Often perceived as a 'soft' option when compared to pursuits such as swimming, football or a stint with the Scouts, Performing Arts are hugely beneficial for children and young people - more so than many parents realise.
We're going to look at some of the benefits of performing arts for children that often go unnoticed. This list is by no means exhaustive, and every child will take his or her time to develop all the characteristics explored. Take a quick read and consider how many of these qualities you see your child demonstrate daily, and if he or she doesn’t already participate in performing arts, consider if even one of these qualities might encourage enrolment in classes.
Empathy is a hugely important characteristic in everyday life, and children, who can naturally be quite self-centred, will benefit from learning empathy when they study characterisation. To accurately portray a character, we need to be able to step into their shoes to understand and appreciate their present situation and our portrayal of them at that moment; but we also need to understand the decisions and actions that have brought them to the instance we are depicting. Is this character happy or sad; why do they feel this way; and what will influence their thinking at this moment in time? If your child understands a character in this way they can apply this to their own lives and will in turn know how to react more effectively to everyday situations with friends, at school or with adults, ultimately making them more socially aware. Parents can help nurture empathy by reading in scenes at home to help your child memorise their lines and better understand their character.
The ability to listen, retain information and act accordingly is an important skill. Effective listening is achieved when children take direction from their peers, teachers and directors. This direction can not only change the course of a scene, but it encourages children to be more receptive to the thoughts and ideas of others if they are willing to listen and work collaboratively. In turn, this can make children less confrontational, and better-respected among their peers, who will see them as someone to turn to when they need advice or just someone to talk to. The ability to listen also boosts the sense of camaraderie and encourages teamwork among children who are part of a larger cast. Performances are a big commitment, requiring a whole team effort to ensure that the end result is their best possible performance. While listening to changes is time-consuming and requires patience, when the whole cast perseveres they will end up with a performance they can be proud of, as well as mums, dads and carers!
Children are often encouraged to use their imaginations and ‘think-outside-the-box’ when confronted with an issue. For example, they may come across the following scenario in a drama class: we don’t have access to a car to perform our scene, but we do have four chairs for seats and a colander which will become our steering wheel. We can all react to the curve of the road, or have experienced the jolt of a car when stopping quickly in traffic – therefore we have all the components needed to portray a car journey. The ability to solve problems creatively within the safety of a performing arts environment can be transferred to everyday life when dealing with a variety of issues. If children feel comfortable exploring and dealing with problems in a non-linear way, this makes them more confident overall. Perhaps you have noticed this in your child when they have used creative thinking to solve a problem.
Performing arts are hugely beneficial to children’s confidence levels. It takes courage to participate in a practical performance: standing up on a stage, risking forgetting a line or tripping in a dance routine. The confidence that comes from performing arts is naturally transferred into everyday life and will help children in a variety of different social situations - making them more comfortable answering questions in their lessons, giving presentations and successfully interviewing for university places and jobs later on in life. Parents can help to nurture children’s new-found confidence by encouraging them to rehearse their lines, songs and dance routines in front of family and friends. You could even encourage them to teach their dance routines to willing members of the family. Not only will this affirm to the child that they know the routine but being able to teach Dad a new dance move or two will also instil a sense of pride in a child and no doubt be a source of entertainment!
Helping children to flourish
All the skills and qualities learned from performing arts will also benefit children in their academic pursuits and achievements. Increased confidence, listening skills, empathy and improved problem solving will all help a child to flourish in class by becoming more engaged and mature students.
At PQA we believe that our three core modules offer our pupils the very best mix of both performance and technical training as well as providing them with skills for life to help them grow into well-rounded individuals. Even children who don’t pursue the performing arts will hugely benefit from the experiences they gain and the friendships they make, and these memories will last a lifetime. Would your child benefit from developing these skills?