Abby Connors : Ten Ways Improvisation Helps Children Learn
Ten Ways Improvisation Helps Children Learn
By Abby Connors
My favorite line in "Toy Story 3" comes when one of a group of toys explains to a newcomer, "We do a lot of improv here." That's exactly what play is: creative improvisation.
Sometimes children play with toys in seemingly repetitive "plots," whether it's good guys versus bad guys or dolls having a tea party, but there's always a measure of improvisation involved as they create new characters, new dialogue, new sets, even new story lines.
Children are constantly improvising, not only in play, but in language, singing, playing instruments, dance and movement, and art, and it helps them learn in ways that we as teachers and parents should be aware of.
One: Improvisation helps children integrate concepts and make them their own. They may hear the word "wiggly," and even watch something wiggly, but if they move like a wiggly worm, they understand the concept in a more meaningful way. Standing as straight as a "candle on a birthday cake" helps them feel what the concept of "straight" means and integrate it into their thinking.
Three: When young children improvise, they become instantly involved and engaged in a learning task, whether improvising a way to keep the beat of a song, or improvising a voice for a character in an acted-out story.
Five: Improvisation reinforces to children the idea that learning is fun and gratifying in itself.
Seven: Improvisational activities give children practice in respecting and appreciating others' work. In my experience, children are tremendously interested in observing and listening to their classmates' ideas.
Nine: Individual students' improvisations can help teachers to identify students' strengths and weaknesses in order to plan meaningful individualized instruction. In particular, we can often observe a student's abilities and strengths through improvisations that we would not have been able to learn through more formal learning activities.
© 2011 Abby Connors. All rights reserved.
Abby Connors is an early childhood music educator, author, and presenter. Her books include “101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children”, “Teaching Creativity”, and “The Musical Toddler.” More »