By Madeleine Kates

We are all familiar with the diverse sports and activity options available to kids and teens in our area. Chances are, for some parents, their kids aren’t finding they enjoy these programs as much as they hoped to, or as their friends do. When parents compare traditional sports activities and hear of theater as an option, they sometimes question the value for their children beyond the stage. Sports offer the well-known benefits of exercise and teamwork, but so does theater, along with additional benefits that may not immediately come to mind.

The obvious skills kids can learn in a theater class are improved communication, the ability to work well with others, and the chance to master and present material. Other skills that help kids, not only in theater, include the ability to meet deadlines, adapt to situations, problem solve, and find resilience.

In a classroom or workplace, these concepts are invaluable. During presentations, you never can prepare for what may happen. Whether there is a technical malfunction or human error, the unknown can occur! In these scenarios, having improvisational skills helps someone think quickly, adapt, and regroup. Theater kids know friends forget lines or props fall, but that the show must go on. They realize each performance is a team effort, and not just the work of the leads. Every part of the show is important, whether onstage or backstage. This training helps students understand that instead of becoming frustrated, they can focus on the opportunity their role offers, or what they would like to work on for next time.

Teachers and employers love when theater students have the confidence to look them in the eye when interacting. When a performer looks into the audience, the lights prevent them from seeing faces, so they feel less self-conscious. With this experience, speaking in front of a class or meeting becomes routine instead of frightening. At the same time, technology has made face-to-face communication a thing of the past! Theater students are immersed in personal communication in a way that messaging cannot duplicate.

Lauren Baker, Theatre Education Director for Academy of Theatre Arts in Williamsville adds, “We find nowadays that students who participate in theatre are more confident when they go out into professional settings because they have acquired the skills needed when they are faced with a presentation, meeting, or face-to-face situation. This is something they are comfortable with and have the skills to adapt to these situations. Theatre reaches beyond the stage, and we see these benefits reach well into their adult lives.” Like any other children’s activity these days, time and commitment are a must, but the skills kids take away from a theater class are skills that benefit them for years to come.

For more information visit your child’s school or local theater programs. For information and to explore Academy of Theatre Arts in Williamsville, please visit, email, or call (716) 810-0551. Also explore ( for more information about the benefits of a theater education.