Summer camps are a great way for your child to pick up some extracurricular activities. When I’m considering possible summer camps for my daughters, I always look at what they’ll get out of the camp. Sure, I want them to have fun, but I also want them to learn some life skills. Theatre classes make my list of fun and learning, and the girls have done several over the years. Here’s six reasons why children should take theatre classes.
1. Public Speaking Skills
Public speaking is an important skill to develop for many reasons. This skill will be required in a variety of professions and spaces. As an introvert, I’m not a huge fan of public speaking, but I’ve done it in university classes and mom’s groups.
Children should take theatre classes to gain valuable experience in public speaking. They’ll get used to standing before an audience and speaking loudly and clearly. This is true even if your child is in a small theatre class, because they’ll still have to speak loudly enough for the parents assembled to hear them.
2. Empathy & Compassion
Aristotle described tragedies as cathartic, because they allowed for the purification of the emotions. Observers of the tragedies experienced the emotions along with the characters in the play, thus learning from the tragedy. The actors of the play experience these emotions even more fully.
Theatre encourages children to immerse themselves into the feelings, actions, and words of another person. That person may or may not be similar to themselves, encouraging them to develop empathy and compassion for another’s feelings.
In a world where most of us have a smartphone in our pockets, and can look up anything we need to know instantly, we depend less and less upon our own memories. Why remember how to get to a friend’s house when Google maps will tell you again. Why remember how to convert metric measurements to English when there’s a handy calculator on your cell phone.
Despite this, memorization is an important skill—a method of “weight-lifting” for the brain. Having children memorize their lines to a play is a great to exercise their brain muscles and encourage them to remember other things as well.
4. Hands-on Learning
Most plays teach some sort of lesson. Shakespeare’s plays, for example, are fun of metaphors and poetic language. They aren’t meant to be read, but are much better as a performance. Other plays bring alive history, which is much more interesting when the child is involved in the action rather than just reading about it. Some plays have important morals, present other cultures, or teach merely by the “catharsis” that Aristotle mentioned.
By practicing a play over and over again, putting themselves into character, and memorizing lines, children internalize all these lessons and more.
Even a one-man play takes more than one man to put on. There’s still the director, and often the lighting person (depending on how big the production is), and the artwork and costumes and backdrops and more. Theatre classes help children learn teamwork and see that each of them, though they all have different parts to play, contribute to the whole effect of the play. Some of these parts are behind the scenes and others are up on stage, but all of them work together to create the magic of theatre for the audience.
One of the biggest things that held me back from getting more involved in theatre at university was a lack of confidence. I envied those who were in the theatre department, for they had the confidence that I didn’t, both on stage and off. Theatre often pushes students out of their comfort zones, but it’s also a lot of fun. (My first-year university drama class was one of my favourites for all the theatre and improv games we played!)
Being able to speak before a large audience, memorize long lines, empathize with the characters they are acting out, and work with others together instill a sense of self-confidence in children.
Do you think children should take theatre classes? Have your kids been involved in theatre?
Looking for family-friendly theatre in Vancouver? Check out Align Entertainment‘s upcoming shows. They put on spectacular, Broadway-worthy performances of musicals the whole family will enjoy. Their next performance in February 2020 will be Shrek the Musical.