Our children’s world is dynamic, changing, uncertain and constantly evolving. Professionals can barely keep up, let alone parents who are busy running around tending to their children’s needs. This is why empowerment is probably more important now than it ever was. But what exactly is empowerment and why is it important? Well, the word ’empowerment’ itself has several meanings. But for our purposes, we will consider this one; to enable or permit. Empowering children involves teaching and mentoring them in ways that encourages them to learn, grow and take responsibility for their actions independently and cooperatively.
What we need to realise is that empowerment in the 21st century cannot be confined to the classroom or home. For children to be fully prepared for the world, they need to be granted permission to experiment, create, and build. However, given the current schooling structure some children get left behind because they do not learn in the same way as their peers or have the same strengths or talents that the current schooling system celebrates.
Making the most of what you’ve already got.
This is why extracurricular activities are so important. They empower children to use their mind, body and spirit in ways that may not always be fostered in the classroom environment. Not because of lack of intention, but because of lack of resources, time and funding. For instance, there is years of research that shows the connection between learning to play piano (or any other musical instrument) and a child’s increased mathematical abilities. The scientific reason for this is because learning to play an instrument or a discipline like dance or sport, activates both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The brain, like any muscle in the body, gets stronger and stronger the more it is used and this opens the child’s mind, allowing them to solve problems in ways that they not have imagined before.
Dancing for self-improvement?
Sports, performing or martial arts also empower teamwork, mateship and build physical, emotional and mental strength. These disciplines foster a sense of focus, time management, organisation and responsibility: skills that will help a child their entire life. In the book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, Sir Ken Robinson shares the story of an English government funded initiative whose objective was to rehabilitate juveniles who committed crimes. These young people were sent to The Academy (a dance centre), to participate in a 12 week dance program. The first three weeks involved 25 hours a week of intensive dance training for the performance project. In the final week they professionally staged their work and performed it to the public at a theatre.
While many people were sceptical about the effect dance could have on a person’s regard for another’s property, the program was a huge success and many young people left with better focus, life purpose and improved respect for themselves, others and the community at large. Tara Jane Herbert, the artistic director of Dance United, attests that this is because dance training gave those young people the opportunity to actually think and then make an action. It taught them how to focus and direct their energy towards a goal. It empowered them to manage their energy and change the trajectory of their future.
The skills for a better future.
Empowering the future generation is the key focus of the Growing Minds program. Children will learn skills like goal setting, public speaking, debating, researching, leadership, relating to other people through cultural days and social behaviour studies, and much more. Any child who needs more stimulation and challenge can join the gifted and talented program which will cater for their level of aptitude. By involving your child in extracurricular activities, you are giving them the opportunity to become the remarkable adult they are destined to be.