Friday, June 11, 2010


Have you thought about drama classes for your child?

"Mum, come quick! Liam’s head is stuck between the rails!”

“Daddy, I think Puss ate something yuk that made her tummy sick!”

Most of us get plenty of drama in our everyday lives, so why would we want more?

Some parents who are concerned about their child's communication ability turn to drama lessons for help. Perhaps the youngster lacks confidence, or has some problems relating to others.

I believe drama can help in those situations, but it can also be of benefit to any child.

Drama helps kids think creatively. Many of the habits they develop during drama, carry over to other everyday and educational settings.

Drama encourages kids to work collaboratively. They take part in activities where they must rely on each other and learn to trust.

Drama is a wonderful way for children to interact with, and interpret literature, or text of any sort. They get opportunities to analyze how a character's personality, motives and actions influence plot. This can be as simple as understanding and portraying the fear that a piggy feels when confronted by a wolf. Some kids who think they don't like books will find their way to reading by dramatizing a story or poem.

Drama develops communication skills. Kids learn how to use their face, voice and body movements to get a message across to any audience, whether it be at a job interview, on stage, or with a group of friends.

Drama allows kids to practise many of the higher order thinking skills in a playful context. They must think critically, apply knowledge to new situations, analyze, solve problems, make decisions, collaborate - all skills that will benefit not just their reading and writing, but every core subject at school.

Drama prepares kids for real life. In our rush to have children acquire academic learning, we often forget their personal and social development. The emphasis in drama is on being a team member and working collaboratively rather than hogging the limelight for yourself. Kids are expected to be active, reflective, flexible, responsible and responsive - all skills that will benefit them in every facet of their lives.

Drama gives kids an outlet for their creativity. Not every child can wield a paintbrush to their own satisfaction or play an instrument like a virtuoso. Drama is a level playing field. I have seen so many children blossom in drama classes.

Drama encourages self-discipline. It might look and sound messy and noisy, but it isn't mayhem. It's not about putting yourself first. It's about working as a group.

Drama gives us a way to gain understanding of others. We learn tolerance by walking a mile in another's shoes, and drama is a way to do that.

Above all, drama is so much FUN! I taught drama to all my regular classes, as well as an after-school drama class for 7 to 15- year-olds. I like to think I did that for 20 plus years for the students' sakes, but you and I know better, don't we?

Some children are lucky enough to have drama lessons within school; others attend out-of-school classes. These classes range from informal, to a more formal curriculum, sometimes culminating in a qualification like AMEB. Kids don't need to attend classes though; there are many drama activities that are suitable for home too.

In DRAMA (2) next week, I'll discuss some activities and resources you can use with your children. You might also be interested in my articles about using Reader's Theatre with kids.


  1. Sheryl Gwyther11 June, 2010

    I SO, SO agree with all you've said, Bookchook!
    Drama can be the most amazing thing to use with kids and can benefit so many areas of development. One of my loves (at the moment) is writing plays that kids can perform (and extend and improvise upon). :-D

  2. Book Chook11 June, 2010

    Sheryl, that sounds interesting! I particularly like the "extend and improvise on" part. I love when writers provide activities that extend the value of their books, and encourage kids to interact with them.

  3. Funny, I was thinking about drama classes earlier this week. I was reading a good book aloud to Jemimah and it occured to me that I was really acting the parts using my voice. I thought I did pretty well and I was wondering whether I would have been good at drama at school. I was always to whimpy to give it a go - other people might have laughed at me, I mean to say. Not likely!

    Off to follow the link to Reader's Theatre now.

  4. Book Chook12 June, 2010

    Yes, it needs to be a supportive atmosphere before we take that risk, but it gets easier! Sometimes it's easier to start with an activity that say just involves language like word-at-a-time story under Book Chook Bag of Tricks, or one that just involves making a statue, no sound, or one you can call a game like Charades. And Reader's Theatre isn't threatening when you're really just reading aloud.

  5. Alex Case13 June, 2010

    My parents actually did a play with my sisters, me, friends and assorted other kids who were interested, despite none of us having any particular knowledge of drama. It was one of the best things I did as a kid, and certainly the best thing we did as a family

  6. Book Chook13 June, 2010

    That's an interesting point, Alex. Thanks for making it. To me, it highlights the power of drama and its ability to make things stick in our memories. I suspect that's because it engages us on many levels, but most of all emotionally. I can recall doing a role play (as a young adult student) where I was assigned the role of a woman whose home had been destroyed by fire. The way I felt, some of the words I said even, are still fresh in my mind after these many years.

  7. Thanks for commenting on my site and for the link!

  8. Book Chook11 July, 2010

    You're welcome Nora, and welcome to The Book Chook!


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