Children and Drama

A Creativity Institute Guest Column

Drama - The Most Important Subject?
By Marilynn McLachlan

So, you've got a child at school, and they know how to read and write well. Perhaps they do very well academically.

This is, of course, very important, but how well does your child communicate orally? Are they a confident, clear speaker?

Chances are, that within the school system, your child spends the majority of time focused on writing and reading skills, while not so much time on oratory ones. If you look objectively at your own life for a single day, you will notice that most of your interactions with other people require you to know how to speak and listen well. Good oral communicators find it easier to make friends and will find it easier in the long term to find and hold good jobs.

Good oratory skills are only one of the benefits that learning drama gives your child.

Here are some more:

· In learning drama, your child is learning a wide range of appropriate (and inappropriate) ways of communicating. They learn to project their voice and to speak words clearly.

· Your child learns those subtle cues that we all give away when we are interacting with someone else. It may mean a mannerism, or understanding that someone is angry ­ even when they say they are not ­ but their lips are tightened in a line, arms are folded across the chest.

· In learning drama, your child is learning that important quality of empathy. It allows, if only briefly, for the actor to experience how someone else thinks and acts.

· Your child learns how to act, obviously. This may seem a weird thing ­ who but actors need to act? We do. We do it every single day. We put on a smile at the checkout lady when we really feel like crap. We go to a job interview, terribly nervous and yet hide our nerves (that is act).

· Drama works to promote your child's imagination. Imagination is one of life's essential ingredients. Take for example, the teenager who has just been 'dumped' by their boyfriend. In amongst the tears and heartache, imagination (if it has been allowed to develop) begins to take hold. The 'minds eye' starts working, and the teen can begin to see other possibilities ­ a new boyfriend, or how staying single could actually be a good thing. It starts as a seed and grows until what was imagined becomes reality.

· Imagination gives life excitement ­ it keeps things interesting. Even our top scientists need an imagination. In order to find a cure for cancer, for example, the scientist must first be able to imagine a cure.

· Drama, by its very nature requires that the child be put into circumstances ­ physically, mentally and emotionally ­ that are outside their understanding of how things should be. This helps them to grow as a person.

So, you can see that by encouraging drama both at school and in the home, you are giving your child some enormous personal benefits that will stay with them long into adulthood.

Marilynn McLachlan
Author: "The New Parent Code: 12 Vital Clues to Achieving Modern Family Sanity",
Penguin Books, 2005.

To learn more about encouraging creativity (and a whole lot more) in YOUR home, visit her site Sign up for her free ezine and take the $20 dress-up box challenge.

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