I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published June 19th 2012
Perth's Top Courses for Clever Kids
Creativity is sometimes likened to a fire burning brightly. In the same way that a tiny ember ignites to become a flame, and then, if there is sufficient fuel for it to devour, a blazing fire, radiating heat and light, so it is with the creative spirit which is inherent within every human being. This is especially apparent with young children who are so receptive to the wonders of the world, and who express with great poignantly their thoughts and feelings in whatever media is available to them. As the development of a tiny seedling is dependent upon the availability of water, warm sunlight and nutrients in the soil, so also, our children's creativity can only bloom when it is nourished through high quality resources and stimulating instruction.
Here in Perth we're very fortunate to have access to a wide variety of courses and other tuition. For youngsters, everyday life is a learning experience: a source of constant fascination and delight. However, special courses taught by individuals who are knowledgeable in their field widens their range of sensory experiences and expands their capacity to express the thoughts, feelings and ideas which arise in response.
The following courses are some of the best which Perth has to offer and encompass a wide range of fields including the visual arts, music, drama, dance, film-making and nature studies. While some of them aren't cheap, they're a worthy investment in a child's future, and in many cases, can provide the foundation for a satisfying career or hobby later in life.
Based at Scotch College, Swanbourne, Early Learning through Music is a dynamic pre-instrumental music program for young children aged from birth to 7 years. The teachers guiding the program have completed degrees in music education as well as the Kodaly certificate of music education. Since the program is for very young children, it's essential that a parent or another caregiver is in attendance with the child.
The 50 minute classes are held every week, and follow a sequence which corresponds to children's specific stages of development. Musical sensitivity and appreciation is fostered through a variety of activities during the class which include movement, dance, song and play.
For more information about this wonderful program, check out the ELM website.
Situated in Sydney, the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (better known as NIDA) is often considered to be Australia's most prestigious college of performing arts, offering a wide range of courses which prepare graduates for a career in theatre, film, television and / or radio. Amongst the college's alumni are many of Australia's most well-known actors including Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Sam Worthington.
However, in addition to the Institute's famous graduate program, they also run short courses, as well as a special youth program in cities and towns all around Australia. In 2012, NIDA will be offering a selection of short courses in Perth and Bunbury from the 10th to the 22nd of July.
Venue: Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, Allan Road, Gelorup.
Drama School (8-11 years and 12-15 years)
This four-day workshop presents basic performance skills such as improvisation, voice and movement, and gives the students ample opportunity to devise and rehearse scenes. A performance for family and friends concludes the course.
Dates - 10 to 13 July (Tues-Fri)
Cost - $445 (Earlybird $395)
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre, Hammersley Road, Subiaco.
Drama School (8-11 years and 12-15 years)
This five-day workshop presents basic performance skills such as improvisation, voice and movement, and gives the students ample opportunity to devise and rehearse scenes. A performance for family and friends concludes the course.
Dates - 16 to 20 July (Mon-Fri)
Cost - $555 (Earlybird $495)
Acting Boot Camp (8-11 years)
This is a two-day intensive which builds skills in improvisation, character and scene work.
Dates – 21 to 22 July (Sat-Sun)
Cost - $260 (Earlybird $240)
Screen Acting Boot Camp (12-15 years)
For kids in their early teens, this two-day intensive focuses on some of the skills which are required to work in film. Course participants get to see themselves on the big screen, and experiment with scene work, both improvised and scripted.
Dates – 21 to 22 July (Sat-Sun)
Cost - $260 (Earlybird $240)
There are also workshops for participants 16 years and over which focus on various topics including audition essentials, screen acting techniques and screen acting essentials. For more information about NIDA's Western Australian programs, check out their webpage.
Based in a rustic, convict-built structure at Bathers' Beach, Fremantle, the Kidago Arthouse offers a wonderful selection of art classes for budding young artisans aged from 5 to 11 years, as well as numerous courses for the grown-ups. The courses offered by the Institute encompass a variety of creative media including drawing, painting (both acrylic and watercolour), sculpture, print-making and / or mixed media, and are all taught by professional artists. In addition, the Institute's beach-front location and beautiful views will definitely stimulate your child's creative potential. At the moment, courses are only being offered during school holidays (on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 12.30pm), but next year after-school classes will also be available.
Kidago courses are also available at the following locations: the Western Australian Museum in Perth Cultural Centre, Perth Zoo and Subiaco Arts Centre. For more information about the Kidago Institute, have a look at their website.
Affiliated with the Australian School of Performing Arts, the Australian Girls Choir is often considered to be the country's leading performing arts organisation for girls. It is open to any girl 5 years or more who loves to sing, and at the moment boasts membership of approximately 3 900 young choristers around Australia.
Based on age, there are two groups: the junior Australian Girls Choir for littlies under eight years old and the Australian Girls Choir for those who are eight years or over. Initial classes include an enjoyable mixture of song, dance and play, while those students who excel often go on to perform at some of Australia's most prestigious events, on television and on various tours, both nationally and overseas.
These performances have included in the past singing at the receptions of President Barak Obama and Queen Elizabeth II at Parliament House in Canberra, a UNICEF benefit concert at the Hanoi Opera House in Vietnam and the Shanghai World Expo. However, in Australia the choir is probably most famous from the Qantas 'I Still Call Australia Home' advertising campaigns in which the girls performed in various spectacular locations around the world such as a Massai village in Africa and amongst the Terracotta Warriors in China.
However, even if your daughter's choral career doesn't reach such dizzy heights, she'll make new friends, learn new skills and have a wonderful time, as a member of the Australian Girls Choir.
