The Importance of Children's Movies - passionforlanguage

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Aug 6 2016
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The Importance of Children’s Movies

Frozen characters inspire children to be creative, write, draw and sing!
Frozen – inspiring children to be creative – writing, drawing and singing!

With dozens of movie theatres around the city, there is more than enough opportunity in Hong Kong to take your child out to enjoy a film. Not only is it a convenient way to keep children occupied for a couple of hours, sitting down with young children to watch a great movie can do wonders for their creativity. Take Frozen for example; if you have a young child, you’ll know the effect it has had: it certainly captures their imagination! And it’s not just new movie blockbusters! The old classics shouldn’t be forgotten: Mary Poppins and Cinderella are timeless, continuing to captivate young audiences.


But what is it exactly about movies that are so great for fostering children’s creativity? Let’s take fantasy movies for a first example. No matter how old or young, Hong Kong children absolutely love Pixar and Disney creations. From the classics like The Lion King to recent releases such as Frozen and Up, kids can’t get enough of these fantastical creations. With animals that talk and converse like people, princesses with magical powers and houses that lift off into the air with the aid of a few thousand balloons, these films don’t just entertain, but provide a chance for children to truly explore the scope of their own imaginations. We often hear parents complain that Hong Kong schools don’t focus enough on creativity and that new technology is preventing children from engaging their imagination. This may be true, but these fantastic movies are bound to ignite a sense of adventure and what’s more they can serve as stimuli for endless creative writing tasks!


Perhaps your child will love to write a creative alternative ending to their favourite Disney film? Or maybe a simple character analysis will be made all the more exciting if it centres around their favourite Disney princess or villain? With model essays and story writing often appearing dull and formulaic, creative writing is bound to be that bit more enjoyable if children can make connections to their favourite films!


Mulan encourages children to learn more about history and culture
Mulan – an inspiring story of bravery and courage

What’s more, in light of the UK government’s debate on GCSE literature and the removal of non-British literature from the English curriculum, including doing away with the classic American drama Of Mice and Men , we insist that education must provide a global perspective. In today’s world, it is imperative that children gain a sound knowledge of global themes, inside and outside of the classroom; why would we want to restrict this? In our experience, movies can provide the perfect fun and engaging introduction into cultural, historical and political contexts.  A great example is the animated, musical Disney film Mulan . Based on an ancient Chinese legendary figure, Hua Mulan, dating back to the 6th century, this film, with it’s strong and loveable characters is sure to enliven an interest in Chinese history and culture.  Not only can movies take children on a captivating journey back in time, exploring different cultures in a multi sensorial way, they also carry strong messages and moral lessons! One of Mulan’s most memorable themes, is the subversion of gender stereotypes. Not only does Mulan cut her hair and join an army full of men, she ends up saving the prince! This go-getting attitude is surely something for children to aspire to! and the message that being a girl should not hold you back is timeless! Other strong protagonists include: Brave ’s Princess Merida, Maleficent, and of course Elsa from Frozen! And these are just from Disney! Delve deeper and you will be surprised by the number of inspiring characters from contemporary children’s movies: Po from Kung Fu Panda, Hugo from the 2011 blockbuster Hugo and Gregoria and Ingrid from Spy Kids, to name but a few.


As for great literary adaptations: well-known movie characters such as Harry, Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter series, Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Annie, from Annie have all successfully made the leap from well-loved book characters to international screen stars. And what sets these films apart? They all have well-developed plots and inspiring characters with real life emotions and feelings. Kids movies have come a long way; in terms of animation and production, they have become true masterpieces. To be able to  relate to a character they see on the screen is very important. This gives children a sense of confidence when it comes to expressing their inner emotions and worries: if their favourite movie character has worries and fears, your child is likely to feel more comfortable in expressing their own troubles.


Movies can inspire creativity
Watching films together as a family is a great way to relax, and children can learn more about difficult topics such as puberty, friendships and relationships.

Movies can be a comfort to children and, for parents, movies can provide an easy way to broach a tricky or sensitive subject. Watching certain family films can be the encouragement children need to discuss issues that may otherwise be steered clear of! Themes such as romantic relationships, friendship, bullying, puberty, as well as family breakdown can all be found in children’s movies, allowing parents an easier way to approach conversations that children may find awkward or shy away from. And when movies lead to discussion, this can work to strengthen children’s communication skills, their level of language, as well as their problem-solving and general coping skills. After watching a movie, we recommend parents follow with an open discussion of what they have seen. Being able to summarise, recount and discuss a plot is an important skill for life as well as all-important examinations! Movies will provide a fun way of developing this skill- and they won’t even realise you have this goal in mind!


However, of course we’re not saying that all children’s movies hold such benefits! Sadly, certain children’s movies leave much to be desired, especially in terms of their educational, and creative value. Parents often find themselves faced with a selection of uninspiring, dull, and badly produced movies to choose from, making the decision process all the more tricky. From shabby sequels such as The Smurfs 2 and Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, to badly produced comedies like Escape From Planet Earth, released 2013, it’s sometimes hard to find any redeeming features to such movies, let alone scope for inspiration.


To conclude, personal development is, of course, a lifelong journey. From our earliest years to late adulthood, we continue to learn, change and develop, as we discover more about ourselves and the world around us. We believe that movies can be an integral part of this growth. From toddlers to teenagers, children begin to question what they see, and movies provide the perfect stimulus for a child’s burgeoning curiosity as well as the perfect time for family and friends to spend valuable time together. So, make sure that your child takes time out of their busy Hong Kong schedule to watch a movie; it may just be as beneficial as any other educational activity they take part in!