Theatre and drama is an art form that involves the whole person physically and emotionally. By making use of space, gestures, expressions, and props, you can tell a story and convey a message to your audience.
Theatre in education is not a new concept – in fact, it has been around in schools for a long time. In Britain, theatre has been incorporated into classrooms since the 90s, and today, it remains popular around the world in school programmes and after-school enrichment.
The popularity of theatre and drama for children goes beyond learning about skills involved in practising the art form. When they engage regularly in drama classes, children also reap development benefits. These benefits are outlined below:
It builds confidence
Taking part in drama sessions requires participants to put themselves on a stage and present themselves to an audience. The stage often begins as a small studio and their classmates as their audience. But with constant exposure, children will soon find themselves being more comfortable in front of larger audiences and on larger platforms.
Learning how to memorise and deliver their lines is an important skill even later on when students go on to do formal presentations in class. Through drama, they can gain first-hand experience on these presentation skills, like how to battle their own nerves and command their audience’s attention.
It builds social skills
Theatre classes involve a lot of social interaction between classmates, as students will need to take on individual roles and collaborate to complete the production. By understanding that they have a unique part in the story, they learn to take turns to let others shine, and cooperate to make the production go smoothly.
Children can also pick up social skills from the situations that they act out. Theatre gives them the opportunity to immerse themselves in various roles and scenarios, challenging them to produce appropriate responses, sometimes in improvisatory contexts.
It develops language and communication skills
Putting up a stage performance is all about telling a story. When they learn their scripts, children can pick up new words and phrases, and hone their speaking skills as they practice their lines.
Gestures are also a huge part of effective drama – children will gain an awareness of how to control their expressions and actions, as well as the implications of these non-verbal cues. This is useful as non-verbal cues are a significant part of communication.
It develops creativity
An important element in drama is improvisation. Teachers often incorporate some improvisatory opportunities in classes to get students to express themselves individually. When children are put on the spot, it trains them to respond quickly.
This skill of thinking on your feet is crucial in developing creative problem-solving skills. Children can also inject their own individuality into their responses, thus giving them an outlet for self-expression. The best thing is, this is all done in a nurturing and safe environment, making children feel like they are playing and having fun.
It broadens their perspective of the world
The wonder of theatre is that it immerses you in varied fictional situations that you might not have encountered in real life. This aspect of drama is especially handy for introducing children to a broad spectrum of issues. Some topics can be innocuous ones like ‘animals at the zoo’, to touchier subjects like ‘school bullying’.
When acting out the play, participants are forced to engage their own emotions and interact with the issue on a deeper level. Thus, it becomes more impactful and memorable than if the child learns about it through traditional means like a book or lecture.
To give your child the experience of theatre, you can enrol them in a school with a vibrant arts programme like the Canadian International School (CIS). The international school in Singapore has a range of classroom and extra-curricular arts programmes, which also includes drama. Running the IB programme in Singapore, CIS aims to develop creativity, self-confidence, teamwork, and adaptability through their arts programmes.
It’s never too early to start; children as early as three years of age can begin to participate in drama activities under the IB primary years programme at CIS. Don’t overlook the importance of theatre in your child’s education – your child is guaranteed to have fun and pick up a lot of useful skills through this art form!