For teachers, field trips can be one of the most challenging times of the year. There’s transportation to coordinate, reservations to make, and often, a classroom full of rambunctious kids to corral. While theatre field trips are a great way to expose young minds to the arts, keeping children focused for the duration of the performance can be tough. Here are a few tips to help parents prepare their kids for their upcoming experience at a performing arts centre.
Discuss the Play Ahead of Time
Whether it’s a child’s first trip to the theatre or their fifth, it’s always helpful to discuss the play beforehand. Read the plot together and let them ask questions at home or in the classroom. Live plays can be confusing, but if they’re familiar with the main plot points of the play, they’ll be able to absorb more of the performance and be better prepared to appreciate the acting.
Explain the Difference Between Movies and Live Theatre
Kids are used to movies full of flashy special effects. For many, the difference between the entertainment they know and live plays may be surprising. Before the field trip, discuss the difference between movies and plays. Help them understand that each performance is live and that the actors don’t have a chance to repeat a scene to get it right. The more they understand the ins and outs of the experience, the more prepared they’ll be for the performance.
While most theatre field trips won’t require formal attire, it is important to have kids dress appropriately. Theatres get chilly once the crew dims the lights and if kids are not prepared, they may struggle to pay attention or disrupt other theatregoers by fidgeting. Make sure they bring a jacket and encourage them to wear long pants and closed-toed shoes. Remember, most spaces are air-conditioned and, depending on the season, may be cooler than the schoolroom.
Go Over the Rules
Prior to any field trip, it’s important for children to understand the rules and expectations before, during, and after the performance. Parents should explain the importance of being quiet inside the auditorium and make sure that they understand why. Let them know that the actors can hear the things the audience says during the performance and that talking can distract them. While some talking is to be expected during a child-friendly show, encourage kids to do their best to be quiet and respectful until the performance is over.
Volunteer as a Chaperone
Theatre field trips can be more successful with several chaperones to help the teacher manage the school group. The more adults on hand to help direct kids to their seats or help them find the bathroom during the middle of the performance, the more enjoyable the experience will be. If possible, parents should consider volunteering as a chaperone, especially if they’re concerned about their child acting up. This way, they’ll be able to keep an eye on them during the performance and ensure that they’re behaving as they should.
These tips will help make any theatre field trip a success and help kids enjoy the performance.