PCA 2020

10 Reasons to Encourage Kids to Participate in Theatre

Parents know that some of their kids are more dramatic than others, so why not give your emotionally-expressive students an outlet by getting them involved in theatre? You likely already know if a child has a flair for the theatrical, and educational programs can offer kids benefits that are life-changing. When kids invest in drama education, it will exponentially enrich their lives in return. Theatre is an excellent creative outlet for multi-talented children as well as for kids who are unsure about their abilities.

Here are 10 reasons to encourage your child to participate in theatre:

1. They make new friends. Any successful theatre production is fueled by a constellation of interpersonal connections. If you have a shy or socially reticent child, theatre can be a great way to get them socially engaged. The all-hands-on-deck aspect of theatre can quickly overcome a hesitant participant. Before kids can say “William Shakespeare,” they will find themselves an appreciated part of the team.

2. 
They learn collaboration. Perhaps the greatest benefit of theatre is experiencing how each person’s contributions are crucial to mounting a successful show. Whether children are acting, singing and dancing, or bringing the show to life backstage, the show can only succeed with creative input from every member of the group. Collaboration is not only a helpful lesson for school, it’s also a valuable lesson for life.

3. 
Theatre inspires passion. Musicals are a cool part of culture, and theatre kids love learning as much as they can about Broadway, emerging actors, and the latest shows available to perform. Dramatic kids may feel like they have finally found an outlet where their flair for the dramatic serves a purpose once they are acting, singing and dancing for an audience.

4. 
They gain confidence. Theatre pulls kids out of themselves and gets them involved in something greater than themselves in ways that engage their minds, bodies, and emotions. The more kids perform, the bigger the confidence boost, which can carry over into the rest of their school experience.

5. 
Increases their emotional intelligence. My daughter’s theatre camp director always calls theatre “empathy training.” There is nothing like walking in another person’s shoes, saying their words, and imaging their thoughts and point of view to build thoughtfulness in kids. In a world where intolerance seems to be on the rise, empathy training seems like a crucial skill.

6. 
They appreciate culture. You might be surprised to learn how few high school students have been to a play or a musical. If you want your child to have a more cultured childhood than you did, attending shows is a great way to experience new worlds within driving distance. School theatre groups often take field trips to see shows and may even participate in talk-backs with the actors afterward.

7. 
Theatre builds community. There are few school activities that engage the extended community the way theatre does. Parent and family members can attend school shows, too. Having a flourishing theatre program in local schools can be a pride point for parents, the school district, and the community at large.

8. 
They experience contagious enthusiasm. If you have never witnessed the passion theatre kids have for bonding with each other as they mount a show, you and your child are in for a treat! For kids experiencing challenges at home, the theatre can become a secure home away from home. Ask any child who has just moved to a new school or who is trying to navigate their parents’ divorce if they would like to join a community of immersive learners, and they might be willing to try it.

9. Improves their communication skills. Skills like articulation, vocal projection, and emotional expression can help students ace future school and job interviews.

10. 
They enjoy school more. Theatre people are generally more diverse, tolerant, and inclusive. Compelling acting requires gesturing and projecting the voice to bring words on the page to life. If your child is having trouble fitting in or struggling to keep their grades up, encourage them to go see what’s happening in the performing arts hall. Theatre can become a great motivator for kids to increase school attendance, keep their grades up, and make memories that last a lifetime.

Christina is a journalist whose husband has been a high school theatre teacher for over a decade. She has seen more high school plays and musicals than she can count, and especially enjoys watching her daughter perform.

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