(Danielle Wood’s article appeared on Education.com, 6/1/14.)
The children's theater movement is led by Europe, but the U.S. is not far behind. And we're not just talking about the bustling theater town of New York. The third largest children’s theater in the world is tucked away in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Other mid-sized cities—from Dallas, to Tempe, to Nashville, are also cooking up kids’ fare in full-time children venues.
With the introduction of No Child Left Behind, many schools that used to round out reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic 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.