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South Mississippi Community Theater: Enrichment That Helps Kids THRIVE

South Mississippi Community Theater: Enrichment That Helps Kids THRIVE

As parents, we have so much to teach our children, and our responsibility is to support their learning. We use books, apps, tutors and other resources to support their learning in science, math, reading and life. Another resource we can use is extracurricular or enrichment activities. One of these resources is the local community theater.

Children are naturally curious and naturally creative. They color purple cows and pink skies, or create songs and poems on a whim. They dance even when there is no beat. They make up their own games. Supporting this creativity through community children’s theater is a great way to help kids grow.

Here are some ways children’s theater can be beneficial to your child:

Increases creativity

This is one area of development that improves the more it is used! Figuring out how to tell a story expands creative thinking. Theater offers the space to do this safely and more comfortably.

Improves communication skills 

Verbal and nonverbal communication develop through the expression of theater. Young actors learn to enunciate and project their voices clearly for others to hear. They also begin to become more aware of body language and facial expressions, and understand how these are used to communicate feelings and thoughts to others. Children can also learn to empathize with others as they see perspectives of other characters portrayed in a play.

Can make tough situations easier to address

Theater can open the door to conversations related to tough life situations, and can serve as a source of reflection when navigating future life experiences.

Shows the benefit of teamwork

Because a team is needed to put on a play, children learn to work with a team and experience the rewards of doing so. They begin to understand that everyone’s role is important, which builds their own self esteem through their performance or contribution to a performance. 

Builds patience

The work of the theater can teach children patience and the value of doing things correctly. The repetitive nature of practicing to prepare for a performance develops this skill.  

Teaches flexibility and how to adapt

Despite the perfect work of practice, mistakes happen in real time; children can learn to improvise, adapt and be flexible to put on a good show.

Builds self-esteem

As they participate in a play and accomplish the task of doing a show, children can be congratulated on their successes and hold onto the pride and joy of that moment; it becomes a memory, and reminder, of what they are able to do.

Get them started

Begin introducing children to theater by taking them to kid-appropriate plays. Children may enjoy a stage version of their favorite movies and be more willing to sit through a play sooner than you think. 

Get kids’ feet wet by putting on a play as a family. Perform it at home, with an audience of older siblings, grandparents or close friends. Use old Halloween costumes or odd clothing to create easy costumes. Scripts can be found online, or children can act out their favorite movie scenes for a more familiar role.

Once a child feels comfortable to try it out, contact a local theater to discover opportunities for kids and families. Some theaters offer opportunities for kids to work behind the scenes with a parent or other guardian. This can be a way to get shy children involved while they work up the bravery to go on stage.

Whether on the stage or behind the scenes, the benefits of theater are clear. It might be just the thing to bring out your child’s most creative self.

Alicia Stevens, a resident of Pearl River County, is a freelance writer, wife and mother of two who enjoys traveling with her family and friends.

Some theaters in southern Mississippi:

Biloxi Little Theatre

Address: 220 Lee St., Biloxi

Phone: (228) 432-8543

Website: 4blt.org

Center Stage Theatre

Address: 2670 Rue Palafox, Biloxi

Phone: (228) 388-6258

Website: Centerstagebiloxi.org

Gulfport Little Theatre

Address: 2600 13th Ave., Gulfport

Phone: (228) 864-7983

Website: Glt.jaylynn.com

Bay St. Louis Little Theatre

Address: 398 Blaize Ave., Bay St. Louis

Phone: (228) 467-9024

Website: Bsllt.org

Laurel Little Theatre

Address: 408 North 5th Ave., Laurel

Phone: (601) 428-0140

Website: Laurellittletheatre.com

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