Want to boost literacy? Teach your child to imagine the unimaginable? Cultivate curiosity? Get thee to the theater, and bring your kids or better yet get them involved in theatre.
With the introduction of No Child Left Behind, many schools that used to round out reading, writing, and ‘arithmetic with a yearly jaunt to see Shakespeare in action, or Jack ascending the beanstalk, have now scrapped these field trips in favor of spending more time preparing for standardized tests and drilling “fundamentals”. The question is, how can you, as a parent, pick up the slack?
No one would argue the importance of literacy or fractions, but study after study has shown that the arts are more than fluff. Longitudinal data of 25,000 students involved in the arts, conducted at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education by Dr. James Catterall, shows that consistent participation greatly improves academic performance and significantly bumps up standardized test scores. Students who make time for the arts are also more involved in community service, and less likely to drop out of school. And we’re not just talking about upper middle class kids. These facts remain, regardless of a child’s socio-economic background. Theater also connects to the importance of reading. A play has the ability to jump a story off the page and bring it to life. This can be a revelation to regular bookworms, but also a real boon to
Most importantly , for me, theater helps connect the head to the heart and gives them not only confidence and self- esteem but teaches the subtleties of communication that are often lost in our texting and face booking society. Our children need to learn to communicate in other ways rather than just typing on a device. So much has been lost in this new wave of communication. Facial expression, social graces, social restraint and the ability to actually see the reaction your words have on another.
It’s time to get back to soem basics and we can do that by not only encoraging our children to put down the phone and log off facebook but start interacting with others and putting themselves in others shoes. A great way to start teaching this dying art is involving them in the arts.