It’s widely recognised that sport adds much to the social, physical and cognitive development of children and teenagers. But what about singing, acting and dancing? How can performing arts help your child in the classroom and beyond?
Performing arts builds confidence
You may think that only the most confident kids would dare step on stage, or take their turn in the spotlight. However, participation in the performing arts actually helps build confidence for everyone, from the shyest child to the most outgoing.
The National Theatre Education Department conducted a three year study of drama in primary schools. The results showed that children who took part in their drama programme reported an increased enjoyment of school.
By taking part regularly in organised performing arts education, children grew in self-esteem. This is recognised as one of the essential tools for learning.
Performing arts and the link with learning
Self-esteem is important for educational achievement as it supports so many of the factors that enable learning. Children gain the confidence that they can progress. They become more able to make connections and become more curious and more creative. The children who participated in the National Theatre study grew in self-confidence which in turn led to their increased enjoyment of school. The cohort scored higher score in mathematics compared to those who did not participate.
The findings of this study are reinforced by a globally-conducted pupil and parent survey from NAE. It demonstrated that children studying music, dance and drama are more proficient in reading, writing and mathematics.
Taking part in music, dance or drama encourages children to be creative and develop their problem-solving skills. It also builds resilience in recovering from the occasional failure. Dealing with technical hitches, forgotten lines or nerves help children to act independently and become quick thinkers. “When something goes wrong during a show, kids learn to improvise,” says Brian Olkowski, a teacher in San Ramon, CA, and director of the school’s drama club. “One of the best things kids discover is how to think on their feet”. No performance is ever perfect, and by getting through an on-stage hiccup, children realise how capable they are.
Building friendships that last
Participation in the performing arts is also beneficial for social and emotional development. Working together to learn lines and practise routines helps children form new friendships and solidify existing ones. It creates opportunities to share the same experience of joy when singing together in a chorus. By working as a team they take pride in what they create together and have a shared sense of purpose. It’s a wonderful way of building community at any age or educational stage.
Children’s happiness and wellbeing has never been more important. We saw first-hand how thrilled our DN Theatre pupils were to return to their classes earlier this year. It’s clear to see how much they missed their friends (and teachers!) when we were apart during lockdown. Boys and girls aged from 4-6 years can join our Musical Theatre Minis. We explore the wonderful world of musicals and get under the skin of the characters. We give opportunities for kids to find their voice in a fun, creative and supportive environment.
For older children and teens, our Musical Theatre Academy offers more in-depth training and workshops for those aged from 7 – 16 years. The academy content is tailored to suit those attending. We come together as a group for large chorus numbers. We also split into smaller groups based on experience and ability to hone our skills. The whole company also has the opportunity to perform together on full chorus numbers, giving all students a real feeling of achievement, teamwork and community.
We know instinctively that working together to sing, dance and act brings fun and energy into kids’ lives (plenty of happy hormones and seratonin-boosting sessions!) but it seems that the love of performance and musical theatre has wider-reaching benefits for all and that there are many ways in which performing arts can help your child.