Why incorporate theatre education into a Homeschooling environment?

There are so many results and experience that come from a theatre/Drama education that are intangible and impossible to quantitatively measure. However, the benefits of a theatre education cannot be debated. Theatre integration provides 4 core values for a homeschooling education. Students gain a greater capacity to explore others’ stories, demonstrate stronger interpersonal communication skills, increase confidence, and access new experience which can open up their creative minds. By incorporating theatre education into the lives of children, we can help them grow and develop in ways like never before, providing a better-rounded and fully encompassing educational experience.

  1. A greater capacity to explore the stories of others

One of the major benefits of drama education is that it exposes students to a wide variety of stories. Children can learn to empathize with characters, explore different points of view, and try to understand the world through the eyes of a character that is different from themselves. Theatre requires research and students need to understand the world of the play, the dominant ideologies, the prevailing perspectives of that world, and how their character functions within it. Theatre gives the opportunity to explore all time periods across history from unique perspectives. This comment shows the impact that drama education can have on not only enabling students to better understand the stories of others, but also become capable of more compassion.

One student wrote of Theatre A Go-Go's Homeschool Program, “I would recommend the programs because you get to do lots of fun stuff and it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. I learned about being a different character than who I am.”

  1. Stronger interpersonal communication skills

In a similar fashion to understanding the stories of others and relating to other characters, theatre education also helps students relate to each other. Children need to interact with other children in order to grow and develop psychologically and socially. Theatre is an activity that inevitably gives children the opportunity to interact with each other while learning to collaborate. Many students who have participated in theatre education report having a sense of family with their peers, classmates, and fellow actors. Various reports have shown that “when arts are integrated, a sense of ‘belonging’ is generated” (McCammon and Østerlind). Being in a collaborative theatrical environment can help children learn to work together, respect each other’s differences, and have deep, meaningful interactions with their peers.

One student wrote of Theatre A Go-Go's Homeschool Program, “It teaches me to work with a team and be patient with myself and others” - student

  1. Increased confidence in an individual’s personality and abilities

Theatre education can instill confidence in students on many levels. First of all, students who participate in drama often become more confident in themselves and their personalities. Some students even say that they join drama to “practice to become more confident” (McCammonand Østerlind 96). One hundred percent of parents who filled out our survey stated that one change they noticed in their child through this process was an increase in confidence. When students get the experience of putting themselves on stage and allowing an audience to experience their words, actions, and emotions, it can instill a great deal of confidence in those performers. Drama students tend to be more confident public speakers; they also tend to be confident in front of others in any everyday situation as they have confidence instilled in their personalities.

One parent wrote of Theatre A Go-Go's Homeschool Program,“I was thoroughly impressed and pleased with this program. Both of my sons tend to be quiet in new environments, so I feel this program went along to boost their self-awareness and overall confidences.”

  1. An opportunity to find new talents and gifts

One of the four basic needs of young people is new experiences (McCammon and Østerlind). Every theatre class is a new experience. Students will always have the opportunity to read a new play, meet a new character, or explore something different onstage. Allowing students to find these new experiences is crucial for their growth and development. Research suggests that “within each student there are unique psychological barriers which impede creative interactions” (McCammon and Østerlind). This means that every student has the capacity to create art, but it requires a consistent effort to break down these barriers which impede the imaginative and explorative processes. Theatre is actually one of the strongest forces at breaking down these psychological barriers. McCammon and Østerlind’s research shows that “through play and fantasy, young people not only develop cognitive skills, but also their imaginations”. Theatre education, therefore, does more than simply allow for a creative outlet of fantastical play. It also develops cognitive skills and the imagination, which both help demolish the aforementioned “psychological barriers” that can restrict creative work and discoveries. One of the parents from our homeschool theatre class commented that the theatre education her son received “made him come alive.” She also noted that he discovered one of his gifts. This student believes that acting is a gift of his and at a young age now is excited by the prospect of performing for others and exploring the theatrical practice. This new experience for him, coupled with his increase in confidence, has made him “come alive.” Every student is different, and every child is a unique individual learner. Exposing children to Theatre education can provide them with a different and new experience that could have potentially life-changing results for their learning, as well as their cognitive and psychological development.

“The camp was a good overall experience for my son. It gave him a chance to try something new that he has had an interest in, but has been a bit afraid of trying. It was a comfortable setting for him to explore this area. It increased his confidence in performing in front of people. He had a fun time!” - Parent

Following the completion of a HomeSchool Drama Class, one mother wrote, “Theatre A-Go-Go Calgary is what every parent wants for their child, to be appreciated for who he or she is. The children are seen as wonderfully creative, lovable persons, delighting in discovery. There is evidence of joy in the smiles, laughter and connections with one another that grows a child’s confidence. They are living and internalizing a new way of being and learning together. Watching my daughter grow in courage and engagement was beautiful to witness. As a parent, I would like to invite you to give the gift of helping your child to be their personal best."

Theatre A Go-Go provides the tools and environment where students of all backgrounds can gather together and have fun learning about the theatre while simultaneously learning the inherent life skills that a Theatre Arts education provides.

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