Taking kids to the theater is a great way to expose them to new ideas and forms of creativity. One of the benefits of live theater is it engages the audience and their imagination in a way television and movies simply can’t. Here are some tips for having a positive and engaging theater experience with kids of all ages.
Selecting the show – Choose a show and venue that is geared towards children. If your children are very young, a long performance they have to sit through is a tough introduction. Look for alternatives such as puppet shows, kids plays put on by your local drama club or high school, or even outdoor performances that allow your child to get up and move around.
Look for shows that touches on some of your child’s existing interests. It’s a great way to keep them engaged and show their interests in a new light.
Also look for shows that are already familiar to your child, or introduce the story beforehand. It is easy for children to get enthusiastic about something they already know a bit about it. If your show will feature songs, see if you can find them to play with your child ahead of time.
When buying tickets ask to be seated on an aisle, in case you have to make a quick exit. Also ask if there are any special effects used, as these can sometimes scare children if they come totally unexpected. See if they can provide any tips to make the show more enjoyable for yourself and your child.
Come prepared – Show up at your venue with plenty of time to spare, as this will give you a chance to get seated and comfortable. Make sure everyone is wearing comfortable clothing. Theaters can sometimes be chilly and sometimes hot and stuffy, so bring layers that can easily be put on or taken off.
Bring some snacks and water for the intermission, or in case your child starts to fuss. Children often have an easier time paying attention if they have something to fiddle with as well, a quiet toy or stuffed animal is a good choice. Make sure your child is well rested before the show, but if your child falls asleep don’t stress, there will be other shows.
Go over what it means with your child to be a good audience member. This means no talking while the actors are talking – unless they are asking for audience involvement, clapping after the show (or scene) is over, and telling you right away if they need to go to the bathroom or need to get up so you have time to make it out of the show and to the bathroom without disturbing too many people.
At the Show – Encourage your child to become engaged in the show. During Intermission, while you are getting up and stretching, ask your child what they think of the characters, the costumes, the special effects, the music. Having them recap what has happen so far is a great exercise in memory recall!
After the Show – The theater experience doesn’t have to end when the show is over. Use it as a jumping off point for creativity. You could draw or tell a story about your favorite characters, start with the ending of the play and create a “What happened next” script you can act out together, or take elements from the play and turn them into a treasure hunt. Any activities you do after the play will give your child a greater understanding of the play and a boost in imagination.
Live theater is an imaginative, creative art form that all children should experience. I hope these tips help in creating some lasting memories for your family.
Is live theater shows a part of your families creative activity? Have any tips to share on how to a trip to the theater memorable? Please post below!