How is speech and drama classes different from phonics classes? Which is more beneficial for my child?
Phonics classes are generally designed to help children develop their reading and writing competence with an emphasis on letter and sound recognition. Speech and Drama classes are designed to help develop children’s creative imagination, clarity of speech, expressive speech and confident communication. Children will benefit from both classes depending on their needs. Children who would need some support in expressive and confident communication would definitely benefit from Speech and Drama classes.
In a typical Speech and Drama class at Julia Gabriel Centre, children are encouraged to participate in sharing sessions where the teacher and students sit in a circle and participate in a shared conversation about news or items of interest. This enables children to develop focus and turn-taking skills. The teacher also uses the opportunity during sharing to be an excellent language model for the children in Standard English speech.
The warm up segment of the class, children play games and participate in moving and speaking rhymes which energise the body, relax the mind, engage imagination and free the voice. This is a crucial preparation for the drama segment of the class. This is closely followed by voice and speech exercises where children work on developing clarity of speech and expressive communication.
The main focus of a Speech and Drama lesson will be the introduction of an age-appropriate piece of literature – a poem, a story or a prose extract. Teachers will introduce this text to the children in an interactive manner allowing children to respond to the text through discussion and idea sharing. This text will then become the springboard for drama which will enable to extend their understanding and exploration of the text. Drama allows young children to take on characters and roles, to participate in creative problem-solving and to work together as a team in different learning adventures.
There is also an opportunity after drama for children to record their drama experience in a creative manner through drawing, writing, creating maps, designing props etc. This enables children to capture their drama experience in a concrete manner.
Thus Speech and Drama classes can be a very comprehensive way for children to grow in their ability to communicate with confidence and purpose, using speech that is expressive and impactful.
Head of Department Speech and Drama, Readers and Writers