Why Drama and Theater are Important to Your Child’s Development

Participating in theater as a child can have a positive impact on your child’s development in many ways, and these activities aren’t limited to your neighborhood’s theater company or local drama class. Theater-related activities such as acting, singing, performing, or even just playing pretend, reading books aloud, and imagining around the house are all ways your child can exercise her imagination, which will positively affect her development. Luckily, theater and drama classes, summer camps, and other performing arts activities are not hard to come by in the New York metro area. Lena Moy-Borgen, founder of Play On! Studios in Manhattan, shares four ways theater and drama can positively impact your child’s development, as well as tips to facilitate this growth in your home.

The Performing Arts Teaches Children Teamwork

While sports certainly teach children the importance of teamwork, you are always competing against someone in some sense, according Moy-Borgen. Performing in a show teaches children what it means to work as a team without competing against anyone else. If your child’s fellow cast member delivers her lines perfectly, the show becomes stronger and ultimately everyone succeeds. The whole cast works together to put something out into the world, and because they’re all working toward a common goal, everyone is learning to hope for the success of each other—and to lift one another up. 

Participating in Theater Gives Kids Confidence

The ability to feel confident and be comfortable speaking out in a group is not easy for many children, especially those who may be a little shy. Theater teaches children how to be assertive, how to be confident, and how to really put themselves out there when they are in a group setting, Moy-Borgen says. Learning to feel comfortable delivering lines, moving around the stage, and maybe making a silly face in front of others teaches children to be comfortable in their skin and to embrace situations that draw attention to them. This can translate to confidence in so many aspects in life down the line, including participating more in school, having the ability to speak up when a social situation makes your child feel uncomfortable, and even being a strong and collaborative employee.

Children in Theater Programs Learn Empathy

At a young age, it can be difficult for children to fully understand what it means to be empathetic. Participating in theater teaches children how to connect with others from a young age and how to consider viewpoints that aren’t their own—positively impacting their emotional development. Your child will learn a lot about himself when playing new characters and exploring different emotions that maybe he hasn’t felt yet, according to Moy-Borgen. This can also help your child find the words and tools to face new and challenging emotions, as well as how to name those emotions and healthily express them.

Kids in Performing Arts Will Discover an Appreciation for Theater

Children that are involved in theater and other aspects of performing arts will likely hold onto this appreciation and understanding for the arts throughout their lives. Often those who have never been involved in theater or never seen a play will go through their entire adult lives without really understanding the draw to it. This is important because, while not every child who participates in theater camp will go on to star on Broadway or even be involved in the arts professionally, this can be a beneficial hobby, interest, and part of your child’s life for years to come.

Encouraging Theater Skills at Home

A great way to incorporate these skills outside of theater camps, classes, and programs is in your home with your family. If your child likes to read books out loud, start with that. Have your daughter act out her favorite characters and express the emotions the character is feeling. Ask her questions such as, “How do you think this character is feeling? Can you show me what that would look like?” At a very young age, this is a great way to introduce your child to performing and see if it’s something she may want to pursue in after-school theater classes or at a performing arts camp. 

Encouraging your child to play pretend is another great way to kickstart their imagination. Take your son to your local costume or party store and let him pick out dress-up items that excite him (even when it’s not Halloween!). Show your daughter how fun it is to dress up like and pretend to be a pirate. Don’t be afraid to use silly voices and exaggerated gestures! Inspire her by playing along and committing to this character for the whole day. After all, you are your child’s biggest inspiration at a young age and if you say it’s fun and cool, chances are your child will think so, too.