Family friendly live performances are a wonderful introduction for your child into the world of performing arts. Here are some tips to help children prepare for visits to performance venues.

Before your visit:

• Call the theater in advance and ask how long the show will last and the age the performance is intended for.

• Explain what you will see and hear during the performance with your child. Talk about the characters, tell the story, or listen to other music in the same style. If the performance is based on a storybook, read it beforehand with your child.

• Review appropriate audience manners. Remind your child of how to behave among large groups, out in public, and during quiet times. Explain when applause is appropriate.

On the day of the visit:

• Arrive early so there is plenty of time to explore the theater. You might take a close-up look at the stage or peer into the orchestra pit. An early arrival also leaves plenty of time to use the restroom and find your seats.

• Recognize that it is okay to leave before the end of the performance. Preschoolers may find even a half-hour event too long. One adult can take the child who has reached his or her limits to the lobby or outdoors to play a game or read a story.

After the performance

• Talk about what you just saw and heard. Ask, “What did you think?” “What did you like best?”And “Which characters were your favorites?”

• Read a related book or do an art, music, or dance project. Provide dress-up clothes, puppets, props, and other materials so your child can reenact the performance.


Source: Adapted from the Message in a Backpack, Teaching Young Children 4 (3): 11

© National Association for the Education of Young Children — Promoting excellence in early childhood education