Tis the season of the school play, and if you're anything like us, the last week's been a blur of stage slap, stage fright and snap-happy parents all vying for the perfect shot of their little angel.
While there are many who feel participating in drama detracts from the more academic aspects of a child's education, it might come as a surprise to learn there are real and significant benefits from allowing children to participate in the annual school play.
According to American Alliance for Theatre and Education, (AATE) children who take part regularly in drama activities can expect a whole host of benefits ranging from better engagement with school, a lowered dropout rate and a more positive overall learning journey.
Studies have shown that children who partake in drama have better reading comprehension and verbal skills too. Based on various studies in the US researchers found that "these experiences also help them to develop a better understanding of other works and of language and expression in general."
In the rush for exam results and academic achievement parents can often forget that children need to acquire a broad range of personal and social skills too. Drama improves personal development by building confidence, empathy, self-discipline and social awareness. While the process of working together teaches collaboration and cooperation.
A 2013 Australian study, conducted by the University of Sydney followed 645 children from 15 schools. The study found that those involved in dance, drama, music and visual arts, "showed more positive outcomes with homework completion, class participation, school enjoyment and educational aspirations, than those who did not participate in the arts at school."
Interestingly the report also notes, "The same students demonstrated higher levels of personal well-being measures when participating in the arts, such as self-esteem, life satisfaction, and a sense of meaning or purpose."
And, as if that weren't enough, there are also very strong links to academic performance too. In the 00s, the (US) College Entrance Examination Board studied student questionnaires over the course of four consecutive years and concluded that:
SAT students involved in drama performance scored an average of 65.5 points higher on the verbal component and 35.5 points higher on the math component.
SAT students who took courses in drama study and appreciation, scored on average, 55 points higher on verbal and 26 points higher on math than their non-arts classmates.
In 2005, students involved in drama performance outscored the national average SAT score by 35 points on the verbal portion and 24 points on the math section.