Why is speech and drama good for your kids and teenagers?
Your child or teen can experience the power of laughter and the gift of confidence from taking speech and drama classes.
As a speech and drama teacher and co-founder of Head Held High the most common question parents ask me is: “Will speech and drama lessons help my child become more confident?”
The problem with answering this is that the word ‘confidence’ means a myriad of different things to different people.
It’s much easier though, if you consider what this question is actually asking.
When I hear the question, I hear parents actually asking… “Will speech and drama lessons help my child loosen up, relax and be themselves around others?”
Many parents tell me their child or teenager is fun-loving, playful and relaxed in their family environment. Yet they’re tense, guarded and nervous in social situations.
They simply want their child to be the same ‘confident’ person in social situations with peers, that they are at home with family.
Speech and drama can help with that. It has the power to encourage young people to trust the feeling of releasing their free spirit, in situations where they don’t normally feel able to do so.
There’s no such thing as ‘you don’t fit’ at speech and drama
Before I go on, you may be wondering what the difference between ‘speech and drama’ and ‘drama’ lessons are? It’s an excellent question.
As a very simplified explanation… drama classes lean towards developing acting, singing and dancing skills in large group environments, focused towards stage performance. Whereas speech and drama lessons see students learning a blend of public speaking skills, communication skills and acting skills, in small group environments, with the focus being on developing essential life skills.
In speech and drama lessons students can get out of their heads and take full part in activities that encourage silliness, quick thinking, high-energy, ultimately allowing students’ true essence to shine.
Speech and drama offers uncountable ways for any student, be they shy or boisterous, to truly be themselves, in relaxed and easy ways. It’s a performing art that helps each student feel safe to be the person they are at home, in front of their speech and drama peers.
Everyone gets a chance to talk about and explore the things they love in my lessons. Just as importantly, everyone gets to listen to what other people love. We recognise similarities and celebrate them. We recognise differences, and celebrate them too.
We perform (safely) for each other. We make mistakes sometimes, and other times we ‘nail it’. Whatever happens, we encourage and clap for each other!
How I encourage laughter
When I was a child myself, I was lucky enough to do speech and drama lessons with a wonderful teacher, for many years. As an adult looking back on those lessons now, one of my most powerful memories is of laughter. Laughter with my classmates. Laughter with my teacher. Laughter with, and at, myself.
Children and teens are more likely to join in when they feel they are part of the crowd. Fun behavior in a group setting can build confidence that it’s OK to ‘let go’ and be silly.
So, my speech and drama lessons always have activities that ‘lower guards’. Role playing is excellent for inducing laughter and can be liberating for children and teens alike.
Speech and drama also recognises the power of hearty laughter… The beauty of speech and drama is that it’s a space to let go!
Making others laugh appropriately boosts confidence levels. Suddenly peers are less intimidating, and it’s easier to just ‘be yourself’.
The magic of laughter is observable
I see it over and over again in my classes… The student that walks into their first lesson quiet, reserved and timid. They see others around them feeling comfortable in their own skin. They watch their speech and drama peers experimenting, improvising and exploring. They experience the magic of laughing with others, at others, and at themselves. Within a year that same student is then able to perform confidently and proudly in a public setting in front of their parents.