How many elementary school plays do children get to perform in? Do schools have time for plays anymore? Do children ever get to act out dramatically?
Drama can’t be tested. So plays might become a burden for teachers forced to worry about school accountability.
Since NCLB, and no excuses for poor test scores, became popular, putting on plays for most schools went the way of the dinosaur. With the increase of competency-based learning (computer learning), who has time for plays?
That’s unfortunate because plays teach children many skills, and they should be offered in the free curriculum of a public school.
Children have to participate in outside theater groups if they want to participate in a play. Children whose parents are not able to take them to such programs, or can’t afford the program, are out of luck.
Busy parents might not know their child would like performing, and some children might not know it themselves—if they are never given the chance to perform.
Rest assured, there are nonprofits and for-profits who will likely push themselves into public schools to organize plays after school or during the summer. There’s money to be made in a switch to partnerships and privatization.
But elementary schools should not require such outside groups to put on plays that are good for children.
Here are some of the benefits children get by putting on plays in elementary school. Plays do the following:
- Help children socialize.
- Teach discipline.
- Help children learn to depend on each other.
- Provide an outlet for children with disabilities.
- Highlight teamwork.
- Help children with body movement.
- Provide good literature.
- Tap into a child’s imagination.
- Build self-confidence.
- Involve costume-making.
- Can be a form of therapy.
- Teach comprehension and vocabulary.
- Help children overcome their fear of speaking.
- Develop speaking skills.
- Welcome parents to school.
- Show off a child’s talents.
- Generate school pride.
- Teach organization skills.
- Show the parts coming together to create the whole.
- Involve artwork for scenes and props.
- Deal with math skills for making scenes and props.
- Involve music.
- Bring the community together.
- Positively highlight reading and language.
- Address memory.
- Help make future actors.
- Are a welcome change from the usual routine.
- Make everyone happy.
- Bring children together culturally.
- Involve inclusion.
Most children like to be a part of a play. They work on this because they enjoy it.
I was fortunate to attend an elementary school that put on two plays a year. The best takeaway I got from participating in those plays involve wonderful memories that still enrich my life decades later.
What memories will children get to recall later in their lives—test score results?
Frambaugh, Kritzer, Stephanie Buelow, Jamie Simpson Steele. “What are Disciplinary Literacies in Dance and Drama in the Elementary Grades?” Journal of Language & Literacy Education. 11 (1): Spring, 2-15.
McLauchlan, Debra. “Playlinks: A Theater-for-Young Audiences Artist-in-the-Classroom Project.” Pedagoies: An International Journal. 12(1):130-142, 2017.
Adomat, Donna Sayers. “Actively Engaging With Stories Through Drama: Portraits of Two Young Readers.” The Reading Teacher. 62(8): 628-636. 2009.