Pantomime season might be over but there are still plenty of great reasons to take your foster children to the theatre. Theatre visits are a one of those cultural activities for children that can offer lots of benefits beyond the entertainment factor, so why not try a family theatre trip? Here are a few things to consider…
Drama can help children relate
Seeing different people and situations play out on stage can help children’s emotional development. They learn to sympathise and empathise with characters, to understand what types of behaviour are acceptable and what is not. Children may feel more able to explore their own feelings or to open up about problems or issues after witnessing others express themselves. In this way theatre can provide context and help children put things into perspective.
Theatre can inspire
Watching theatre can help unleash a child’s creative side. While not every child will want to emulate the actors on stage and try out drama for themselves, they might feel inspired to try writing their own stories or even drawing or painting the shows that they’ve seen. Theatre for children isn’t all about the actors either, there are plenty of other elements to observe and discuss from the lighting and staging through to any musical accompaniment.
It’s a great learning aid
It can be a good idea to familiarise kids with the story of the play you are going to see before you go. Why not spend some time discussing the story? Theatres often post resources online to help with this. There can be so much to follow once the play gets going, having a head start on the storyline and what to expect can stop children from becoming overwhelmed. Watching theatre can help children develop their vocabulary and stimulate the imagination too, so it can be a great learning aid and a real boost to children’s emotional development.
It can teach them focus
Along with learning about the story, its context and the characters, sitting and watching a play can help children learn about social etiquette. Children become more aware of what type of behaviour is expected in public and will need to be patient and quiet at appropriate times, paying attention so that they can follow the story. Discussing points about the play together afterwards can also help them learn memory and interpretation skills, just be sure post-play conversations don’t feel like a test!
It’s cold outside!
Theatre for children is a real all year round activity – you can watch open air theatre during the summer or cosy up indoors to watch a play, whatever the weather outside. And if you head to a daytime performance it could cost you less than you think – could a trip to the theatre be on the cards one rainy afternoon?
If you’re keen to take a trip to the theatre to see how your foster child enjoys it but are nervous of how they might respond, there are some steps you can take to make things easier if they don’t appear to be having a good time. Firstly, try to book an aisle seat so that you can slip out if they need the toilet or find anything unnerving or upsetting. Even when you choose something age-appropriate, little ones can still be upset by baddies on stage, so if this happens you want to be able to pop out easily and emphasise to them it’s just pretend.
It’s wise to have some snacks at the interval to avoid irritability from hunger and to keep them occupied too. If you do arrive a little early to the play, think about looking around the theatre together and pointing out potential items of interest so that they don’t get bored before the play starts. The main thing is remembering that cultural activities for children are meant to be fun, so if one play doesn’t entertain, don’t worry – it’s well worth trying again with something different.
Got any questions about organising activities as a foster family? Get in touch with our friendly team and we’ll be happy to help.