What are the benefits of drama in primary schools?

Written by margie griffin hillebrech
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What are the benefits of drama in primary schools?
Creating a scene (playing children image by Marzanna Syncerz from Fotolia.com)

Drama is not merely a means of entertainment. Children learn by imitation. As they grow, they mimic adults in actions and words, playing with toys that copy grown-up objects such as cars and groceries. They learn nurturing by playing with dolls. This learning comes naturally, and educators see the benefits of using these techniques to teach through creative dramatics or the presentation of a play.

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Creative Dramatics

Creative dramatics uses drama as a learning technique. Drama encourages imagination and creativity in children. Children learn, using improvisation, story dramatisation and other techniques. For example, pretending to go grocery shopping helps with math, socialisation and language skills.

Since children learn by imitating, they can enact situations that they might not normally experience. Having a tea party is a way to teach etiquette, grammar and social skills. Holding that same tea party in a French class can have the same effect while improving French grammar.

Putting On a Play

Use drama to help children learn by producing a play. You can put on a play simply in the classroom or more elaborately in the school's auditorium. Reading and producing a play aids in English and Language Arts, because the student must understand the play before he can perform it. It is also helpful in developing cooperation skills, which lead to better social skills. Many times, performing can assist in coordination and balance, too. Set building, costuming and working props teaches art, Family and Consumer Sciences and Shop skills.

Being a part of a production, whether backstage or onstage, helps to foster confidence and self worth. Working together to achieve a goal mimics many adult experiences.

Watching a Performance

Schools sometimes bring in an outside company to perform a play for an assembly or take some students to see a production. This can easily be incorporated into a Language Arts or English curriculum, and often the performance company will offer suggestions for classroom applications. Depending on the production, other classes could also incorporate the material into their studies. For example, a Shakespearean play would help a history class learning English history to get a feel for the subject or a play about folktales from other countries would work in well with some Geography lessons.

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