Theatre classes are often envisioned as the perfect extra-curricular activity for the imaginative, dramatic, spotlight loving child – and they are! Along with performance skills, theatre arts education poses a wealth of other benefits for all kinds of children including the development of transferable skills that can set youth up for success in many other areas of life. Every year we see all sorts of children participate in the theatre arts programming that we offer ranging from students who are shy and quiet to students who are outgoing and live for the spotlight.
It is always wonderful to see their growth in their skills in acting, singing, and dance, but the individual growth that students experience as they build friendships, gain confidence, and come out of their shells is just as noticeable and important. On an individual level, students experience the benefits of theatre arts education through increased levels of confidence, the exploration of self-expression, improved kinesthetic awareness and speech skills, and a more nuanced understanding of the world around them. In a theatre class environment, students are encouraged to make mistakes and explore imaginary circumstances without judgment.
As students explore new territory in this safe space, they develop a deeper understanding of the world around them and demonstrate greater self-confidence in new situations. Additionally, students develop the skills necessary for creative problem solving where students feel confident exploring creative solutions to real-world problems without fear of a trial and error process.
Throughout this exploration, drama education utilizes a variety of forms of communication including speech, movement, writing, and music. This variety allows students to explore different modes of self-expression and is often beneficial for students who may struggle to express themselves in conventional ways. As an added benefit, students develop increased body awareness and skills in public speaking – a vital skill in many industries. Children and youth also experience the benefits of drama education socially through an increased sense of belonging, a greater sense of empathy, and the development of improved social skills.
Many of the activities done in a theatre education setting involve team building and teamwork, which facilitates relationship building among the students and gives students an increased sense of self-worth as each and every student plays an integral role in the final product. The team work done in theatre education programs often results in an increased sense of belonging, particularly for students who may struggle to find their place of belonging elsewhere.
Additionally, through the exploration of the world through imagination and play, students can explore what it feels like to walk in another person’s shoes in a safe and supported environment. This allows youth to imagine other human experiences, developing a sense of empathy for how other people may experience the world around them. In turn, this creates greater social awareness in children and can promote a greater sense of inclusion within their communities. Theatre arts education is a wonderful opportunity to learn the acting, singing, and/or dancing skills needed to be a wonderful performer. However, as one can see from student growth in many other areas, theatre education stands to teach a variety of transferable, real world skills that will help set students up for success no matter what they do after classes are finished.
Cristina is the Theatre School Program Coordinator at StoryBook Theatre where they offer acting and musical theatre programs year-round for students of all experience levels and ages. Cristina is also a performer herself and taught music and drama for nearly a decade before joining the StoryBook team.
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