What’s the Use of Drama?

Guest Post by Susan Stephenson

the importance of drama for children christmas play

I used to teach drama in my regular classroom. I also taught a drama class outside school hours to kids 7 – 15.  I believe drama lessons and drama activities have so much to offer children.

In NSW, drama is part of the Creative Arts syllabus. It might be called  Performing Arts in your school. The sad thing to me is most schools are so crunched for time with all the assessment they must do, the arts subjects are usually the first ones to be neglected. So your child might get to perform in a play, or recite a poem on stage for a school concert, but that’s not 1/00th of what he or she could be doing. Sadly, some children won’t get much drama at all at school.

Perhaps your own neighbourhood might have a drama group outside school hours run by a local teacher. We have a Conservatorium in my city which offers drama classes as well as music. Sometimes local theatre groups will offer classes. I’ve also seen circus skills workshops and other workshops in dance, mime etc. I would ask to sit on a class if you can before you pay for it. Are the children having fun? Is there a sense of discipline about the group? It will no doubt be noisy, but you shouldn’t see kids doing dangerous or mean things. Is the material being spoon-fed to the kids or are they creating and having ownership of it themselves?

What are some of the benefits to kids of participating in drama activities?

  • Drama helps kids think creatively. Many of the habits they develop during drama, carry over to other everyday The importance of drama for childrenand educational settings.
  • Drama encourages kids to work collaboratively. They take part in activities where they must rely on each other and learn to trust.
  • Drama is a wonderful way for children to interact with, and interpret literature, or text of any sort. They get opportunities to analyze how a character’s personality, motives and actions influence plot. This can be as simple as understanding and portraying the fear that a piggy feels when confronted by a wolf. Some kids who think they don’t like books will find their way to reading by dramatizing a story or poem.
  • Drama develops communication skills. Kids learn how to use their face, voice and body movements to get a message across to any audience, whether it be at a job interview, on stage, or with a group of friends.
  • Drama allows kids to practise many of the higher order thinking skills in a playful context. They must think critically, apply knowledge to new situations, analyze, solve problems, make decisions, collaborate – all skills that will benefit not just their reading and writing, but every core subject at school.
  • Drama prepares kids for real life. In our rush to have children acquire academic learning, we often forget their personal and social development. The emphasis in drama is on being a team member and working collaboratively rather than hogging the limelight for yourself. Kids are expected to be active, reflective, flexible, responsible and responsive – all skills that will benefit them in every facet of their lives.
  • Drama gives kids an outlet for their creativity. Not every child can wield a paintbrush to their own satisfaction or play an instrument like a virtuoso. Drama is a level playing field. I have seen so many children blossom in drama classes.
  • Drama encourages self-discipline. It might look and sound messy and noisy, but it isn’t mayhem. It’s not about putting yourself first. It’s about working as a group.
  • Drama gives us a way to gain understanding of others. We learn tolerance by walking a mile in another’s shoes, and drama is a way to do that. 

If you can’t find a drama class for your child, don’t despair. Lots of drama activities can be incorporated into family life, or used with groups like Sunday School, Girl Guides/Boy Scouts, even used in a big family get-together. I mention some of those activities, as well as providing online resources you can use, in The Book Chook article, Drama.

Is your child involved in Drama? Is Drama encouraged at your school?

The Book Chook blog brings tips to parents about encouraging their kids to read, write, create and learn. You’ll find book reviews of great children’s literature and educational products, explanations of how to use useful online resources with your kids, and answers to letters from parents. The Book Chook is the blog of Susan Stephenson, an Australian teacher and writer, who is fascinated by technology and what it can do to motivate kids and help them learn.

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  • Reply
    Kelly Be A Fun Mum
    June 16, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I love this BC. It makes a lot of things clear about the role of drama…I think especially there is a misconception about drama, that it’s disorganised and about being ‘carefree’. And what you’ve shown is it’s important for many areas of growth and development. I would love their to be more opportunity for performing arts at school for my children. Maybe if we all write a letter to the education minister…HA!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I found drama really difficult as a child. Both my sisters were great actors and I just felt self-conscious. I am glad I came across this post because I hadn’t really thought about all the benefits of participating in drama classes. I think I will do some more research so that I can encourage my kids to get involved if/when the opportunity knocks. Thanks x

  • Reply
    June 17, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Drama is definitely something I want the princesses to get involved with once they reach school age. It helped me incredibly, especially with confidence. I was a terribly shy child and I really believe it was drama that helped me come out of my shell. Really great post. 🙂

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