My daughter and I have done several shows together, and my husband has joined us for a few as well. It is time consuming and exhausting, and 100 percent wonderful. I believe that this experience has been deeply valuable for my daughter, and I am seeing the benefits, especially now that she is in high school. Here’s why the time, effort and expense of family theater was all worth it.
Every child learns that it is fine to shine.
Peer pressure can make a kid really afraid to stand out. Theater kids don’t seem to suffer this so much. Children who do theater learn from an early age that what makes them unique and wonderful will please audiences. Theater kids aren’t afraid to be themselves, at an age when most kids are afraid to look foolish.
Children learn that everyone is a star.
A good community theater program will emphasize that every member of the cast is important. Ensemble roles are vital, and everyone works together so that all kids have their bright shining moments. Children who do a lot of theater know how to improvise so that everyone looks good. They learn teamwork. This is great to have in your family too!
A theater production teaches the value of hard work.
When a production goes well, everyone in it can take pride in their accomplishment. All the late nights, endless repetitions of the same dance moves, and drilling lines pays off exponentially when it’s time for the applause. Not only does each member work hard, but the cast as a whole works hard, together. This is powerful preparation for working together on large projects as adults.
Community Theater brings families together.
The company we have participated with, Bay Area Educational Theater Company, is set up for families to participate together. The very first show I did with my daughter had several entire families in the cast. Parents who don’t want to be on stage with their children participate by helping to make costumes, chaperoning backstage (managing 80 excited children can be a task), selling concessions, or handling ticket sales. The result is that the production is something the whole family can feel proud of.
Theater builds confidence that spills over into other areas.
Most kids get nervous when they have to perform in public or give a report. For a child who has been on a stage from an early age, public speaking is easy. I doubt that job interviews or work presentations will be difficult either.
The show must go on…
My daughter is disciplined when it comes to her studies and other things she commits to. When a cast of 80 or more is counting on every single member, everyone has to show up fully. She did her first main stage show at age seven, so she learned from an early age to be there on time and give her best whether she felt like it or not. This skill will serve her well as an adult.
If you’re wondering if your child will enjoy theater, give it a try. For some it will be a valuable experience that they will enjoy once. For others, it will be that magical place where they always belong.
More from Elizabeth Danu:
How I Approach the Tough Topics with my Teenagers
Deep Relaxation is Potent Medicine
The Benefits of Giving Massage to Your Child