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Parent's Guide to Supporting Their Child's Theatre Journey

Welcome to the wonderful world of theatre! If your child has shown an interest in acting, performing, or anything theatre-related, you're in for an exciting journey. Theatre can be a fantastic outlet for creativity, self-expression, and teamwork. I remember my parents always encouraging me, watching my "shows" and being my biggest fans. A lot parents I speak to starting googling acting classes or audtions right away when their kiddo shows an interest in theatre, but there are lots of opportunities you can encourage creativity at home.

Here are some fun and practical tips for supporting your child's passion for theatre at home.

1. Create a Mini Theatre Space

Transform a corner of your home into a mini theatre. It doesn’t have to be fancy—a simple stage area with a curtain or even a designated “performance” corner will do. This space can be a creative haven where your child can rehearse lines, practice dance routines, or put on mini shows for the family. One of the best things parents can do is be the audience for their kid. Enjoy the show, applaud and watch every "show" they put on for you.

2. Encourage Daily Vocal Warm-Ups

Vocal warm-ups are essential for any performer. Encourage your child to start their day with some fun vocal exercises. Try tongue twisters, humming, or simple scales. Make it a game by challenging them to see how quickly and clearly they can say tricky phrases like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” I have a blog with some of my favourite tongue twisters that any performer can try. I have a free vocal or actor warm-up as well. Warm-ups really help young performers develop their voices and strength. They do not need to be long, but they need to be consistent.

3. Watch Performances Together

Expose your child to different types of performances. Watch musicals, plays, and even recorded live theatre performances online. Discuss what you liked about the show, which characters were your favorites, and what your child would have done differently if they were the director. I personally love showing a variety of kinds of shows to young performers as well - musicals and classical theatre. It is also really great for young performers to see other kids perform. If you search on you tube you can find a lot of community theatre productions, school productions and semi-professional. So many of our performers come to see one of our shows and when they see kids performing they get excited and realize that they could do the same.

4. Read Plays and Scripts

Reading plays together can be a fun and educational activity. Choose age-appropriate scripts and take turns reading different characters. This helps your child get comfortable with dialogue and understand character development. Plus, it’s a great way to bond! I personally love reading scripts with my kids and using different voices. Kids love seeing that their parents can be silly too.

5. Improv Games

Improv games are not only fun but also help build confidence and quick thinking. Try games like “Yes, And…”, “Props”, or “Charades”. These games can be a hit at family gatherings and encourage spontaneous creativity. A great way to get younger kids playing improv games is adapting them to make them a little easier - a little less pressure, but they are still learning to think on your feet.

"Yes, And..." can be played with two people. One person starts by saying "Hey remember the time we...." and they start telling a made-up story about something they did together. The next person says, "Yes and..." then they add to the story. You can go back and forth for quite a while. You can set a timer and once it comes to an end you are done. You always want to support the other person and say "Yes and.." It is a great lesson and a fun game.

6. Support Their Participation in Local Theatre

Look for local theatre groups or drama classes that your child can join. Participating in community theatre provides valuable experience and the opportunity to meet other theatre-loving kids. Attend their performances, no matter how small the role—it means the world to them. Please do you research before you have your child join a group or class. Not all theatre groups are the same especially when we are talking community theatre. Good questions to ask:

When and where are rehearsals?

What are the expectatcion of young performers? Do they need to be at every rehearsal? Who is looking after the children at rehearsals?

I would also ask what is the environment of the rehearsals. I run a program that is designed for development. I want every performer to have an opporunity to shine in their own way. This is not the reality for most theatre groups - they are taught the show must be a certain way and the show must go on. If you do not think that is the kind of environment your child would succeed in it may be better to look for something else. I aslo have a new program for performers who are looking for a more professional environment and the expectations are different at those rehearsals. It is worth whole to take the time to ask questions so you are ensuring the best experience for your kiddo.

7. Celebrate Every Role

Whether your child is cast as the lead or as a tree, celebrate their participation with enthusiasm. Every role is important, and being part of a production teaches teamwork and dedication. Help them understand that there are no small parts, only small actors. I always tell my performers someone in the audience will have their eyes on you. Even when you think no one cares about your role, because it isn't as big as other ones know someone is watching you so stay and character and play your part. There are so many important parts in each show and they can not happen without each other.

8. Encourage Self-Expression Through Costumes and Props

Allow your child to raid the costume box or create their own props and costumes. Whether they’re pretending to be a knight, a princess, or a pirate, dressing up can spark imagination and bring their characters to life.

A great game to play is putting a mis-mashed of costumes in a big bin and having your child create their own "new" character. For example maybe they become the Big Bad Pig Witch. They can decide how this new character speaks, what they like and what they do not like.

Putting a new spin on a popular character is a great way for kids to create with their imagination but still having some structure and ideas.

9. Provide Positive Feedback

Constructive feedback is essential, but always start with the positives. Highlight what they did well before offering suggestions for improvement. Your support and encouragement will boost their confidence and motivate them to keep improving.

When I direct children I love it when they come up with new ideas and are not afraid to "try" something. It may not be the way the perform it in the end, but they trying is where the magic happens. Instead of cricticing maybe ask questions about the performace - why did your character do it that way? Your kid may answer their own question and change it or they may have a great reason and need to show it more to the audience.

10. Keep it Fun

Most importantly, keep the experience fun. Theatre is about expressing oneself and having a great time. Avoid putting too much pressure on your child to perform perfectly. Celebrate their passion and creativity, and remind them that the joy of theatre lies in the process as much as the final performance.

By supporting your child's interest in theatre, you're helping them develop valuable skills like public speaking, creativity, and empathy. Plus, you'll be creating wonderful memories together.

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