Here in Perth, The Australian Girls Choir holds classes at two locations: Glengarry Primary School at Duncraig and Perth Modern School in Subiaco. A free trial class is available at your local venue. More information can be found at the Australian Girls Choir website
Nearer to Nature is an initiative of the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and coordinates interactive, nature-based activities at various national parks and reserves around the Perth metro area. With suburbia expanding at an unprecedented rate, and our modern lifestyle so far removed from the natural world, Nearer to Nature provides a valuable role in educating the public and especially the younger generation, about the environment.
Although there are activities for older people and the whole family, the vast majority of those which are offered by Nearer to Nature are for little people. While some of the activities involve simply learning about nature (in a fun, dynamic way), many also include a craft activity or enjoyable game which is related to the topic at hand, and which will hopefully reinforce the learning which has taken place. For example, as well as learning a lot of cool facts in the Mighty Megafauna activity, children also learn to play a 'Dying for Shelter' game, whereas participants in Coolangar Dreaming get to decorate a boomerang and make their own bush jewellery after they learn about the rich cultural traditions of the local Nyoongar people.
The activities offered by Nearer to Nature are truly wonderful as through participating in them children can better appreciate that learning really is fun, and cultivate a better appreciation of our amazing Western Australian environment. Although activities are conducted in various locations, many are based at the Perth Hills Centre (Nearer to Nature's headquarters) in the Beelu National Park, near Mundaring Weir. The centre includes a wonderful camping ground, so you can enhance your family's nature experience by staying 'on-site' for a few days. For more information, check out the Nearer to Nature website.
Address: Allen Road, Mundaring (just off Mundaring Weir Road).
Ph: 08 9295 2244.
Majkidz @ His Majesty's Theatre
Majkidz is a wonderful program for children aged between 9 and 12, which is presented by His Majesty's Theatre in conjunction with the Barking Gecko Theatre Company. With regular workshops held in the historic theatre (beginning in March and extending until December), it offers creative children the unique opportunity to produce a live theatre piece, and thus gain invaluable behind-the-scene knowledge and experience in all aspects of the art, including acting, production, costume, masks, puppetry, choreography, stage design, lighting, and much more.
Unlike other courses in the performing arts which generally focus on acting or dance, Majkidz provides valuable tuition and experience for children with a wider range of theatrical interests. Since the program begins early in the year and extends throughout it, there is only one intake of students so, if your child is interested, it's best to apply the previous year to avoid disappointment. For more information, see the website for His Majesty's Theatre.
Further details can also be provided by Jenna Mathie on 08 9265 0954 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now surrounded by suburbia, Liddelow Homestead in Kenwick was originally built in the late nineteenth century, and was the centre of a prosperous farm. These days the property serves as a community arts centre, Liddelow Homestead Arts and Crafts Club, where a wide variety of courses are held. There is also a cute little gift shop which sells a beautiful selection of hand-made goodies. Every Saturday a children's pottery class is held from 9am to 12noon. For more information about this class, contact Kathrine Britton on 0403 324 164.
To find out more about Liddelow Homestead Arts and Crafts Club, check out their website.
Address: 7 Cooper Ave, Kenwick
Ph: 08 9459 7228
Initiated by the Art Gallery of Western Australia in conjunction with other Perth arts organisations, Collaborart aims to encourage young people to actively participate in the arts. In order to enhance children's appreciation of the current major exhibition at the Gallery, 'From Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters', Collaborart is coordinating several cool activities at various venues around the city.
For example, from July 12-14, children aged from 5 to 17 will be able to participate in creating a 'Cubist Roomscape' (redesigning one of the Art Gallery of Western Australia's rooms to resemble a Cubist art-work), under the supervision of artist Amanda Lin, and on July 11 and 18 at 10am there will be workshops for children (aged 5 to 17) in collage and sculpture at the nearby Central Institute of Technology. In addition, there will be children's workshops in textile art, offered by Fibrant, and in digital film composition with artist, Laura Hopwood. For more information on all these workshops, check out this webpage.
Fremantle art Centre
Situated in a spectacularly gothic old pile which was originally commissioned as the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and Invalid Depot in 1864, the Fremantle Art Centre is a hot-bed for all that is creative. In addition to its comprehensive selection of visual arts courses for adults, the Centre also offers a good range for children of all ages. Like the adult classes, those for children are taught by professional artists and art teachers, who have the talent and professional expertise to properly mentor their young charges.
During school holidays, and sometimes during school terms (on the weekends and after school), a wide range of classes are available including drawing, painting, beading, sculpture, book-making, animation, acting, song-writing / recording, ceramics, fashion-design, textile arts, mask-making , photography, and much, much more. Three different age-groups are catered for: younger kids (5-8 years old), older kids (9-12 years), and teenagers (13-18 years).
In addition, since Fremantle Art Centre is such an amazing place, while the children attend their classes, there is plenty to keep parents and care-givers occupied, such as exhibitions in the galleries, a gift-shop jam-packed with hand-crafted products made by local artisans, and a cafe.
For more information about the children's courses at Fremantle Art Centre, check out their website.
In conclusion, there are a lot of terrific courses for children here in Perth, and the above list is simply the tip of the iceberg. Others which I haven't had the time to research are held at City Farm, The Katharine Susannah Prichard Writer's Centre, the Fremantle Film and Television Institute and the Fremantle Writer's Centre. Finally, look out in your local newspaper and parenting magazines for upcoming courses in your local area.