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Why kids needs drama classes - now, more than ever (and what you can do to support them)

Noticed anything different about our children and young people over the past couple of years?

kids who can benefit from drama classes

Taking my children for an ice cream in an Oxford park last summer, we bumped into a family we hadn’t seen since before the pandemic. And in that time, their toddler had grown! But gone was the chatty, confident child we’d known. Now five years old, he was fearful of us, hiding behind his mother’s legs and holding his hands over his face. She was unnecessarily apologetic. “I’m sorry” she said. “He’s a Covid Kid.”

It's a phrase we’ve heard more than once from parents bringing their child along to experience their first drama class at Flintlock Theatre School. They’re describing children whose confidence, social skills and curiosity have been hampered by crucial developmental years spent in isolation, with an unavoidable increase in the use of screens. They’re unsure of new environments, prefer to stay close to their trusted caregivers and find it harder than usual to try out new activities on their own – and that’s the thin edge of the wedge.

Whilst the full extent of Covid’s impacts on children’s mental health and cognitive development are yet to be determined, one study by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) found that "nearly half of the 11-12 year old children in the cohort (44%) reported an increase in symptoms of depression, and a quarter (26%) reported an increase in PTSD symptoms since the start of the pandemic"*. And that’s not all. A systematic review by the IoPPN revealed that the COVID-19 lockdown was "associated with poor emotional outcomes for young people, including psychological distress, loneliness, boredom, fear, and stress"*.

It’s a worrying picture, but aside from the essential emotional, educational and psychological support and services young people need in order to restore and rebuild following Covid-19, there is one extra-curricular activity that has long been recognised for the confidence and mental health boost that our children so desperately need.

Parenting site has grouped together countless peer-reviewed studies that reveal the diverse benefits that drama classes provide, and they resonate profoundly for 'Covid Kids'. Here at Flintlock Theatre School, we’ve picked out some of our favourites and the ones we see as most significant for the post-Covid generation.

These studies tell us that drama classes:

Drama classes Oxford

- develop oral language skills

- build self-confidence and self-esteem

- improve social skills

- enhance self-concept

- foster “whole-person growth”

- encourage empathy

The list goes on – and that’s before you get to transferrable skills (check out these 2014 films made by Shakespeare's Globe and Pearson Education). Time management (theatre is strict on punctuality), preparation (line-learning is crucial), public speaking, teamwork, active listening skills…it’s hard to find an academic pursuit or future career that isn’t well- supported by a childhood that includes drama classes.

At Flintlock Theatre School, we could have predicted these conclusions. We’re grateful, nonetheless, to the academic community for providing substantive evidence for the outcomes parents and practitioners across the country have understood for decades.

So, here’s a question for you.

If we know so much about the benefits of drama training, why has the UK government systematically stripped schools of their arts and theatre budgets?

This seems like a terrible missed opportunity and incredibly short-sighted. If younger people aren’t being provided with skilled performing arts teaching at school, parents need to look outside of their educational setting for private providers, and that is just not accessible for every family.

Because, here’s the thing. Across thirteen years, we’ve taught hundreds of students from across Oxfordshire and beyond at our weekly drama classes, drama summer camps and youth theatre company for older students, and across all of our activity, we regularly witness the transformative power of quality drama teaching. Once-shy students step out smiling, laughing and making friends and parents routinely report the countless ways in which our sessions have supported their child across the board.

That’s why we do it - across every term-time Saturday and across Easter, summer and half-term holidays - and it’s why we’ve continued to ensure that Flintlock Theatre School is a uniquely nurturing, supportive environment. We know how powerful our classes can be. We only wish we could reach every Covid Kid who needs the right kind of Drama in their lives.

To find out more about our course, classes and camps, visit

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