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The power of drama for children

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It’s official, children creating drama is no longer considered a bad thing! In fact, drama is recognised as an effective way to nurture key skills in children, ranging from communication to creativity. We’ve heard some people say that when they first thought of a child’s drama class, they imagined a room of extrovert wannabe starlets. Nothing could be further from the truth, although we welcome those of course!

If you haven’t considered the benefits of drama for children, here are some that we think are key:

Building confidence

It might seem like the last extra-curricular activity you’d choose for a shy child, but drama is the perfect way to overcome self-doubt and boost self-esteem. ShowKids is a safe space where every child has the chance to express themselves. Children work in friendship groups, which help them to develop social skills, and learn specific techniques like voice development and improvisation which are great for building confidence. And whether presenting solo in front of their peers, or performing as part of a group, children will feel empowered by putting on a performance.

Preparing children for the real world

Drama opens up a whole world for children, where they can explore a really diverse range of characters from different backgrounds, countries or even moments in history. It’s a powerful way of helping children get a different perspective and build an understanding of what life might look like beyond their own parameters. Acting out different roles can even give kids a taster of future careers, and learning skills like voice projection and body language will ensure they’ll be more confident about doing a presentation than most adults!

Nurturing emotional intelligence and communication

In the supportive environment of a drama workshop, children get to learn about and try out different emotions as well as explore conflict safely. By studying challenging characters and thinking about why they act the way they do, children learn to empathise. They also learn how to express themselves better and how their responses to other people or situations might be interpreted. At ShowKids, activities are all in groups and teamwork is always key to getting the best out of it – whether it’s singing, dancing or acting. 

Encouraging creativity and imagination

Whether it’s through dance, singing, acting, stagecraft or devising a scene, we get children expressing their creative side. By exploring different scripts and genres, children widen their horizons, and improvisation encourages them to think on their feet and outside the box. We work on vocabulary, tone, facial expressions and accents to foster creative expression. And by encouraging kids to think about different characters’ perspectives or consider multiple plot lines, we’re helping them learn problem solving and creating future innovators. 

Physical and mental development

We get children moving, but we encourage them to understand their bodies and control them, as well as grow strength and demonstrate expression. It also helps if they want to burn of excess energy or release tension. But the best thing about ShowKids is the nurturing environment we create, where children are encouraged to support and listen to each other, while they learn to understand emotions – all very important for mental health.

Sign up to a drama workshop near you.

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Five reasons that mindfulness is great for children

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Mindfulness is one of those words that has gone from being the preserve of yoga teachers or psychologists- to one that pops up everywhere! But here at ShowKids, mindfulness has always been an important part of our ethos, and a skill we aim to develop in every workshop. Put simply, mindfulness is a being fully engaged in the present moment – aware of your emotional and physical state – and learning to accept it.

Mindfulness doesn’t eradicate negative emotions; it helps you tune into them so you can recognise unpleasant thoughts and deal with them in a measured way. And it ensures that you connect with, and appreciate, what’s around you.

We live in an increasingly distracting age and since our children can’t remember life B.S.P (before smart phone), you could say it’s even more important for them to learn how to be ‘in the moment’.

Here are five other reasons why we think mindfulness for kids is so important:

1. A head start
Mindfulness is beneficial at every developmental stage – from toddler into old age – and is shown to decrease anxiety and increase happiness. But the earlier you learn, the better- if only it was on the curriculum in the 90s! Mindfulness can often feel like a rewiring of the brain – and it kind of is. But learn the techniques at an early age, when the brain is still developing, and it’s more likely to come naturally later in life.

2. Life-long resilience and natural positivity
Mindfulness can help children to understand the difference between their inner and outer experiences. Thoughts can be upsetting and can even manifest into a physical feeling, but if children are taught to recognise their thoughts as ‘just thoughts’ they are better equipped to deal with them. Being told to be positive no matter what is counter-productive because it’s not possible. In fact, children who can identify a negative feeling are more likely to maintain positivity. Which leads me to…

3. A confident mind-set
A healthy level of self-esteem comes from an ability to avoid judging ourselves too harshly. Mindfulness helps children to have less attachment to their feelings, and to just observe them. If they feel nervous, instead of wallowing in that feeling and increasing it, they can acknowledge it, maybe ask them themselves why they feel it, and ultimately move beyond it. True confidence doesn’t come from always believing you will do it, but that you can try your best.

