Get Festivals on the National Curriculum!

Pitta Bread making workshop – complete with Bedouin history lesson

What can kids learn from their festival experience?

People often ask me why I take my children to festivals. Sometimes I get the distinct impression that they think I am just dragging them along to something I enjoy and they have no choice but to put up with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. The overriding reason we go as a family is because we ALL enjoy it.  The kids don’t endure it – they actively look forward to it. But when I reflect on why I am so keen to support their love of festivals, it comes down to the benefits I perceive them to be getting.

There is so much opportunity for learning in the festival environment – so much going on in a very concentrated area and space of time. I tried to link these to traditional educational themes and was surprised at how easy it was to make a case for the educational benefits of festivals. A 5-minute brainstorm gave me the following, but given a little more time I’m sure the list would be far more comprehensive, and I would love you to add your thoughts as comments.

PSHE (Personal Social and Health Education) – self expression, cultures, keeping clean and festival hygiene, self reliance, independence, community spirit, social responsibility, bushcraft survival skills…

Geography – other cultures, world music, talks on origins of musical styles / dances / food / literature, weather conditions…

Science – textures and qualities of different materials such as clay, paint and dyes, understanding acoustics, weather patterns, cookery, environmental issues…

English – Literature – spoken word (poetry, story telling), writer’s workshops, song writing…

Drama – theatre, film, performance skills, audience participation, dressing-up according to themes… there are often children’s open mic opportunities too which do wonders for self-confidence.

Contributing to the communal mural

Art – on site art installations, hands-on arts and craft workshops, creativity…

History – some festivals are set in the grounds of historic buildings…

Music – where else do children get the opportunity to see such a wide variety of instruments being played live?! Also drumming workshops, ukulele workshops, instrument making, digeridoo, singing… and of course all the music history and cultural themes…

Physical and Outdoor Education – circus skills, dance workshops, yoga, putting up tents, living outdoors, bushcraft, woodcraft…

Authorised absences:

So if you are struggling to get authorisation for absence during term-time, consider writing a letter to your Head teacher or local council stating specific educational benefits available to children at the particular event you are going to.  Most people who have never been to a good family-friendly workshop oriented festival tend to have a very narrowminded view of what is on offer and all sorts of negative preconceptions gained from watching documentaries on Woodstock!  If you can explain clearly the educational value of what is on offer then I am hopeful that you will get a much warmer reception!

Please add to this post by way of comments, especially if you are an education professional or a parent.

Further Reading:

Taking children out of school for Festivals

What do children learn at a Festival? (Early Years – EYFS)


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