For anyone that grew up enjoying the arts, going to a play was probably a large part of their falling in love. Watching the development of a scene on stage is something that kids are naturally going to be excited about. Think about it…when your kids play they make believe. Why would they not be attracted to make believe on stage? Even with this natural attraction, there are a few things you should keep in mind before taking the kids to a play. Here are some tips to get the most out of the experience:
Tips for Taking Your Kids to a Play
Talk about what to expect – If you are going to see a play that may be complicated, talk about the premise of the story. Let your kids in on the basic ideas needed to understand the story. Don’t give away key parts, but share the basic idea behind the play. This will help them to feel like they understand what is going on. This is particularly important for advanced plays and stories.
Etiquette – There are certain things that one simply doesn’t do when visiting a play. Cat calling and yelling at the stage is a good example. Only applauding when appropriate is another. Staying seated and keeping quiet are important as well. Go over the “rules” with kids and review them regularly once you get there.
Take Advantage of Intermission— When intermission rolls around, make sure you set aside the time for questions. Kids will have questions no matter what so be sure you allow for those. This will allow them to not ask questions during the show. A nice long walk to stretch the legs and answer questions is the perfect way to spend your intermission. Don’t’ forget to have them go to the restroom as well.
Choose an Age-Appropriate Play— If you take a kid to a 3-hour performance of MacBeth, you deserve what you get. There are occasional children that would appreciate such a thing, but very rarely. Take kids to plays that they will enjoy and understand for the best experiences. There is nothing wrong with expanding their horizons but you can overdo it.
Reward Good Behavior – Before, during and after the show, you should quiz your child about the things that are going on. Afterwards, ice cream or a milkshake makes for a nice evening topper to a wonderful evening. The key is to reward them without talking about it. If they are good, take them out. If they are not, don’t mention it and go home. They will get the picture on their own eventually.
Taking your kids out to a play can be a wonderful experience but you need to keep in mind that they are kids. Expecting them to sit through very long plays is a bit much for most kids and you should really consider this when you are picking out the play. On the bright side, you will create a love for the theater in your child and get to enjoy the better plays as you get older with them. Who knows? You might even get to see them on the stage performing some day.