How Acting Classes can help your Child

You may think your child is too young, too shy, or too rambunctious to benefit from acting classes, and that enrolling him or her would just be a colossal waste of time and money.  Think again! Acting classes are an excellent way of helping your child mature, become more expressive, and learn to focus, and provide a host of other benefits as well. Whether it be through summer camp, after-school specials, or weekly acting classes, acting programs are a fun and educational way to help your child develop into a well-rounded adult.

Acting classes promote self-esteem.  Many children suffer from low self-esteem, for a variety of reasons.  Maybe they are not particularly good at sports or academics.  Maybe they live in the shadow of a more popular or more successful older sibling.  Maybe they feel they are too short, too tall, too thin, too heavy, have too many freckles, wear glasses or braces, or are otherwise dissatisfied with their physical appearance.  Whatever the reason, at some point in their life, many children feel  inadequate or inferior, even though of course they are not.  A child who feels this way may become shy or withdrawn, or the reverse-may become frustrated and angry, and seek to overcompensate by becoming the class clown, or worse, the class bully.  Acting classes for children can help lessen or alleviate these feelings. The shy child will learn to overcome her shyness when she is dressed up as a princess onstage.  The class clown will learn how to channel his humor to use during appropriate venues. The bully will learn that successful acting requires teamwork-if you don’t support your cast mates, who will support you?  And the child who think she is too short, too tall, whatever, will learn to realize that, when involved in acting, these physical differences do not matter at all.  After all, many of the world’s best actors are below average height!

Acting classes teach good socialization skills.  Acting is a discipline that combines both individuality and teamwork.  By enrolling your child in acting classes, you will allow him to develop his individuality while learning how to interact positively with others who share a common interest.  Learning lines in a play, even one designed for toddlers, requires kids to work together, wait their turn to speak, share props.  Acting classes even help children learn the concepts of appropriate personal space and permissible touching.  And as your child gets older, she will begin reading different styles of scripts, in different genres, reflecting the interactions of the characters in numerous situations, settings, and time-periods.  This exposure cannot help but broaden your child’s horizons and influence how she responds when interacting with others off the stage.

Acting classes help develop public speaking skills.  Children learn to perform before a small-or large-audience, which may be the most valuable benefit of children’s acting classes.  Being able to speak without embarrassment (or at least controlling embarrassment) is important at work, in social settings, and in life.  Just because a child takes acting classes does not mean he or she will grow up to be a sometimes actor who waits tables for a living!  Public speaking is important in many disciplines: teachers, lawyers, doctors, religious leaders, salespeople, and journalists, for example, all need to develop public speaking skills to be successful in their chosen fields.  And, in the world of business/finance/marketing, effective public speaking skills are a must.  Very few people become CEOs if they can’t project confidence and determination to their workforce through public speaking.  And, if your child does decide to become an entertainer of some sort, having taken acting classes will of course help him succeed in the world of entertainment as well.

Acting classes promote behavioral discipline.  Just as playing a team sport teaches kids how to work together for mutual benefit, acting classes can help foster better behavior in your child.  The kids must learn to follow the teacher’s rules and instructions; how to play and interact creatively and yet safely; and how to take turns speaking, dancing, or moving about on stage.  They learn how to follow cues before making their next move; how to stand still (or at least stay in position) until it is their turn to move; and how to share the spotlight.  And yet, unlike a discipline such as martial arts, they are still allowed to express themselves and show individuality, while working together as a group, which helps them learn how to interact as an individual within boundaries.

Acting classes are fun for kids! Perhaps most importantly, kids have fun at acting class.  Acting classes foster imaginative play, as most acting programs devote at least a class or two on improvisation or, for older children, writing and acting out their own skits. The kids get to become someone else-a pirate, or a princess, or a tiger, and get to dress up and behave the way a pirate, a princess, or a tiger does.  And they are part of a built-in social group whose members are all playing and dressing up and imagining in the same or similar ways.  Working together on an acting  project, whether it be a short skit or a full-length production, helps kids build bonds of friendship that will last throughout their time at summer camp, or the school  year, and often well into the future.

In sum, the many benefits of enrolling your child in acting classes far outweigh the drawbacks-namely time and expense-and I strongly urge every parent to allow their child to have the opportunity to be in the limelight.  After all, to quote the famous bard: “All the world’s a stage,” that we all need to learn how to act in, so why not give your child the opportunity to learn early and well how to succeed on the world stage?