So Much Drama

Kim Barnes, Head of Early Childhood at Greenhill, is our guest blogger this month. She offers her unique perspective on the value of “drama” and the young child.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have been witness to “a lot of drama” on campus – “drama” in the classroom, “drama” in the office, “drama” in the kitchen, and actually “drama” on the screen.

Drama was in the classroom as Mr. Browne-Nichols’ 4- to 6-year-olds acted out favorite stories from his Summer on the Hill camp. There were costumes, and, whether constructed in the classroom or brought from home, all became whatever was in the child’s imagination – and made the audience believe. During the “mini-scenes” presented, there were times of silence and loudness and times of silliness and seriousness. A fond memory of the last mini-scene demonstrated a bit of improv as one of the stars announced, “I have to go to the bathroom,” and instantly Mr. Browne became a mommy. Not only were children trying on costumes, they were trying on life.

Drama was also in the classroom as one day Silverlicious spread its spell over 6 and 7 year olds under the voices of Mrs. Baldwin and Mrs. Wells in their Summer on the Hill camp, Literature Live. With construction of foil necklaces, glittery crowns, silvery leashes for alligators, and sparkly letters to peacocks, these twelve children threw themselves into note writing and storytelling. Not only were children immersed in shiny silvery reflections, they were trying on words and language.

Drama was certainly evident in my office as first a gaggle (or giggle) of kindergarten princesses, all dressed up in crowns and scepters and fancy dresses, found animals to be friends (and boyfriends), flowers to use for bouquets, rocks for jewels, and autoharps and hand drums to serenade. Then a giggle of pre-kindergartners followed them a day or so later; they were still dressed in their fancy attire but this time used their wiles to kill the witch (wonder who that was) and work out who was going to say and wear what. Not only were the princesses using their imaginations, they were trying on new information about life built from previous knowledge and knowledge from others.

And drama was on the screen as I had the opportunity to view a short film on the ISAS Fine Arts Festival that was held in Albuquerque back in April and an event we will be hosting in March 2012. The film was produced by the daughter of Rhonda Durham, the ISAS Executive Director. Prominently displayed in the film was 2011 Greenhill School Senior, Eriq Robinson. Eriq has extraordinary creative talents, but every time I see him and a couple of other students in this class, all I can think of is the “trial.” It was November of 1998 and scientists had begun to debate whether Pluto was actually a planet. The “drama” was in Mrs. Williams’ kindergarten classroom as defense and prosecuting attorneys and jurors took their place under presiding Judge Ashley Levy to debate the fate of Pluto, and Eriq was right there in the midst of it all. Not only were these students pretending roles, they were researching and organizing information.

Drama (dramatic play) allows students to work out social situations and discover the world around them as they become whatever their imagination chooses. “Drama” abounds on this campus – and that’s a great thing.

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