Be actively involved
Sunil Vishnu believes that parents can also be involved by asking the right questions. “Parents need to understand what is taught in theatre classes and the process itself. The quality of discussion that they have with the child and their engagement levels will depend on this.” While enrolling the child, ask if you could attend the first Children and Theatre session to get a hang of the process that will be followed.
Be a cheerleader and fellow theatre lover
“My folks attended all my performances and encouraged me during the rehearsals. That felt good,” recalls Kunahan Thampi. Take your children along to performances, so you can enjoy the art of theatre as a family. “Parents can be catalysts of discovery by exposing their children – I feel that the more children watch and the more they are in the space of something creative, the more likely they are to imbibe it,” adds Dr.Zulfia Shaikh.
Try to quantify or control
Do not let an achievement mind-set creep in for the passions and interests your child may pursue. Do not obsess about your child getting the meatiest role or the largest number of lines to speak. Breathing down their necks or sending vibes of ‘high stakes’ involved will dampen your child’s natural interests and motivations. Be available, but maintain a distance, especially with older children. “My wife and I were only the supporting cast, making sure the children ate well and on time, and keeping them cheerful and charged up. We refrained from asking them to perform their parts to check their performance,” says Ramu Sharma.
Overestimate the role of talent
You may think, “But if theatre is an art, then surely people who are inherently talented will excel. Can and will others take to it well?” Dr. Zulfia Shaikh addresses this doubt, “While some children are definitely born with an innate ability, even that has to be honed as there are skills to be developed. On the other hand, there may be some children for whom theatre may not be second nature, but they will also benefit from the experience.”
Underestimate your child’s inclination to learn
Contrary to popular belief, theatre experts and practitioners all believe that children want to learn. They believe that teachers just need to talk to them in a language they understand, so that every child can learn and absorb the various aspects of theatre.