Christmas is such a magical time of the year in schools, with the excitement and anticipation of the season bringing a feeling of unity and belonging – and the nativity play is a huge part of the excitement.
Performing on stage can bring many children out of their shells and give them an enormous sense of achievement, boosting their self-confidence and teaching them valuable life lessons about dealing with nerves, working in a team and standing up in front of an audience – essential skills for now and for later life.
The pandemic brought a big disruption to Christmas 2020, and according to a survey from TeacherTapp only 5% of schools in the UK put on a live nativity play. As we draw closer to Christmas 2021, many schools are determined to go ahead with their Christmas traditions this year, and I believe it is vital for us to give children a special Christmas – here are five reasons why I think putting on a nativity is so important:
- It fosters pupil wellbeing and social inclusion across the age groups
Nativities are such a good opportunity for school communities to take pride in the communal effort they’ve put in. Singing, speaking and performing in front of an audience is something that children often first experience as part of the annual nativity. If this first experience is a positive one, then it can really be life-changing for them moving forward.
The retelling of essentially the same nativity story through the years is a great way to link all the age groups together and enable them to learn from one another: the younger children can be inspired by watching the older ones, and the older ones can enjoy supporting their younger counterparts. What was lost last year can be reclaimed this year, in turn bringing a sense of celebration and empowerment for all involved.
- It builds teamwork and camaraderie
Children seeing their grown-ups or friends in the audience with big smiles on their faces is a massive encouragement and can be a memory that sticks. Plus, the teamwork involved in putting on the production really helps build a sense of community spirit. Many schools and pupils missed out on the opportunity to perform a nativity last year, due to the pandemic, and so this year will feel like an opportunity to regain ground.
Our team at Out of the Ark Music includes experienced songwriters, editors and teachers, and with each nativity published, it’s clear to see that the material only comes to life when the passion, commitment and camaraderie of the teachers and children comes into play. A great nativity requires teamwork and effort from all involved and in the process creates something magical!
- It further emphasises how schools are resilient
Over the last 18 months, schools have learned to adapt in the face of the moving goalposts and health concerns of Covid-19. In an ever-changing landscape, it’s clear to see the resilience of teachers, children and parents alike.
At the drop of a hat, we have seen schools accommodate lockdowns, remote learning, bubbles and more absences than ever before. Putting on a nativity this year will be another glowing example of that resilience, and one that will celebrate all that has gone before.
- It is (mostly) stress free
If you are working with different bubbles, this need be no barrier to putting on one nativity between them. Nativities can be split into sections or scenes that can be performed or filmed by separate groups and pieced together easily on a readily available platform such as iMovie.
The filming aspect could present new opportunities for children who would prefer to work on production rather than on stage, and they could be responsible for preparing and charging the recording equipment, setting it up and monitoring it all during the performance. What a wonderful opportunity to produce a well-thought-through video keepsake of your nativity musical this year.
- It can provide diverse opportunities for creativity
Whether you’re looking for something traditional or modern, for a big cast or a small one, for a whole school or just your early years’ classes, nativities can suit all schools. And if you’re not singing yet in school, this needn’t be the reason for not putting on a nativity. You can choreograph actions to songs or get your percussion instruments out and create suitable accompaniments.
Enjoy practicing sign-language skills – signing along to the songs offers an alternative to singing and is a great way to introduce children to some simple signs. Or even create socially distanced dances and routines to describe the action.
There has never been a better time to give your nativity a makeover and present it in a slightly different way, providing the children with greater and more diverse opportunities. 2021 is surely the year to create an even more exciting and memorable nativity experience than ever before and celebrate the joy of Christmas together.