According to the Oxford Student’s Dictionary, the word ‘Drama’ relates to an exciting or emotional series of events.
Bryony Foley and Becky Manning, Drama teachers at Alleyn’s Junior School, tell us about the benefits of Drama for children and how to get your child involved.
Drama helps children explore feelings, make sense of events, and encourages empathy, collaboration, and teamwork. This helps to increase a child’s confidence and self-belief – all while having fun.
Encouraging the young ones
Remember that a love of performance often starts with the dressing up box and you are your child’s first audience and play-mate. Help them to make the most of it:
- Read to your child and tell them stories to ignite their imagination.
- Have fun with role-play. Taking on the role of a character in a story will help your child gain insight into what they are reading and connect it to the real world. Role-play can also be a powerful tool to prepare for real life situations, like a first day at school.
- Use puppets: Puppets can give a shy child an opportunity to speak through something else. You can create a simple puppet together with a card and craft sticks and make them into any character you choose.
- Play language games to develop language and imagination:One favourite is a word-at-a-time story, where you take turns telling a story, one word at a time. Children soon learn that what they say needs to make semantic sense, but may be as wacky and funny as their imagination dictates.
- Use improvisation: A simple start is by letting them dance around to music, and freeze when the music stops. At a signal, they come to life as any character they like, moving and speaking as that character.
Being part of an audience
Watching theatre is thought provoking, educational and fun. There are plenty of opportunities in our local area to see performances, whatever your child’s age, most notably the Unicorn Theatre and the Polka Theatre, but you can also benefit from innumerable opportunities to see productions of every genre in central London.
Drama in and out of school
Many schools encourage drama and your child may have the opportunity to participate in collaborative performances such as class assemblies and plays or in individual performances such as talent shows, comedy evenings and poetry competitions. Even a reluctant performer will find a way to express themselves, especially when given the opportunity to ‘become’ another character, and all children will benefit from the confidence boost these experiences offer.
Outside school, there are many local groups where children can explore their dramatic instincts and express themselves, and a local club can be a fantastic way of giving children an opportunity to experience drama and make new friends. Here are some links to help you get started in immersing your children and in the wonderful world of drama:
This article first appeared in the October 2018 issue of SE22 magazine.