – comparing when we joined to now, Speak Up continues to grow. It’s always improving and developing what’s presented from the quality of the concerts to the leadership program. They are always offering more opportunities for students to grow too.”
Building confidence and bravery
“We have introduced our kids to heaps of different sports, hobbies and activities. Tennis, music and drama seemed to stick. Sometimes it’s a struggle juggling all their commitments.
We put a high value on out-of-school interests, but have had to prioritise on occasion. Sometimes they have let one activity go, so they can concentrate on others. We have found two to three extracurricular interests is about right.
I don’t think either child has ever wanted to sit out a drama session from lack of interest. They look forward to Speak Up each week. Sometimes we need to ‘encourage’ them to stick with other interests (eg. their musical instruments) for their own good. Usually we make a deal – “Give it 12 months and then you can stop if you want.”
Both our kids love Speak Up and have since the beginning. They definitely enjoy acting and learning about drama. But I think they mostly enjoy the relaxed and fun setting, the friends they’ve made (including the teachers) and the chance to get a bit ‘crazy’ in a safe and accepting space.
I’ve enjoyed seeing the general sense of confidence they’ve developed (including bravery) and the friendship groups they’ve formed. We think it has helped them with school presentations, making friends and negotiating life generally.
We don’t know whether either or both of them would like to continue with drama as an area of study/vocation after high school. I don’t think they know either. I’m sure Miss Cathy and other teachers will be able to guide us over the next year or two.”
Read more about how practice does not make perfect.