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Child's development

New research shows theatre can significantly improve children's academic performance

Will Longman
Will Longman

Theatre and live performance can have a significantly positive effect on a child's academic performance, as well as having a positive effect on a young person's social skills in later life, new research has shown.

The study, conducted by Dr Natasha Kirkham at Birkbeck University and commissioned by Encore Tickets, shows that attending live theatre performance has three key benefits on children: improved social tolerance; better academic performance; positive social change.

It showed that engaging with performing arts can boost the academic performance of the average child by 4% when drama is part of the curriculum. Kirkham also found that experiencing a story on stage rather than viewing it on a screen leads to a deeper understanding of the content. This could have implications for students studying plays or drama as part of the curriculum.

The social benefits of theatre and performance include better self-efficacy in children and teenagers, as well as making them better equipped to broach complex subjects.

Commenting on the study, Kirkham said: "Theatre can improve social bonding, allow for emotions to be explored in a safe space, develop the emotional and cognitive skills to deal with a complicated world, and kick-start conversations about important issues."

The research is a follow-up to a previous study conducted for Encore Tickets which shows that attending the theatre can be the equivalent to 30 minutes cardio exercise, and causes theatregoers heartbeats to synchronise.

Originally published on

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