Singapore Repertory Theatre

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Awakening Self-Awareness Through the Arts

In a world full of challenges, having a secure sense of self is important. Building confidence and self-awareness starts at a young age.  

Learning through drama and the arts is a great way to grow confidence and self-awareness in children. In our Wolf Trap classroom residencies in preschools across Singapore, children get the chance to roleplay scenarios through dramatic play and improvisation, learning to express their thoughts in a safe space, offer creative solutions with confidence, and cultivate a positive sense of identity. Children who have undergone the Wolf Trap approach to arts-integrated learning were found to outperform their counterparts in being confident and self-aware to take initiative. 

As our Singapore-Wolf Trap Teaching Artists guide preschool educators to use proven and effective arts-integrated teaching techniques with their young learners, a kind of magic happens in the classroom... 

Children move their bodies to express themselves. 

“I have this girl in my class who is very shy and quiet and needs prompts whenever we are having circle time. Now, she uses movements when expressing her feelings and even changes her voice when talking or sharing her ideas and thoughts.”

- Preschool teacher from our classroom residency 

In a Singapore-Wolf Trap classroom, children get to use their bodies to enact scenarios and express their feelings about the world they live in. For instance, during a lesson about deforestation, the children were introduced to Forest Ranger Jean, a character invented by our Teaching Artist. They were then guided to follow the movements of Forest Ranger Jean and their teacher to mime entering an imaginary forest – lifting their feet to ‘walk through mud’, stretching out their hands to ‘scale a boulder’, leaning forward as they ‘cross a river’ -- and shared their experiences of what they saw, touch, smell, hear, taste and how they felt. The children were observed to be fully immersed in the mime, actively contributed to what they experienced in the forest, and were committed to the process. 

Children fire up their imaginations to create solutions. 

“I was amazed that the children were able to think outside of the box already. Previously, when using their bodies to create frozen image[s], or using their imagination to think of something, most of the children were having a hard time. But recently, most of the children were more confident in using their imagination to think of solutions to problems found around them.” 

- Preschool teacher from our classroom residency 

‘How do we help a lion climb up a tall tree? What’s the problem faced by the lion and how do we solve it?’ When children were given this situation in a Singapore-Wolf Trap lesson, they improvised and started lining up next to each other to create a human ladder! ‘Play the problem, show the solution’ is a mantra that guides the Singapore-Wolf Trap classroom. 

Children find their voice. 

“I have a child who is usually quiet. And during session 5, he raised up his hand and expressed his idea verbally. I was so proud of that moment because I know that the child was able to develop his confidence.”

- Preschool teacher from our classroom residency 

In a Singapore-Wolf Trap classroom, performing arts best practices are used to engage children in joyful, active learning of Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) curriculum topics. For instance, during a lesson about the life cycles of insects, children were guided by their teacher and our Teaching Artist to create a series of tableaux of a butterfly’s life. The children were observed to offer many creative yet valid suggestions while taking turns to speak up, taking initiative to share their thoughts on what the different stages of the butterfly’s life were – as a leaf-eating caterpillar, a scrunched-up cocoon, and finally as a glorious butterfly finally breaking free. Through the drama activity, the teacher noted that the children significantly developed confidence and mindfulness when sharing their ideas. 

It is immensely satisfying to see children grow in confidence and self-awareness through drama, music, and dance – helping them understand themselves and develop a positive sense of who they are in relation to their peers, family, and the community along the journey of lifelong learning. Thank you to our preschool educators and organisation partners for trusting us with the process and joining the Singapore-Wolf Trap community! 

* Just in 2023, of the preschool educators whom we surveyed after their Singapore Wolf Trap classroom residencies, close to 80% report seeing an increase in self-awareness and confidence in their young learners.  

Published on: 28-03-2024