All the World’s a Stage: The Role of Theater in our Schools

While the value of a quality education is indisputable, not all learning takes place in a traditional classroom in teacher-led lessons. Today’s students need to explore and express themselves through hands-on learning and creative demonstration. In addition to traditional academics, programs like theater help develop the whole child. Here are a few skills students can learn by participating in the performing arts:

The words “team player” generally conjure an image of an athlete who doesn’t hog the ball. But kids in theater quickly learn about the importance of teamwork when they have to build sets, learn lines and appear on stage together in front of a large audience. Teamwork is an important component of student leadership, and by learning to work as part of a team at an early age, students have a better chance of being successful in their chosen careers.

By experiencing new and unfamiliar emotions through drama, students — whether in school or as part of an after-school program through an organization like Communities in Schools — have an opportunity to view the world through different lenses. Here they can learn about different experiences, thoughts and ideas. In doing so, students can gain a greater awareness of the emotions and perceptions of others. They can develop their own self-expression skills, which are often overlooked in traditional academics.

It’s terrifying to think about messing up in front of hundreds of people. But the performing arts shows off the unique talents of kids and gives them a sense of accomplishment. They will quickly see their ability to entertain and evoke emotion. When called upon to speak in front of others, or, later, to lead a team in a corporate environment, they will be more empowered.

Pretending to be someone else involves creativity and inventiveness. These are skills that are an inherent part of student leadership, as students of all ages learn to think on their feet and identify innovative solutions for accomplishing goals. But not all aspects of performing arts include performing on a stage. Even those on the costume, set and lighting crews will explore new methods of accomplishing goals.

As every theater kid knows, a show can be ruined by bad timing. Memorizing lines and remembering cues takes time and patience. By participating in a drama program, kids will sharpen their memorization and cognitive skills, simply because they have to as part of the production.

Communities In Schools of Jacksonville works to connect youth in Duval County to caring mentors in the community through after-school and literacy programming. Visit our site to learn how you can make a difference in a child’s life by becoming a mentor or donating to CIS of Jacksonville.