Can introducing drama activities to nursery children offer a more structured approach to play, aiding cognitive development and creativity?
This research reflects on the process of introducing drama activities to nursery children with a view to promoting a structured approach to play, aiding cognitive development and creativity within the nursery setting. The study was conducted in separate phases within two nurseries in Edinburgh. The first consisted of three practical drama workshops incorporating aspects of Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert and Teacher in Role approaches to drama, which supports The Curriculum for Excellence’s Drama Experiences and Outcomes for Early Level (Education Scotland 2017). The second phase involved observations of the children as they engaged in free-flow play to ascertain whether ideas from the drama workshops had been brought into this play, and if cognitive development and creativity had been enhanced through this approach. Each session focused on a different topic which was influenced by the children’s current interests. The data was gathered through observations, and opportunities were given for the nursery practitioners to express their professional opinion through feedback sessions and interviews throughout the process. The study discovered that using drama with nursery children can have a positive benefit to their approach to play. By employing aspects of Dorothy Heathcote’s techniques children can express the ways they understand their world in a creative manner and build on their confidence, collaboration and language skills. Observing children’s play and working on topics relevant to their interests, prompted their involvement. However, the drama workshop structure was a new experience for the children and although there was some benefit to this approach, the long-term benefits of the study were not measurable in this timeframe.