Incorporating the arts is proven by research to enhance the educational experience for children. Subjects like theater can develop more kind, empathetic, hard-working, and self-assured students.
Teacher and speech therapist Paulette Chaffee finds that incorporating theater into a child’s education can teach essential tools for success in school and life. Here, she shares six ways children’s theater benefits the students who participate:
Theater classes help students embrace creative decision-making. From creating characters to practicing improvisation, students who take drama classes exercise their creativity and imagination on multiple levels.
For example, when planning to perform a play based on a novel or movie, theater kids have to creatively translate scenes to a live stage that communicates a clear message. This type of creative thinking exposes children to the skill of shifting their perspective to see the world from different angles.
The National Theatre (NT) in London discovered that students who participated in theater classes increased their self-esteem compared to their peers who did not attend theater courses.
Building confidence at a young age can be a constant battle, especially for those who tend to be shyer. Experiencing theater class is an excellent way for students to elevate their self-esteem as it teaches boldness, assertiveness, and how to be themselves in a group setting.
When acting in a play in front of an audience, actors and actresses have to confidently portray a character. This confidence is translated into a child’s life and schooling.
Quick thinking is a skill that is highly valued inside and outside of the classroom. This mental ability is fostered through various activities that children experience in theater class.
For example, when practicing improvisation, theater students must act instantly following specific scenarios or others’ actions and reactions. Acting and flowing with others so instantaneously strengthens the ability to think on one’s toes.
In addition, when students face trouble on stage when a live audience is watching, quick thinking is a way to help the show go on smoothly, so smoothly that the audience never catches a mistake or off-scripted moment when it takes place.
Theater class requires students to practice speaking in front of an audience loud enough for everyone to hear and clearly enough to communicate a message.
Children in theater learn to normalize feelings of anxiety, experiencing it together when nervousness sets in before a show or conquering it with continuous practice and excitement for what they are doing.
Learn Teamwork’s Value
Theater class is never a one-person show, and students have to learn how to flow and work with one another to execute a successful performance or practice session.
A scene acting with others requires collaboration, reliance on one another, and attention to others’ actions and words. The value of teamwork comes to life in a theater class when a child might forget a line, and a team is there to help.
Sharpen Communication Skills
Reading scripts, communicating different characters’ personalities through language and tone, and speaking clearly and loudly for all to hear, no matter the size of the audience, are all theater activities that positively contribute to sharpening a student’s communication skills.
In addition, the art of acting is verbal and physical, as body language plays a significant role in a successful theater performance.
About Paulette Chaffee
Paulette Chaffee is a teacher, speech therapist, and attorney deeply involved in the Fullerton community. As an educator and member of various non-profit boards, her focus has always been on providing children with the highest quality education.
Ms. Chaffee holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands, a California Lifetime Teaching Credential, and is admitted to the California Bar.