Alongside the many benefits of growing up in a digital world, there are also some tangible downsides. Young people spend less time being physically active, less time outdoors, less physical time with friends, less time reading, and less time engaged in creative hobbies. The algorithms of our social media echo chambers can also detract from a young person’s exposure to multiple viewpoints, resulting in fewer opportunities to develop compassion or empathy. So how can parents offer some non-digital balance into our kids’ development? One simple solution to all of those things, is theatre classes.
Theatre is astonishingly, shockingly, amazingly beneficial for kids. Here are seven reasons why.
- Theatre Improves Reading Skills
Did you know that theatre programs improve reading skills? In theatre classes, participants have to interact deeply with the text. It is both a visual and a kinesthetic way of developing literary comprehension, as well as abilities to predict outcomes, assess characters, understand plot, motive, and denouement, and to strategically bring these concepts to life. This hones high-level literacy skills in kids of all ages. Theatre students learn to understand these concepts with enough intricacy to bring them from the page to the stage. It makes them better readers, and better thinkers.
- Theatre Improves Creativity
It might be more well known that theatre programs help build creativity and imagination. Kids who participate in theatre learn to think outside the box, and become quick and competent at divergent thinking, which is increasingly considered an essential skill in many careers. Through creative problem solving, improvising, and adapting to live-audiences, youth in theatre develop a balance of right-brain/left-brain thinking which contributes to growing a healthy, happy mind.
- Theatre Improves Communication
Theatre is fundamentally collaborative on many expanding levels: amongst the cast, between the cast and crew, and between the cast, crew, and audience. There is a democratic component to creating a work of art as an ensemble, and then recreating it in real time, day after day, with live audiences. It is a dynamic, reactive process that involves flexibility on top of preparation and rehearsals. Theatre kids develop positive communication techniques through this collaborative process, and learn life-long skills in building consensus, and in respectful group behaviour. Theatre brings team-building to a different level, and provides a path towards meaningful communication.
- Theatre Teaches Empathy
Similarly, theatre programs elicit the experience of empathy. Kids have to see the viewpoint of their own character, and to a certain extent, all the characters in the play. For young people, this might involve imagining yourself in a position you have never personally experienced, and ‘trying on’ what it would feel like. It is the rare opportunity to be someone else and experience their perspective, and an invaluable opportunity to learn empathy in a safe and playful environment.
- Theatre is Physical
Most of us spend way too much time on screens these days, but theatre classes offer an incentive for kids to interact physically in a real space. Theatre uses both body and mind, movement and thinking. It is physically active and can be very cardiovascular, especially musical theatre, dancing, stage combat, or clowning. It is a great way for kids who don’t tend towards sports to engage in a physical activity, and theatre classes can be a useful antidote to the lure of screens for any kids, regardless of athletic inclinations.
- Theatre Boosts Self Confidence
One of the well documented benefits of theatre programs for youth is how much they contribute to self esteem. This has been studied both in and out of schools, and research consistently shows that theatre programs promote confidence and positive self perception. It provides a playful and organically therapeutic outlet for participants to express themselves, explore identity, play games, and free-style in ways that expand their self-awareness, their range, and their understanding of their own capabilities and self-worth. Theatre helps kids feel good about themselves.
- Theatre Provides Community
One of the things many theatre kids mention is the sense of social belonging they get from their theatre community. Maybe because theatre encourages participants to come out of their shells, or maybe because participants get to know each other so well through teamwork and rehearsals, theatre kids tend to feel a sense of camaraderie and acceptance within their troupes. Theatre programs are often at the centre of lasting friendships, and a welcome feeling of being understood and accepted.
Ultimately these benefits are only footnotes to anyone’s experience of belonging to a youth musical theatre troupe. It is an immersive experience that gives participants a sense of deep satisfaction and accomplishment, a sense of enthusiasm and excitement around their efforts and successes, and a giddy, heady feeling of fun. Participating in a musical theatre program is great in so many ways, but really kids join for the joy of it. Underneath everything else, it’s simply a lot of fun.
For amazing theatre classes for youth of all ages, join TES Theatre Company and enjoy the benefits while experiencing the fun.