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Today's Family Magazine

Take A Bow!

Feb 28, 2022 12:44PM ● By Today's Family

Students performing at the Beck Center for the Arts.

By Christina Katz

Parents know that some kids are more dramatic than others.  So why not give emotionally expressive students an outlet by getting them involved in theater?  You likely already know if your child has a flair for the theatrical, and educational programs can offer kids benefits that are life-changing.

Opportunities to participate in full-length theatrical productions are typically available starting in middle school.  If your school district lacks funding for the arts, you won’t have to look far in your community to find regional theatre companies with student programs.  Opportunities outside of school include reputable community theater companies, theater education programs, and even training from seasoned professionals.  Whichever paths your child decides to pursue, do your homework to make sure programs provide a safe, structured environment for your budding thespian.

When kids invest in drama education, it will exponentially enrich their lives in return.  Theater is an excellent creative outlet for multi-talented children as well as for kids who are unsure about their abilities.  Here are ten reasons to encourage your child to participate in theater.

Make new friends.  Any successful theatre production is fueled by a constellation of interpersonal connections.  If you have a shy or socially reticent child, theater can be a great way to get them socially engaged.  The all-hands-on-deck aspect of theater can quickly overcome a hesitant participant.  Before kids can say “William Shakespeare,” they will find themselves an appreciated part of the team.

Learn collaboration. Perhaps the greatest benefit of theater is experiencing how each person’s contributions are crucial to mounting a successful show.  Whether children are acting, singing and dancing or bringing the show to life backstage, the show can only succeed with creative input from every member of the group.  Collaboration is not only a helpful lesson for school; it’s also a valuable lesson for life.

Inspire passion.  Musicals are a cool part of culture, and theatre kids love learning as much as they can about Broadway, emerging actors, and the latest shows available to perform.  Dramatic kids may feel like they have finally found an outlet where their flair for the dramatic serves a purpose once they are acting, singing and dancing for an audience. 

Gain confidence.  There are often limited performing arts opportunities available in schools, which is why theater can be so helpful in a well-rounded education.  Theater pulls kids out of themselves and gets them involved in something greater than themselves in ways that engage their minds, bodies, and emotions.  The more kids perform, the bigger the confidence boost, which can carry over into the rest of their school experience.

Increase emotional intelligence. My daughter’s theater camp director always calls theater “empathy training.”  There is nothing like walking in another person’s shoes, saying their words and imaging their thoughts and point of view to build thoughtfulness in kids.  In a world where intolerance seems to be on the rise, empathy training seems like a crucial skill.

Appreciate culture.  You might be surprised to learn how few high school students have been to a play or a musical.  If you want your child to have a more cultured childhood than you did, attending shows is a great way to experience new worlds within driving distance.  School theater groups often take field trips to see shows and may even participate in talk-backs with the actors afterwards.

Build community.  There are few school activities that engage the extended community the way theater does.  Parent and family members attend school shows, and so do community members, business owners and school administrators.  Having a flourishing theater program in local schools can be a pride point for parents, the school district and the community at large.

Experience contagious enthusiasm.  If you have never witnessed the passion theater kids have for bonding with each other as they mount a show, you and your child are in for a treat.  For kids experiencing challenges at home, the theater can become a secure home away from home.  Ask any child who has just moved to a new school or who is trying to navigate a parents’ divorce if they would like to join a community of immersive learners, and they might be willing to try it.

Improve communication skills.  At some point, most students need to impress a college admissions board or employer. Theater can increase a student’s chances of scoring a spot since it boosts both verbal and nonverbal communication skills, not to mention auditioning practice. Theater kids can even use imagination, observation and listening skills to determine the right choices for their future.  Parents might want to consider ways theater skills like articulation, vocal projection, and emotional expression can help students ace future school and job interviews.

Enjoy school more.  Theater people are generally more diverse, tolerant and inclusive than most.  Compelling acting requires gesturing and projecting the voice to bring words on the page to life.  If your child is having trouble fitting in or struggling to keep grades up, encourage him to go see what’s happening in the performing arts hall.  Theater can become a great motivator for kids to increase school attendance, keep their grades up, and make memories that last a lifetime.


Not sure your child will enjoy theater? 
There is only one way to find out.  Let kids audition with reasonable expectations.  Give theater administrators an opportunity to get to know kids and make decisions about where they fit best in the show.  Parents may want to jump in and advocate for kids, but try to hang back.  Encourage kids to identify and go after parts they want.  If you stay out of the process as much as possible, kids can take ownership of their experience, which is ideal. 

Ways to participate in theater beyond acting

  • Be a dramaturge
  • Run the light board
  • Find the sound effects
  • Be a stagehand
  • Build and paint sets
  • Provide accompaniment during rehearsals
  • Play an instrument in the orchestra
  • Usher at the theater doors
If your child is not an actor, here are more ways kids can contribute to a theatrical production.  Contact the show director to find out if any of these opportunities are available for your student.

Opportunities for parent volunteers
Don’t let the kids have all the fun! Volunteering in school theater can
be fun and rewarding.  If you’ve got skills in these areas, your school’s
program can probably use them.
  • Fundraising and sponsorships.
  • Building and painting sets.
  • Sewing costumes.
  • Picking up costumes, props, lights, microphones, and makeup kits.
  • Supplying snacks for the cast and crew.
  • Selling tickets in the box office.
  • Contributing to the playbill.
  • Shuttling kids around to find gifts and cards.
  • Hosting the post-production party.
  • Filming and editing the show for memento DVDs.
  • Helping tear down set, store items used, and clean dressing rooms.