Research suggests there are developmental benefits of theater education. The present study hypothesized that a theater curriculum, utilizing the techniques of Creative Drama and theater games created by Viola Spolin, taught to students at the Stillwater Montessori School to 15 students in grades Kindergarten through Fourth, would contribute to significant increases in children’s self-esteem and empathy. Questionnaires assessing children’s self-esteem and empathy were administered to children, parents, and teachers prior to and following the theater programming. Results were analyzed using a repeated measures ANOVA and indicated that generally there were no significant changes in children’s self-esteem and empathy. However, for females there were significant decreases in Global Self-Worth and self-esteem. According to teachers, children significantly decreased in their Attention to Others’ Feelings. Although responses to the measures did not yield many significant changes in children, there were several observable changes in the children’s listening and nonverbal communication skills and their ability to give and receive praise. Individual progressions concerning participation, involvement, self-esteem, and focus were also observed. Positive feedback from students and teachers indicated the theater programming had a beneficial effect.
Walker, Sydney R., "It's Not All Just Child's Play: A Psychological Study on the Potential Benefits of Theater Programming With Children" (2014). Honors College. 198.