Friends of mine today look at me as if I am crazy when I explain how shy I was as a child. I used to love going to drama school on Saturdays but would hide in the toilets for 2 hours in-between classes as was too self-conscious to sit in the canteen. And when 12-year-old Russell, my first crush, walked into the room I would be so overwhelmed with anxiety I would run past him so he couldn’t see me and once actually fell down the stairs!
But my confidence when on stage was larger than life. Having been cast as the ugly duckling at the age of 6 I knew this was something I loved doing. But it took time for me to develop my confidence and self-esteem in everyday life. Even now as an adult, with a successful social enterprise and a wonderful social life I still feel a little bit of social anxiety if I have to go to an event by myself and don’t know anybody else there. But doesn’t everybody dread that feeling of the unknown? However, my drama school training has certainly given me the confidence to walk into that room with my head held high.
And I am positive that it is the drama school training that I had as a child that helped me develop the skills I needed to feel more confident in social settings and help me with networking opportunities to further my career.
As children all over the country are getting ready for the new term I am guessing most of them will be having mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness. Even the most confident of children will no doubt be apprehensive if they are having to go to a new school without the company of most of their friends.
As a parent, it must break your heart having to see your child deal with social settings if they are incredibly shy or anxious. They don’t have the choice to stay at home and hide away from the classroom. Which is just as well as they, as we all know, are going to have to deal with social settings throughout their lives. And developing their confidence and self-esteem from as young an age as possible is one of the best gifts you can give them.
Having worked with young people for the past 27 years I have witnessed the transformative effects performing arts has on developing confidence and self-esteem. Not only that, but it helps develop overall well-being and the ability to develop compassion for other human beings. Last year I was ecstatic when the Fiorentini School won a National Lottery and Big Lottery Fund bid to deliver anti-bullying performing arts classes to local schools. They obviously understood the positive impact performing arts can have. According to the Annual Bullying Survey 2017, of the young people that have been bullied in the last year 37% developed social anxiety, 36% developed depression, 24% had suicidal thoughts and 21% skipped class. The Fiorentini School is committed to changing these statistics.
Learning to be disciplined in a fun and supportive environment while learning new skills and having the opportunity to show off these new skills can do wonders for a child’s development. And of course, it greatly increases their chances of employability. Most employers know that if a young person has engaged with the performing arts on some level they would have developed their public speaking, presentation and debating skills. And if more confident they are likely to be more friendly and approachable making them a good team member; the number one priority of most employer’s checklist!
It is also a known fact that those students that have a creative outlet during the exam revision period, more often than not achieve higher exam results.
The Anna Fiorentini School prides itself on enhancing confidence, self-esteem, life skills, aspirations, public speaking, negotiating skills, punctuality and discipline in its young students.
I have been passionate about providing arts education to children for over 27 years now because I believe that through the arts we can teach the adults of tomorrow how to communicate effectively, present themselves professionally and respond appropriately to constructive discipline. I have been told on numerous occasions that students that attend my school have improved greatly in their academic studies as a result.