CONTRIBUTED CONTENT: Surprising Ways Children Can Benefit from Live Theater

The following article was written by The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Las Vegas.

Southern Nevada parents hoping to improve their children’s behavior and appreciation for reading might want to consider a trip to the theater.

A University of Arkansas study reports that field trips to live theater performances heightens students’ literary knowledge, tolerance and empathy.

Nonprofit The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Southern Nevada’s world-class performing arts center, strongly supports this positive impact. The organization presents educational student matinees in its theaters to tens of thousands of students each year, at no cost to schools.

In addition, it will soon offer evening performances of four of these kid-friendly shows for families to enjoy together.

For those interested with introducing children and students to live theater, below are just a few examples of how they can benefit.

A Spotlight on Reading

Many live productions, including shows designed for young audiences, are adapted from popular books. Watching characters come alive on stage can entice children to pick up a book they haven’t tried before.

It can also help them connect with storylines and characters on a deeper level.

The Smith Center will soon host student matinees of three musical productions adapted from the page. These include “Go, Dog. Go!” based on P.D. Eastman’s preschool book, “How I Became a Pirate” adapted from Melinda Long‘s beloved book, and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” based on the classic novel by Richard and Florence Atwater.

Lighthearted Learning

Who says learning can’t be fun? This especially applies when a child is removed from the traditional classroom setting and receives information through a performance on stage.

Absorbing information through creative forms such as puppetry, song, dance and storytelling allows children to experience lessons in an imaginative way, promoting engagement and retention.

The Smith Center is thrilled to present an educational student matinee in October that follows this very concept. Bringing life-size, interactive dinosaur puppets on stage, “Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo” teaches children about prehistoric creatures with a show they won’t soon forget.

Building Compassion

Live theater can even potentially affect children’s understanding of other people. According to the University of Arkansas’ study, hundreds of students who attended live performances scored higher in a test of students’ ability to recognize and appreciate what others think and feel.

Bringing Your Children to the Theater

To help community families experience live theater together, The Smith Center will present evening public performances of each of the student matinees shows mentioned above.

This will kick off with a public performance of “Go, Dog. Go!” on September 27.

For more information about these upcoming family shows and The Smith Center’s student matinee program, please visit www.TheSmithCenter.com.

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