Children in drama class performing

Sometimes drama class isn't the first thing parents think of when they're looking for something to help their child's development. But here are seven reasons why drama class is the best thing ever for childhood and teenage development. 

#1 Drama helps kids make friends.
As a parent, it's always tough when your child feels they don't have any friends. This moment comes when they have a fight with their bestie, didn't find anyone to play with one lunchtime, or they've been subject to bullying. Unfortunately, these are the social learning experiences of childhood. But go to drama class - and your child develops a circle of friends outside the usual parameters. Not only that, the activities that take place in class are conducive to building friendships. Working on a script, creating a play or scene together, and discussion with classmates about stories and characters - all these encourage friendliness between class members. 

#2 Drama develops self-confidence
This is a big one. Often kids come to us who are shy or anxious. But when they get to experiment on stage as a character other than themselves, they explore parts of themselves and their imagination they didn't know existed. Before they perform in a play, they may be very nervous - but once they get out there and do it, suddenly they feel within themselves they've achieved something. And it was fun. And it was creative. And they received applause. All of these things build self-confidence. 

#3 Drama helps kids become more creative. 
Children and young people are naturally creative - but as they get older, we tend to encourage them "not to be so silly". They have to grow up and learn to be responsible. And yet the World Economic Forum has for several years been saying that creativity is one of the three top skills needed in the contemporary workforce. So often we feel a little conflicted about play and creativity. When you allow children to participate in a drama class, you are actually providing a place for their own creative exploration. When human beings are creative, they flourish. Plus you're giving them a headstart on future work skills they;ll need as they mature. They're learning how to preserve their creative spirit. 

#4 Drama helps kids become more empathetic. 
With so many different voices in our world today, and so many conflicting opinions, it's important that human beings show empathy towards one another. The ability to stand in another person's shoes, and understand them, and feel for them, is something that happens naturally in drama class. Every time a child tries on a new character in their script, they are invited to imagine themselves from that character's point of view. They are asked to think outside themselves - and bring those thoughts into themselves. That's where empathy is born. 

#5 Drama develops communication skills
So much of our children's time is spent in engagement with screens. They're losing touch with their bodies. Communication involves the whole self - body language, voice, eyes, and mind. Drama, with its imaginative movement exercises, its adoption of character traits, it's emphasis on exploring emotion, and its performance experiences, helps children to communicate in a holistic way. In working with words and scripts, they become more articulate. In embodying a character on stage or screen and adopting postures, voices and gestures appropriate to that character, they become more naturally expressive.

#6 Drama builds team skills
In Australia, sport is central to society. As well as health benefits, sport provides opportunity for kids to work as part of a team. But did you know - drama does exactly the same thing? Students of drama learn to support other members of their ensemble, work on a performance project together, complete warm-ups and movement exercises together, and learn how to resolve conflicts together. So if you are looking at what activities your child needs in the coming year, realise that drama will achieve many of the same outcomes as sport - plus a whole lot more. 

#7 Drama creates precious memories
What's interesting about working with adults in the performing arts - whether they come to us to do a qualification, a leisure course, or whether their employer forces them to do one of our corporate programs - is that they will often describe formative drama experiences they had as a child. More often than not, these are extraordinarily happy memories. Being a shepherd in the school nativity play. Being in the ensemble of a school musical. Being spotted by a teacher and encouraged to pursue acting. Heck, even playing a tree! Participation in drama creates previous memories, and why? Because drama engages our hearts as well s our minds. Drama makes us feel like we belong. Drama taps into our creative spirit. Drama allows us to explore things we normally wouldn't think about. All of these aspects work together to imprint vivid memories that stay with us for a lifetime. 

I'd say it's time to enrol your child in drama classes, don't you?

Elizabeth Avery Scott

About the Author

Elizabeth Avery Scott is the CEO of Perform Australia. She is not only a playwright, teacher and entrepreneur, she is also a qualified counsellor and works with children and young people, and loves to see them grow and develop.