How Does Drama Support the Development of Social Skills?
— by Kari Peddle, Grade 6 Teacher
A lot of what we learn at school leans into what is known as the “Hidden Curriculum.” Formal lessons may convey the value of x and y, while hidden lessons relay the value of sticking up for a friend. “Hidden Curriculum” moments can be found throughout our day to day life. These are the lessons that put value and importance on human connection. One way to structure these lessons is through the Dramatic Arts. The reality is, there is a lot to learn in life! It takes some people years to learn how to react to a friend’s not-so-great-looking new haircut. (Are you still working on this one?) Taking advantage of a fleeting teachable moment is beneficial, but equally valuable is using the dramatic arts to address these essential nuances to life.
BUILDS SELF CONFIDENCE AND INCREASES RISK TAKING
A large part of being social, is having the self-confidence to put yourself out there where you can possibly be rejected. It can be challenging to be in front of a group of people and articulate yourself effectively. Whether it be relaying game instructions on the playground or doing a presentation in front of the whole class, it is a benefit to increase your comfort level around people. Unfamiliar situations can bring on a sense of uneasiness. The improv model of, “Yes, and…” can provide and open the door for each child to explore those feelings. Flexing the “risk” muscle continuously helps reinforce that it can be rewarding to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Students learn to trust their abilities and ideas.
ENCOURAGES TEAMWORK AND CO-OPERATION
How do you communicate your ideas? How do you listen to other’s ideas respectfully? Drama is a collaboration of different players and often it relies on a team effort or ensemble performance. Every activity, from playing drama games, performing skits, to preparing for shows or developing scripts, requires co-operation and teamwork. Combining and compromising on creative ideas is required for the best outcome. This requires all those taking part to engage in discussions and be open to one another’s feedback.
DEVELOPS EMPATHY AND IMPROVES EMOTIONAL ARTICULACY
Drama sessions create opportunities for people of all ages to practise their emotional experiences. Students learn to try out a range of emotions in a safe environment. Understanding characters, roles and the subtext of plays and skits, allows students to relate better to different situations, backgrounds, and cultures. It encourages them to show compassion and tolerance for others.
BROADENS PERSPECTIVE AND CRITICAL THINKING
What is a critical thinker?
A critical thinker has a point of view but can see value in the opinions of others. Children are naturally inquisitive about the world around them. Drama gives students the freedom to rehearse roles, characters and a broad spectrum of life situations. Overall, this allows children to step outside of themselves and get another point of view. Drama guides and supports children’s problem-solving skills, while at the same time, works to encourage an increasing awareness of how to solve issues. Drama motivates children to question, respond, and explain what they are feeling and thinking and present solutions.