The performing arts help children develop a range of beneficial life skills, such as quick thinking, problem solving, and building self confidence. Theater strengthens empathy by asking a child to embody what their character is feeling and experiencing, and putting on a play also requires students to work as a team. In Waldorf education, students are involved in class plays and musical performances every year. We see the wide-ranging positive impact on our students and the powerful boost to their self confidence that the performing arts provide.
In Waldorf schools, each grade does a play every year, and the theme of the play is often inspired by the curriculum. We give time and space for these performances and experiences because we recognize that participating in theater gives students confidence. As research supports, students who participate in theater during their formative school years reap more specific benefits as well. It gives children an opportunity to face and overcome anxiety, allows them to express new emotions, and can be an enormous boost to their self-esteem. As we see a child or a class grow over the years, it is truly impressive to watch the transformation and capacity-building happen in real time.
Feeling worried or anxious before even a small public speaking engagement is something most adults still struggle with. Children experience these feelings as well prior to a performance, but by giving them access to that uncomfortable feeling on a regular basis through theater, and teaching them skills to overcome it, can have a lasting effect on students. RWS creates these opportunities for discomfort and growth on a daily and weekly basis, as well as the annual play performance. During our Friday Gatherings, each class takes turns sharing things they are working on it class, be it a poem, a dance, a song, or even reports they’ve written. These opportunities to stand up in front of their peers can be nerve wracking and also teach important lessons. After a performance in which a child has overcome that feeling of anxiety, they will feel increasingly confident that they can feel an uncomfortable feeling and still move forward and be successful. What a great life lesson!
Furthermore, participating in theater also allows children to try on an entirely new persona, and potentially express emotions that they aren’t able to in their normal lives. A child who isn’t able to express a certain emotion, might be able to when in character, or it may open the door for parents and students to have a more open conversation about sensitive subjects that the child is experiencing through their theater opportunity. We know that these experiences are outlets for students to practice and process feelings, develop empathy, and open up conversations. The teachers can use those moments as opportunities to drive a point home.
Lastly, performing in a theater production can have a lasting effect on a child’s self-esteem. The group ensemble work that’s demanded of a theater production allows children to experience what it means to be a valued member of a group working towards the same end goal. There also is a sense of that instant positive feedback that comes from hearing the audience laugh at your line, or giving a standing ovation at the end of the show. That feeling can stick with a child for a lifetime!
Want to see how Richmond Waldorf School students bring drama into the curriculum? Check out our upcoming class plays! Seventh grade is gearing up for their performance of Wizard of Oz in a few weeks! It’s been fantastic to see how our Class Teacher, Music Teacher, and Movement Teacher are all coming together to support these students, provide meaningful experiences, and help our students to have a fantastic performance and boost to their confidence.
At Richmond Waldorf School, we recognize that our student’s physical, social and emotional well-being are a key part of their ability to learn and thrive. Our holistic approach to education prioritizes critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century.
We would love you to explore if the Waldorf approach is right for your child! Join an information session or meet with our Enrollment Administrator to learn more about Richmond Waldorf School.
Choosing a school is a very important decision in a family’s life. Our admissions process is designed to give you as much information as you need to make an informed decision about enrolling your children. Whenever possible, we encourage all families to book a visit when considering Richmond Waldorf School. We want to meet you! It is just as important for us to know who you are and what you are looking for in a school, as it is for you to know who we are and what Waldorf education is about.