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Why is drama good for children?

As Principal of a drama school, I'm asked this question a lot. And I could write a book on the many reasons why drama is so excellent - not just good - for children. But for this blog post, I'll focus on just one benefit; and that's the improvement drama can make to a child's oral communication.

At school, there's an emphasis on children learning to read and write and rightly so, as these are fundamental skills. But where's the interest in how well a child is communicating and how clearly and confidently they are speaking? If you consider how much we communicate orally, interacting with friends, family, colleagues and strangers, then it seems odd that more emphasis isn't put on this in schools.

Good communication skills are an essential life skill, helping us make friends, get the most out of school, land the dream job, succeed in that dream job. Indeed, I am wracking my brains to think of a job that doesn't demand good communication skills.

And that's why drama is so good for young children: it teaches them not only how to speak clearly, loudly and with confidence, but many other communication skills as well. For example, at Perform we have developed games that focus on simple yet important lessons like looking someone in the eye when you talk to them and maintaining that eye contact. Clear diction is encouraged through tongue twisters and raps and voices are nurtured through our singing and vocal warm up exercises.

But it's not just about how you say something, it's about what you say too. Each week in our drama classes, children play a 'Detective Game' where they have to have an opinion on a subject, even if it's as simple as 'what's your favourite fruit and why?' It gets them thinking and talking in front of a group in a controlled and safe environment where they can practise and perfect analytical thinking without realising it.

Our classes also use role-play which enables children to act out situations that they might have never experienced before, but prepares them for when they might encounter something similar. I'm not saying that escaping the lion in the jungle is ever going to happen in real life (well I hope not!) but it's possible that arguing with a friend or being bullied might, and it's great to equip children with the communication skills to deal with these events.

But the benefit that I particularly value is that drama teaches empathy. When we do our Florence Nightingale workshops in schools we take the children back to the Crimean war and they get to feel how the soldiers might have felt in that situation. Personally, I believe that being empathetic with someone is incredibly valuable for developing our communications skills.

As you can see, there are many examples of how drama helps a child's communication skills. But I'd like to end with what a Perform dad once told me. He coaches top business executives on improving their presentation skills and he said that if every executive had attended Perform classes when they were young, he'd be out of a job as they wouldn't need any coaching!



Leave a comment

    From danhid
    I definitely agree with your opinion. I've been teaching drama for children more than 8 years. I can see drama is not only about acting on the stage. Drama is a language of inquiry that develops their creativity and imaginative skills. http://dramaelementary.blogspot.com
    From danhid
    Hi, I'm danhid. I definetely agree with your opinion. I've been teaching drama for children more than 8 years. I can see that Drama is not only about the stage. Drama is about language of inquiry for children. They develop their thinking skills, imaginative skills and creativity. Since I'm teaching drama I tried to documented our activities in our simple blog at http://dramaelementary.logspot.com. Thank you for sharing this great article.
    From Lucy Quick
    Brilliant. If you can show her the videos on youtube http://www.perform.org.uk/classes/weekly-classes/perform-48s/themes/wildwest in advance then that will be really good for her as she'll go in knowing the songs in advance. Have fun. You'll love the teachers there too.
    From Georgina Sarmiento-Carr
    Thanks Lucy, that is great to hear! She will be attending the Hove, Saturday class on the 25th. My husband speaks Spanish and I English to her at home, but I speak Spanish with my husband all the time, so she mainly hears that. However I am sure from what I have seen from this website that she will love it. Told her this morning and she seemed very excited. Thanks!
    From Lucy Quick
    Hi Georgina, Thank you for your comments. Which class is your daughter attending? Our producers call parents a day before the class to get background information into the individual child and how we can help them individually. I have a niece who lives in England but whose mum is Spanish, so speaks Spanish at home all the time and she's felt that the Perform songs have really helped Carmen with her confidence in speaking English.
    From Georgina Sarmiento-Carr
    Great blog post. Captures most of the reasons why I have booked a first session for my 5 year old to attend one of your classes! Good communication skills as you say, can only benefit any child in every aspect of their lives, helping them deal more effectively with situations throughout the course of their childhood and later on in life. Really excited about bringing her along. She is bi-lingual and was a late speaker, and I feel that she sometimes lacks the confidence to fully express what she wants to say, because she is switching languages (certainly at home) but in turn it is such a great gift to have. She has an amazing imagination and I am sure she will love it! Here's hoping ;-)
    From Lucy Quick
    Thank you very much.
    From Kenny Weeks
    Completely agree with this. Children should be free to express themselves, run around the play ground, chase each other, use their imagination and generally be free. Drama is a great way to dream and use one's brain to think. Keep up the good work.
    From Lucy Quick
    I'm not sure, but he is intent on that indeed. Disgusting really.
    From Lucy Quick
    Well said Jessica and thank you for your feedback.
    From John Aled
    Agreed. You need to have a word with Michael Gove - does he have any kids? He is intent on destroying so called wishy washy subjects...
    From Jessica Harrison
    I couldn't agree more Lucy.

    Drama is essential in a child's development. In drama, a child can be free to express, to empathise and to imagine in a way that is not confined by paper or computers or results. To have an expansive imagination and an ability to express will empower a child with the most important skill; confidence.

    We cannot take it for granted that these attributes will be picked up along the way, or we may end up with a future generation of adults who lack creativity and self belief.
    From Lucy Quick
    Hi John, yes, it's the fact that it falls within English and not in its own topic that I don't like.
    From John Rose
    Drama is taught at Key Stage One.
    It fall within English. 'Speaking and Listening'.
    Oral and aural skills. Hope this clears things up for you?
    From Lucy Quick
    Thank you. I totally agree. It can quite literally transform children's personalities. I just wish more emphasis was put on it through education.
    From Maggie Saxby
    Brilliant work Lucy. Drama like all the arts is really valuable for children in so many ways.
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