4. Calm and concentration
One of the main mindfulness techniques used in our workshops is, quite simply, breathing. Children who learn breath awareness and control have learnt an effective way to self-calm and focus. We all find ourselves distracted from a task by random thoughts that pop into our mind – mindfulness can’t stop them coming but it can teach you to rise above them. Better still, practise makes perfect, and the more children connect with the moment, the more their brains learn to be ‘indistractable’ – also key to delivering a great performance on stage! Mindfulness has even been shown to improve memory.

5. Empathy and patience with others
It’s a well-known phrase – you’ll never learn to love others if you can’t love yourself. We know that mindfulness fosters a healthy self-awareness but an important side-effect of this is learning that others have complicated thoughts too – and that’s called empathy.

At ShowKids, we believe in the importance of mindfulness for children- and in life skill development as much as the power of performance.

Click here to book your child in for a free taster workshop and see what mindfulness through the Performing Arts can do for your child.

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Maintaining your child’s mental health

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Since the lockdown was announced, there’s been much talk about how to look after our mental health – whether you’re living alone and going stir crazy, or living with children and going, well, stir crazy! But what about children? They tend to adjust better to change than stuck-in-their-ways old adults, but this is a big change for children too. They aren’t seeing their friends, they too are stuck in the same surroundings and their parents (might) be acting a little strange. Here are our tips for looking after your child’s mental health:

Keep a loose routine
When the commute suddenly consists of tramping to the spare room instead of the station, it’s hard to find the urgency to get children dressed and fed by 8am. But having set time throughout the day for certain activities is good for mental health. Whether it’s meals, exercise, a creative hour, or even TV time, any points of consistency will help keep your child’s expectations met.

Sleep is key 
This is obvious – but when they haven’t been in school for hours; when tomorrow promises more of exactly the same, sleep might not come so naturally. It can help to make it an occasion and perhaps have a fun wind-down routine – whether that’s story-time and hot milk or choosing what activity is on the agenda tomorrow so that they are motivated to sleep.

Screen test – use tech wisely
TV or iPad time can be a complete life saver but ensuring they take regular screen breaks will increase focus for other tasks and improve moods. Use tech to instigate a virtual play date and keep those important friendships going ‘face-to-face’. ShowKids is offering its drama workshops online and it’s been lovely to see children interact from afar. There are loads of educational games and programmes out there, as well as fun distractions. As long as all the fun stuff isn’t on a screen, it’s all good!

Use Mother Nature  
Nature is so beneficial and studies show that being in green spaces is calming for adults and kids alike. Get outside as much as you can and encourage children to really look at what’s there and appreciate it. You can incorporate fun activities like playing Pooh Sticks,  looking for as many different coloured flowers as you can, listening out for different bird sounds or using a pencil to transfer the pattern of a tree’s bark onto paper.

They like to move it, move it
Physical exercise releases happy-boosting endorphins and aids sleep. There’s so many free fitness videos online, including Joe Wickes’ P.E sessions, of course! Mixing it up keeps children interested and makes it feel less like a chore. Whether its egg and spoon races or badminton in the garden, hula hooping or a game of Twister indoors, or walks and bike rides outside – all exercise is beneficial.

Life lessons
Don’t worry if you can’t do their maths homework yourself. There are so many ways to learn and the most important thing is that children stay curious. Even activities like cooking can help them test their maths skills as they work out how to measure ingredients. Let them dip into atlases and encyclopedias and choose a place or subject they want to learn about. Board games can be great tests of skills like strategy and observation. And having ongoing projects helps, like growing vegetables or building a model.

Whatever you do, your children and you will look back at this time fondly – so know you’re doing an amazing job and enjoy the precious time while you have it.

