One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is having the time and flexibility to allow my children to immerse themselves in their interests. Being on stage is a passion for my two older girls. They love an audience.
They recently performed in The Wizard of Oz through the Community Learning Project in Newtown. It was an all homeschooled cast, ranging in age from 4-16.
They were more than simply participants taking orders. They were immersed in rehearsals for nearly two months. The director took the time to listen to their ideas and incorporate them when possible.
Oz took over our lives.
The final show was Friday.
The Adventurer (13) woke up Saturday morning said (dramatically, of course), “What am I going to do now?”
Even my youngest -who has no interest in being on stage- enjoyed watching the rehearsals so much that she’s already asked when practice for the next play will begin.
They had a blast. And they learned a few important things along the way.
7 Life Skills Learned from the Performing Arts
1. Perseverance – There were many days that they wanted to skip rehearsal. “Why can’t we call in sick?” They had made a commitment and they learned to see it through, even on the days when they would have preferred to do something else. They didn’t always enjoy rehearsal. Tech rehearsal was boring. Blocking rehearsals felt tedious. They stuck it out to get to the good stuff.
2. Accountability. Their friends were counting on them to show up and rehearse. The director needed them to be there and know their part well. I reminded them of this (gently) when their motivation was lacking. And they didn’t resist, because they cared.
3. Team Work and a Sense of Community. Putting on a production with a cast of 20 kids, sets, amazing costumes and complex stage lighting and tech required the kids (and parents) to work together with the directors. They helped each other out on stage, encouraged each other and respected other actors work.
4. Creativity. The kids were encouraged to recreate their characters and make them their own. Toto disco danced. Oz was a beautiful, powerful woman, yet a bit forgetful and fearful of angry scarecrows. They both learned how to express themselves a little through their characters.
5. Non-verbal communication – As Toto, my 9 year-old was on stage through the entire show. She became a dog for the duration of the show and communicated through facial expressions, tail wagging and body language.
6. Confidence – Putting your heart and soul into a project, seeing it through to the end and receiving recognition for a job well done builds confidence. Learning to take center stage and perform in front of a large audience is empowering. Both of my girls have done this before, but each time seems to present new challenges.
7. How to utilize constructive criticism. Feedback from the director was not always easy to hear, but they were able to listen and apply it to their performance.
It wasn’t a happy, perfect experience for every moment of every rehearsal. There were plenty of challenges.
People often imply that by homeschooling, I’m sheltering my kids from all possible pain and suffering. They think my girls will never learn to function in the real world.
It makes me laugh.
Isn’t it obvious that where there are people, there are issues?
We had our share of social issues (personal bubble invasion by other cast members), jealousy (why did ___ get that part and not me?), whining (4 hours of rehearsal is too long!), fear (could there ever be another shooting here in Newtown, Mom? and what if my pants fall down on stage and the audience sees?). They fought their own demons too, like stage fright and knee pain from crawling around on all fours.
Now, they ask me everyday if I’ve heard from the director about the next play. What do you think she’ll pick? Do you think I’ll get the lead? Should I learn the songs now just in case? I cannot wait for the next play!
I haven’t heard a thing. I just smile and say “I’m sure it’ll be great.”