How we deliver the arts within our STEAM themed curriculum
Alison Melrose, Headmistress at Prince’s Gardens Preparatory School
You may have heard the terms STEAM and STEM often when talking about your child’s curriculum, but what do these terms really mean in the classroom?
You may have heard the terms STEAM and STEM often when talking about your child’s curriculum, but what do these terms really mean in the classroom? STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and maths and the additional A covers not just art, but more broadly, the arts.
Sparking children’s imagination is a key part of a STEAM curriculum, supporting hands-on activities, independent learning, and investigative activities. The four C’s; collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking; are often referred to within curriculum design. They help prepare our children for the future by developing softer skills, are integrated throughout every aspect of school life and a STEAM education, and are easily interwoven into our arts programmes.
Many people may think that the arts is a term which refers to just paints and coloured pencils, but it covers art and design as well as music, dance, drama and debating.
The Music Room
Music is often at the heart of any Preparatory school and here at Prince’s Gardens we have developed an exciting music curriculum that places instrument learning and singing at the heart of the classroom journey. Dedicated instrument lessons with whole-class teaching mean our children are learning a variety of instruments from violins and recorders, to trumpets and drums, together. Not only do these lessons promote excellent listening skills but they are also key lessons for growing confidence and the ability to collaborate and perform together in recitals and concerts, a skill that will stand our children well when they move onto senior school. Music has many cross-curricular links with maths and language, with music being integrated into our language provision from Reception onwards.
Art and design lessons are not only about refining motor skills and creating pieces of art. Children learn how to think and act as artists and designers, work creatively and intelligently, and think critically about their work. They develop an appreciation of history and culture as well an understanding of how art has shaped our lives and links closely with maths and science. The use of digital technology is closely woven within the arts and none more so than within the art and design that takes place in our Makerspace. Our children grow up with the innate skills and understanding of how to use technology seamlessly within modern life.
Most recently our Prince’s Gardens learners have been designing and making sets using different materials and tools in our Makerspace. These sets will then be used by the children to film stop-motion animations. This project is the perfect opportunity to combine creative skills from art with the technological skills the children need to make these animations. Sparking children’s imagination is a key part of our STEAM curriculum; supporting hands-on activities, independent learning, and investigative activities as well as creating an interconnected curriculum and a dynamic learning environment where our children are encouraged to think critically and reflect meaningfully on their work.
Participation in the arts is also proven to have benefits beyond the art-room. The Cultural Learning Alliance has reported that learning through the arts can improve cognitive abilities such as reasoning skills, independent thinking and numeracy abilities, as well as support and improve learning in subjects such as maths, English and science.
As we prepare our pupils for our fast-paced world, we must also remember drama and debating. Drama not only develops self-confidence but also emotional intelligence and empathy. Having a strong moral compass is important and being able to explain and stand by your point of view within a debate is an essential skill. This is a skill that is supported further through studying the arts, as children are taught to think critically about both their work and others.
When children are assessed, as part of the application process at key transition points such as the 11+, schools are not only looking for academic achievement but also for the four C’s which are interwoven within the arts curriculum. Studying the arts helps our children prepare for the future, not only to collaborate, be creative, think critically and communicate but also to be adaptable, responsible, flexible and successful in the future.
The arts are all about discovery and problem solving, integrating principles and presenting learning, and by ensuring our children are using both the analytical and creative sides of the brain, we are developing the best thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.