Find out more about ShowKids workshops, or our upcoming summer holiday courses

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Get your kids back to post-lockdown ‘normal’ through the performing arts

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As Charles Dickens said: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. The lockdown is largely over now, although sadly COVID-19 is not. Despite the tragedy of the last few months – along with the challenges and sacrifices – many families have benefited from the slow-down and going back to the new normal now presents its own anxieties. But, as another famous writer said: “all the world’s a stage,” and performing arts can help ease your kids back into real life as much as it can prepare them for performance…

All together again
Whether kids have been craving company outside the family or are nervous about mixing with others after a hiatus, a group class is a great way to set minds at rest and remind kids how fun real-life interaction can be after all that Zooming. At ShowKids, all our workshops are focused on group work but groups are never over-whelming so it’s the perfect way to ease kids back into being with others. In fact, we have new maximum class sizes, which we’ve set to government guidelines, and social distancing will of course be observed at all times.

Building back confidence
Performing arts are such a confidence builder thanks to exercises like voice development but also because of how classes are structured. Our practitioners create an inclusive environment where kids are encouraged to have their limelight if they want it but also to listen to each other. Activities like reading aloud or singing can help kids find their voice again – literally and figuratively!

Coming to terms with the times
For many children the lockdown will have been difficult. Families may have experienced loss and all will have suffered from separation and experienced stresses and strains. Drama is a wonderful way to explore emotions and understand situations and view points thanks to devices like role-play and improvisation. We also incorporate mindfulness into our courses, which is an important tool for processing difficult experiences and increasing happiness.

Structured creativity and focus
While some kids may just have experienced a different kind of structure during lockdown, it’s likely that the lack of school and extra-curricular classes has meant a bit more TV and iPad time and less structured learning. Performing arts requires discipline and kids certainly have to focus if they are to work towards a performance project – practising moves and learning scripts or even devising stage sets.

An escape and an outlet for expression
Being stuck within the same walls day after day has got us all down but performing arts presents the opportunity to escape to a different world as well as explore different types of creative expression. ShowKids holiday courses, for instance, are inspired by classic stories like Mary Poppins, Aladdin and Matilda but give kids the chance to be a part of it instead of just watching the fun. Our aim, in everything we do, is to make performing arts fun. We want kids to set their imagination free and experience the joy of expression, whether it’s through singing, acting or developing their own characters.

Ease your little ones back into the new normal by booking onto a ShowKids holiday course or after-school workshop today!

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The importance of role-play in child development

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“Ok, you be the king and I’ll be the witch…” When you hear a child say something like this you know they’ll be happily entertained for a good while but there are other benefits to children engaging in role-play. This kind of creative play can spark imaginations, develop important social skills and, particularly in a structured environment, be educational. Here are some of the ways that role-play can contribute to a child’s development:

It inspires creativity

Even organised role-play relies on imagination and this kind creative play is a great way to develop children’s ability to think for themselves. In a situation where there is no ‘right’ answer or set conclusion children are free to let their imaginations run wild and not only can this foster creativity but the ability to problem solve in the future. As Albert Einstein said: “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”

It allows kids to explore the world safely

Role-play allows children to act out scenarios and to make sense of situations they have already experienced or may come across in real life, but in a supported environment where children can explore different emotional responses to these social situations. Role-play is an important way for children to explore who they are as individuals as they carve a place into the world around them. Being someone else for a time gives kids the freedom to test out different roles and personalities but also helps them to build confidence and in turn, self-esteem.

It helps to develop good social skills

Even as children decide on the topic of their game and the rules of engagement they are learning skills like collaboration and negotiation but as the role-play develops children are learning to walk in someone else’s shoes and developing their understanding of how others react to different situations, which makes them more empathetic. As children engage in role-play they develop communication skills, learning to choose their words carefully so that others can understand them as well as listening to others in order for the game to run smoothly.

It can be educational

Whether children are stomping around pretending to be elephants, cooking pretend cakes or playing doctors and nurses, role-play can teach them about the world. What sound does an elephant make? What ingredients go together to make a cake? What do nurses say to their patients? These kinds of games can improve general knowledge, vocabulary and even number and motor skills. Role-play is a fun way to introduce important topics and explore other cultures. It can be amusing or slightly disconcerting when you hear a little one repeat a very grown-up phrase but role-play is a great way to try out new words and, with a little help, get to understand what they mean too!

ShowKids’ after-school performing arts workshops use role-play in a fun but supported environment help children to connect with others, find confidence, foster creativity and develop social skills. Our caring, expert practitioners will bring out the best in your child through drama, singing and dance. 

Find out more and book your child’s free taster here

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More coming soon…

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Watch this space for more articles related to your child!