Does the thought of taking your child to the theater give you the chills? Have you needed a night of culture but had to put it off because you can’t find a babysitter? Taking your child to the theater is a great way to expose them to a night of culture while spending quality time together. But how do you make sure your night at the theater together is an enjoyable one? Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip to the theater.
- Try going to a movie first. That's right. Depending on your child's age, it may make sense to check out a movie first. See if there can take sitting still for that long and also being able to tolerate the more intense visual and audio stimulation. I know some kids who hate going to the movies because it's too loud for their ears. If they can't do it and you have to leave in the middle, at least it's a $9 ticket instead of $20-30.
- Pick the right play. Yup, this one’s a no-brainer. Phantom of the Opera with a five-year-old. Get ready to be by his bedside with phantoms in his sleep for a few weeks. Lion King? Now that might work. Better yet, pick a story that the child is familiar with – she’ll already be somewhat familiar with the plot and the characters, and the theatre will bring it to a new light.
- Have a discussion with your child before the theater. If a child knows what to expect from the theater, they are more likely to enjoy the event. To help facilitate this, go online and look up images of the production you are planning to see. Show your child photos from the actual production and explain the story to them beforehand. If they have an idea going into the production about what will be happening, their minds are less likely to wander and grow bored.
- Get to the theater early. Let your child explore the theater before getting settled in your seats. Let them walk off some of their energy in the outer areas of the theater and allow them to “take in” all of the majestic decorations that many theaters have. When it comes time to get seated, let them tell the usher where you are supposed to sit to give them a sense of responsibility. Tell your child that it’s time to be quiet once the lights come down so they know how to behave during the play.
- Let your child meet the actors. Many productions have the actors stand in the back to “meet and greet” the audience and to sign autographs following a show. If this happens at the show you are attending, let your child talk to the actors if they want to. This will be an exciting experience for them and it may be something they will remember for a lifetime. Go the extra mile and ask if you can get a photo of your child posing with his or her favorite actor in the play.
- Discuss the play afterwards. Make an entire evening of the play and go out for ice cream or snacks following the production. Have a discussion with your child and them what they liked or didn’t like about the play. Ask them what they would have done differently if they were in the play.
- Show your child any reviews of the play. If the production has a review printed in the newspaper the next day, show it to your child. Many reviews are printed with pictures of the play. Your child will look at this and be assured that they were a part of something special.