Tips on Taking The Kids To Live Theater
Taking the kids to live theater is a wonderful experience. I speak very personally of this joy. I still remember the expression on my son's face when he saw, as a young child, his first Musical Theater show. It was truly a new world opening up to him, one that has become his passion. Who would have known? So it is with great enthusiasm that I recommend taking your children to the theater...but here are a a few things all parents, grandparents and guardians need to consider when taking a young child to see live theater.
Let me preface this by saying that I do not intend to insult anyone by including this section but, having attended theater many times over the last twenty years, I believe that many parents to do not know the rules of theater etiquette or if they do, many fail to understand the importance of teaching them to a very young child. So this little section is a
Parent's Guide To Helping Their Kids Become Good Audience Members.
The day of the performance be sure your child is well rested, before attending, and has eaten prior to the performance. If you must bring a snack for your child, bring a "quiet" snack. A child or adult opening a candy wrapper during a performance can be surprisingly loud.
- Begin by checking that the play material is appropriate for the age of your child. I can't stress enough how important this step can be to a successful event. Many professional shows are not geared for kids and in fact, will not admit very young children. Always check with the theater prior to purchasing tickets.
- It's a good idea to start off by taking the very young child to a Kids Theater Production...specifically a short production(many times,less than a hour) that is produced with children in mind.
- If this is your child's first time seeing live theater, it may also be a good idea to get an aisle seat. This will be helpful in the event your child doesn't react well and you need to leave the theater for any reason.
- Once you have verified that this is a good production for a child, and you have purchased your tickets, you should begin to prepare your child for the trip.
- Explain what they will be seeing, that you are taking them to an exciting live theater performance. Familiarize them with the characters, the plot, the setting, etc. If there is a book about the play read it with them.
- Instruct the child as to how they will be expected to behave.
- Speak about what is required of each audience member in order to help the actors do a good job. Review what is good
and use your best judgment concerning what they will understand and how much they can retain. This can be done over the course of several weeks, if time allows. There is also a great book that I've used with young kids in the past to teach etiquette. Kids enjoy the games and activities while learning at the same time.
Try not to arrive way before the performance begins, as this may be too long for a young child to wait. It's better to keep them active doing something else and bring them in about 20 minutes before the show begins, even if this means keeping them busy outside the theater. Note: This applies to theaters with assigned seats. If there is General Admission ticketing then you need to arrive earlier, so disregard.Bring something "quiet" to amuse your child during the waiting period before the show beginsTake them to the restroom before the show starts. Explain that they will not be able to get up or talk during a performance unless it is a real emergency. Remind them to stay in their seats. Emphasize how much fun the whole experience will be but remind them of how you expect them to behave.Enjoy the show with your kids but don't get so caught up in the show, yourself, that you fail to notice when you child is disturbing to others.If a child needs to be consoled for any reason, take them out to the lobby. Do not allow an upset child to remain in the theater and disturb his fellow audience members.Do not take a sick child to the theater. It will be unpleasant for him and those around him.
Give Your Child The Gift of Theater
Most young children love the theater and if you are taking the kids to live theater, early in their life they will be see and experience one of life's greatest cultural pleasures.
You, as a parent, will reap great rewards by exposing your child to this cultural element. I won't get into the academic and intellectual advantages here, but take my work on this, they are numerous.
So, please, give your child the gift of live theater and help them to enjoy it by teaching them theater etiquette from the very beginning. Oh! and don't forget to watch their faces as they see some of their favorite characters come to life. You will cherish these memories as they get older.
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