When we created Family Fun Twin Cities and defined its purpose, we chose to focus on family events as opposed to kid activities. We know we can’t do it all and promoting a family culture is our objective. Even with this focus, I’m keenly aware that I can’t cover every awesome family event that is happening in the Twin Cities.
I also have a few personal rules to keep me sane. Somewhere along the way, attending family activities in the Twin Cities became a job – a good job, but a job all the same. This is on top of my paycheck job and my family (the reason this all started). I have to cut corners where I can. My oldest is in grade school and the rest are pre-kindergarten. At this age, I have decided that we will not sign up for individual activities that require a regular commitment of my time. And when I do break that rule, piano lessons for instance, I make sure to keep it in Northeast Minneapolis. Finally, like everyone else, we are on a budget – I generally try to keep kids activities free or inexpensive.
So, wait. Why am I writing about the Theatre Arts Training program at Children’s Theatre? It breaks all my rules.
These are my very personal reasons why I break my own rules to give my children this experience. Although they are personal reasons, I hope they will help others decide if its the right experience for their children.
- My Kids Love It. It started with my grade school daughter who is absolutely certain she wants to be an actress when she grows up. I signed us up for the ACT Pass Scholarship Program. After watching my five-year-old glow while participating in a sample class last month, I signed him up, too.
- I hope it will teach the value of hard work. This alone would make my time and expense worth it. My daughter isn’t really one of those kids who likes to put effort into things. I assumed I would be forcing her to go to TAT classes by the end of the first season and then she would move on. It hasn’t been that way. Despite the fact that it is hard work sometimes, she still wants to go.
- I’m Always Looking for Fun Ways to Help with Language Development. My 5-year-old was slow to talk and still has difficulty with some sounds. With early childhood intervention, he is starting to become intelligible, but I worry that he will not be ready for Kindergarten next year. And, now my younger son seems to be learning to talk from his brother — like they are creating their own language. Theatre Arts Training can help with language development and vocabulary and they just think its fun.
- Theatre Training Builds Confidence and Encourages Public Speaking. Girls have it hard growing up. They can be mean to each other, boys can be pushy, and there is pressure on girls, in particular, to please everyone around them. Anything I can do to encourage self-confidence and independent thought is a plus in my book.
- Acting Encourages Teamwork. This is another thing that makes me wonder if my 5-year-old will be ready for kindergarten. He doesn’t seem to be aware of how his actions affect the people around him. Hopefully a few months of working with other children, taking turns, following direction, watching for cues and all the other things that go with acting, will help him be a little more ready.
- Arts Education Improves Academic Performance. This is according to studies. I don’t have proof of this yet with my own children. I do know that when my husband and I were in high school, he struggled with a lot of home and school issues. The schools’ response, despite his test scores, was often to pull him out of “unessential” programs and stick him into vocational classes. When he finally got to a school which encouraged his creative side, his academic grades went from barely passing to honor roll. That’s pretty good anecdotal evidence to back up the studies. You can read about school-related benefits here.
- Theatre Helps Children See The World From Other Viewpoints. I think of Seedfolk and Snowflake immediately. In my experience, stories are essential to help children become less self-centered in their view of the world.
- Acting Is a Method Used To Help Children Work Through Fears. Last spring, some creep was peeping through windows in my neighborhood. He was probably casing; we don’t know. But later, after he was arrested, we learned some scary things about him. Unfortunately my daughter was one of his victims and my children are all dealing with a lot of fear from that experience. Having someone peep through a window at you is creepy for an adult, but it is downright terrifying for a child. I hope as they expand their abilities to act, they can work through these fears and get past them.
- I get to support a program I believe in. Children’s Theatre Company is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Any money I spend, goes back into creating these experiences for youth.
- It actually is a Family Event For Us. Children’s Theatre is in the same building as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. While the older children take their classes, the rest of us hang out at the MIA. Even going weekly during class times, we still haven’t hit every art cart or completely explored all the exhibits.
Those are my top ten reasons. What are your reasons for the activities that make your cut? We would love to hear your thoughts.