March welcomes ‘Happy Theatre In Our Schools Month,’ and there are a million reasons to celebrate. Ensuring schools have drama education is paramount to well-rounded student development and heavily impacts a student’s overall academic achievement. On The Stage explores why theatre in schools is so important and the many ways in which it positively influences student success – in and out of the classroom. 

7 Ways Theatre Impacts Student Success

Creation of Community

Much like other hobbies or clubs in an academic setting, theatre fosters a community for everyone involved – by creating bonds between actors, crew members, and theatre leadership.

You may be wondering … how a sense of belonging impacts academic achievement. Well, if a student feels at home or welcome within a certain sect of their school, they have a stronger motivation to attend it. Keeping students engaged in certain aspects of their curriculum will keep them on track. If a student body has better attendance as a whole, this leads to stronger test scores, more engagement in after-school activities, and higher graduation rates. 

An Emphasis on English and Language Arts

Much like an English or composition class, a great theatre program encourages students to read and analyze their scripts, delving into the worlds their characters inhabit. Alongside an improvement in reading comprehension, theatre requires critical thinking and analysis. 

As a theatre leader, make sure you’re fostering an atmosphere where students are thinking critically about the show, not just memorizing lines or choreography. Alongside this, encourage creativity choices and enhance creative writing skills through character work. 

Fostering of Empathy and Emotional Intelligence 

Through emotional connections with others, theatre helps students to better understand their fellow man, creating a strong emotional intelligence that can help with peer-to-peer relationships. 

Within the theatre, empathy can be gained through the study of people outside a student’s own circles or people in history. This, in turn, makes students more well-rounded, educated citizens of the world, capable of empathizing with those in the past and present. 

In short, theatre has the unique ability to introduce students to different cultures and perspectives, helping them to develop a better understanding of the world. Cultural awareness and education lead to greater empathy and stronger emotional intelligence, which will benefit a student on stage and in the classroom. 

An Increase in Confidence 

When fostered correctly, theatre provides a safe, warm, and supportive space for people of all ages and skill levels to explore their emotions and develop self-confidence. As a theatre leader, you can create this environment by encouraging your actors to take risks, express themselves freely, and connect with others to build self-esteem. 

Over time, this confidence will spill over into other areas of a student’s life – from friendships and hobbies to classroom participation. 

An Emphasis on Science, Math, and Design

We know what you’re thinking – science and math in theatre? But remember, not all of your students want to be in the spotlight.

After all, theatre productions sometimes require students to help with the design and construction of sets, props, and costumes. Oftentimes, these tasks involve math and science, the understanding of the properties of materials, and even the principles of light and sound

From a back-of-house perspective, productions often involve budgeting and financial planning, too – so why not involve interested students in this aspect? This can help to improve students’ math skills and apply them to practical situations. 

The Encouragement of Open Communication

It’s no secret that audiences and cast members who struggle with mental health concerns can feel less alone when seeing these mental health issues portrayed on stage. By feeling less alone, stigmas surrounding mental health can wane for students. 

Through theatre, students can feel free to discuss their mental health struggles more openly, reflect on their mental states, and build empathy for others suffering from similar issues. This open and honest environment leads to healing, and a mentally strong student will excel both in after-school activities and in the classroom. 

Creation of Career-Readiness 

Alongside learning hard skills – like reading comprehension, science, math, and design, theatre fosters and improves a modicum of soft skills that are necessary to excel in the ‘real world.’ Some of the soft skills theatre can teach a student include:

  • Time Management – Alongside juggling academic requirements and other extracurricular activities, theatre’s time commitment is no joke, with rehearsals, performances, behind-the-scenes work, and more. That being said, a student has to learn to manage their time effectively in order to succeed, both in theatre and in life.
  • Leadership – Whether a student is in the lead role or the ensemble, leadership is critical to a successful theatre showcase. Students in theatre learn to take charge and make quick decisions. 
  • Public Speaking – Presentations are a major component of a variety of professional jobs, and theatre is a great way to hone those skills at a lower level. Bye bye, stagefright! 
  • Stress Management – From the woes of tech week to learning how to regulate emotions when coming off an intense scene, theatre helps to manage emotional reactions and work well with a variety of people. 
  • Adaptability – Let’s say the show is tomorrow, and a scene needs to be totally re-worked. A student can’t freak – instead, they have to learn to roll with the punches and adapt to the new surroundings, which is critical in a fast-paced business environment, too. 

A Look at the Facts 

If you aren’t sold on the benefits of theatre in the world of education, the data is on our side. In fact, individual students who participate in the arts often have stronger academic prowess than those who don’t; the College Entrance Examination Board reported that between 2004-2011, students involved in drama performance scored an average of 65.5 points higher on the verbal component and 35.5 points higher in the math component of the SAT. Additionally, students who took courses in drama study or appreciation scored, on average, 55 points higher on verbal and 26 points higher on math than their non-arts classmates.

As it pertains to graduation rates, students with high levels of arts involvement are less likely to drop out of school, according to The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies, created in 2012. Additionally, they report that drop-out rates correlate with student levels of involvement in the arts- the more they’re involved, the more likely it will be that they graduate. 

How On The Stage Can Help 

Here at On The Stage (OTS), we are consistently advocating for arts in the classroom. If you share our passion for theatre and want to improve your theatre program, OTS provides a variety of assets and resources to get you started.

First, download the Advocating for the Arts eBook, which can help you build a bright future for your school’s creative programs and secure the administrative support your students and your program deserve.

Arm yourself with knowledge by reading our How Theatre Programs Help Students Thrive resource, and don’t miss our informative new eBook: 12 Reasons to Create a Consistent Arts Experience Across Your District, which uncovers the extraordinary potential of a consistent arts experience across the entire school district. 

If you’re looking for a little extra help, we have you covered. Book a personalized demo with On The Stage today. 

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