You want to be a WHAT?
It started off innocent enough. Your daughter dancing around the house in a pink tutu, your son singing the latest One Direction hit at the top of his lungs during X-Factor, the nativity plays and baby ballet. But you've noticed that it is starting to take over their life. The proud smile while watching them on stage has started to mingle with the cold sweat as you wait for the inevitable declaration: “I want to be a performer!” Fear not! We have been conditioned to believe that a life in the performing arts is not one of the top five career choices, but performing arts training can provide both invaluable life skills as well as highly sought after transferable skills to help your child both in school and beyond. I know that both my early experience in performing arts as well as my formal training helped make me the person I am now. (I was actually one of the rare cases where my mother talked me in to being a professional artist, I wanted to be a mechanical engineer.) So let's take a look at the ways performing arts training can help your child develop both socially and academically. Academically, performing arts training can help your child's development in a number of ways. The communication skills developed through singing and acting help children become more articulate, expressive, persuasive and generally more confident when dealing with both groups and individuals. Listening skills are developed through improvisation games, playing theatre scenes and working with music in both singing and dance classes. Co-operation, collaboration and team work are developed by working as part of an ensemble, relying on your fellow performers to do the right thing at the right time and working together for a group outcome. The focus required for performing arts classes and rehearsal can help provide a disciplined structure to a child's life, helping them increase their attention span and concentration levels. The social benefits virtually mirror the academic advantages. Working as an ensemble, part of a team, encourages new, strong friendships. Children broaden their artistic and cultural horizons by being introduced to various forms of music, literature, ideas and cultures through plays, dance pieces and song. Finally both classes and performance can help a child deal with stress by providing a natural outlet for physical, mental and emotional tension. I think the biggest advantage both academically and socially of performing arts training is the development of a person's self confidence. I'm not talking about the somewhat deluded first round X-Factor confidence. The more subtle examples are much more powerful. A few years ago I witnessed this first hand with a student who sat virtually silent for the first few acting classes. He would get involved in the exercises but was painfully shy. Over the course of a term he slowly built up the confidence to say a single line in front of an audience in a performance. Now, this may seem a minor victory, however after the performance his mother came up to me thanking us in the school for this small shift in his confidence. He was now able to raise his hand in school and take a more active role with friends. Its these small shifts in a child's development that can have a profound impact on their life. This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully will ease your initial fears and give you, the parent, the strength to support your child on their amazing journey. So, when your little darling says they want to be a ballerina, or a movie star or a pop star there is no need to break out in a cold sweat. If this is just a phase, then the training they receive can serve them very well in all aspects of their life. If this is more than just a phase then finding the right training by experienced professional performers and teachers can give them the motivation and direction to pursue their dreams.