Why performing helps young boys shine
Exploring roles. Seeing and responding with empathy. Forming connections and challenging conventions. The power of the performing arts, and the benefits for young boys, shouldn’t be underestimated.
Have you ever stood back and watched your son play? You’ve probably noticed that his world is interwoven with exploring other worlds, investigating characters through role play and feeling the joy of improvisation. Add into the mix the freedom to dance and use expressive movement and you have a recipe for success.
Through play, boys have the freedom to explore possibilities beyond the restrictions of our adult boundaries.
Young boys’ minds allow this to happen anywhere, at any time. The greater challenge lies in us adults embracing, enabling and celebrating the performance when it presents itself.
There are a number of reasons why we should embrace the power of performing arts, and they have nothing to do with seeing your son’s name in lights.
Encourages creative thinking
Performing arts enable boys to expand their creative thinking in a world where this is one of the most valued traits of all – creativity is vital for innovation and entrepreneurship (the 21st Century skills we hear so much about). However, creative thinking isn’t just great for your son’s future career prospects. When performing, boys need to think on their feet and collaborate, just as we need to in real life. Through performance, boys learn to be adaptable, and to be aware and respectful of others.
Watching a room full of boys dance is not just a lesson in joyful expression, but also in confidence. I often find that performing arts offers those boys who might usually shy away from taking the lead a safe space in which to step forward with confidence.
Feeling a beat, appreciating the power of belonging through class choreography and an awareness of how their body can move with control and fluidity at the same time create an authentic connection to their peers.
A simple costume or prop can validate a boy’s ability to explore other identities or empower a quieter boy to find his voice when ‘in character’. In costume, a boy can explore his bravery, wisdom or caring nature without fear of rejection. ‘Being someone else’ can help a young boy move beyond how others may see him and help him feel confident to express the many facets of his developing character.
Most of the boys I know love to sing, and song is a planned part of every day at our school. Singing is a collaborative experience, which fosters respectful participation from all involved as we learn to use our voices together. From choral classes to immersion in preparation for a musical, boys’ voices can be heard spontaneously singing familiar tunes on the sports field or even during excursions.
This infectious permission to lean into the power of their voices when singing with others permeates the culture of our school. This is also true of movement. When expressing themselves through movement, boys need to learn to collaborate, communicate and demonstrate coordination, leading or following when appropriate (or else chaos ensues).
Promotes early literacy skills
The performing arts help support early literacy as the ear is tuned to the rhythms, rhymes and patterns held in language. In my classes, we often explore the sound patterns of other cultures, which young children are skilled at adapting. Music and vocal expression are also highly stimulating for memory. Teaching ideas and concepts through song gives the boys alternative tools for learning.
As a mother and teacher, I’ve always found packing up a room and getting a job done so much more fun when music is involved. Whether singing, dancing or acting – individually or together – performance connects us to the fun and magical world of our imagination. It is a release when stress creeps in, and soothing when emotions are running high. Boys are so much more open to learning when they are playing and having fun.
Claire Clarke is a specialist teacher at Brighton Grammar School, an all-boys school in Melbourne. This article is about Wellbeing
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY
Subscribe to Understanding Boys. It’s free!
Got boys? Sign up for tips and advice you'll actually use.