Martha Lamont: ‘Drama makes my brain healthy’: An inquiry into the potential for using drama to enhance the social skills of young children with special educational needs

This paper identifies the social challenges facing young children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream classrooms, and explores and recommends drama in education (DiE) to enhance their social skills.

This paper identifies the social challenges facing young children with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream classrooms, and explores and recommends drama in education (DiE) to enhance their social skills. This study specifically investigates the role of ‘mantle of the expert’ (MOE) in providing an effective intervention for children with SEN in mainstream infant classrooms. The drama intervention (‘Simon’s Space Race’) implemented consisted of ten progressive lessons. The study aims to investigate the impact of drama-based learning, using MOE, on the children’s social skills. The literature search investigated current early childhood education frameworks and inclusive models of education in Ireland and internationally, explored young children’s social skills development, and examined the use of DiE, and MOE for teaching young children and children with SEN. The study concluded that DiE can have a positive impact on the social development of children with and without SEN in the mainstream infant classroom.

Martha Lamont is a Primary School Teacher from Dublin, Ireland. Martha recently completed the M.Ed in Drama in Education in The University of Dublin, Trinity College (2015-2017). She completed her B.A in Sociology and French in 2006 (University of Dublin, Trinity College) and holds a Higher Diploma in Primary Teaching (Froebel College of Education, Ireland) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Special Education (HETAC). Martha has been working as a classroom teacher and resource teacher for ten years, and has taught in primary schools in Ireland, Australia and England. Her research interests include arts education, drama for children with special educational needs and early childhood education. Martha has volunteered with Aspire Educational Drama Classes, run in conjunction with Trinity College and organised under the direction of Dr. Carmel O’Sullivan of the School of Education, and has taught afterschool drama to children with special educational needs in her local community.

Laura Dean (Associate Director)
Laura is a keen advocate for the Arts in Education. A graduate of the Comparative and International Education MA program at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA, USA), Laura’s research interests revolve around how Arts subjects, and Theatre in particular, can play a crucial role to the development of a student’s social and emotional well-being, whilst bolstering their academic attainment. Having lived in numerous places around the world, and worked to support international students in a university setting, Laura is interested in supporting global Education policy. With an avid interest in Theatre & Performance, she is delighted to be bringing her two passions together to lead on Dialogue’s Community Performance for Education work.