For many parents, the past two years has meant juggling homeschooling with new work-from-home routines. Maybe you’ve also thrown life in a new country into the mix, and understandably parental guilt and worry goes through the roof. Will my kids make new friends? How quickly will they learn the language?
The pandemic has also meant many children haven’t had access to after-school activities. No sport, music lessons, swim training or drama class – in addition to limited social activities and celebrations. We know, it’s been tough.
As well as the worries over what children have missed out on, there is also concern around the impact on child development. Children depend on both school and extracurricular activities to build their social interaction skills. Research published in Child: Care, Health and Development in March this year shows that online or virtual interactions do not meet these same needs: “The use of virtual communication is convenient but does not replace face-to-face peer interactions.”
The effects of the pandemic
It is unsurprising that the health of young people is negatively affected by the pandemic, with many struggling with feelings of isolation and anxiety. Now, they are having to adapt to social situations again and the negative impact has become even clearer. In January this year, the American Psychological Association announced that “mental illness and the demand for psychological services are at all-time highs – especially among children.”
However, embracing activities like music and art, which help kids to channel their emotions into something creative, are proving to be helpful for children around the world as they settle back into a new normal.
As we emerge from pandemic restrictions, companies like Stagecoach Performing Arts are reporting a rise in demand for their acting, singing and dancing classes. “We have seen a seven percent increase in student numbers since pre-Covid times,” says Andy Knights, CEO of Stagecoach Performing Arts.
The company has an impressive 3,000-plus extra-curricular performing arts schools and classes operating in eight countries around the world: Canada, Spain, Malta, Gibraltar, Australia, Germany, UK, Lithuania. Stagecoach Performing Arts also offers exciting programs like Dance the Dream, which gives students the opportunity to dance in a parade at Disneyland Paris.
“This is an amazing opportunity for [children] to perform in one of the most magical places in the world. Our aim is to provide our students with Creative Courage for Life – and Dance the Dream at Disneyland Paris does just that. It’s also wonderful that they can share the experience with their families,” says Stagecoach Bath Principal, Sandra Moyo.
Performing arts classes have a range of benefits for young people. Photo: Stagecoach Performing Arts
Good for mind and body
Performing arts education – typically classes like acting, dancing and singing – has a number of clear mental and physical benefits for children. A May 2021 paper published by Psychological Thought looked at the effect of performing arts during and post-pandemic. It found that participating in arts projects helps build self-esteem, autonomy, and senses of competence and belonging, all of which are needed to contribute to wellbeing.
Stagecoach’s Educational Framework provides an opportunity for students to creatively express themselves, which is an important outlet for young people to understand and process their emotions, especially while their communication skills are still developing.
Of course, extracurricular activities like dance are great for kids’ physical fitness too, with plenty of energy burned off during performances and rehearsals.
Learning life skills
The classes offered by award-winning companies like Stagecoach give children and young people valuable skills for life and assist with socialisation. Beyond taking to the stage to sing, dance and perform, students are learning how to collaborate, listen, take on board feedback and problem solve.
This is even more relevant for international kids settling into a new country, who will benefit from new friendships, improving language skills, empathy, teamwork skills, and building confidence.
Importantly, the Stagecoach ethos is to deliver Creative Courage for Life. It’s about teaching students to be confident enough to be themselves by using the skills developed through singing, acting and dance classes.
Help settling in to a new life
Moving abroad can be a hard time for kids, and even more so in today’s rocky climate.
After a couple of years of restrictions, people of all ages are keen to meet new friends and join in on new activities in an effort to fill the gap of what’s been missed. So now more than ever, extra-curricular activities like those offered in the performing arts, are important for children’s development.
“Stagecoach continues to grow and expand our network with the objective of teaching Creative Courage for Life to children and young people around the world. Through singing, dancing, and acting, our students develop the skills required to perform on the biggest stage of all – the stage of life,” says Andy Knights, CEO of Stagecoach Performing Arts.
Particularly if you are new to a country, it can be challenging to find the right after-school classes and opportunities for your kids. Many countries, like Germany, are known to be inconsistent in terms of what is offered.
Signing up to after-school or holiday period classes and workshops in performing arts not only gives kids a chance to shine and develop, it can be a way for parents to feel part of a new community too. And Stagecoach, which has been teaching kids since 1988, has more than 300 franchisees around the world. So whether you want to do something to help your child settle in or if you’re looking for a business idea, this is your sign.