Parents Participation Day

3 03 2013

Parents do stagecoachOn Saturday morning I woke with a light hangover and a growing sense of unease that I had forgotten to do something important. Before I had even made me way as far as the kettle on my mission to coax my brain into some sort of action; it dawned on me that my PT job was having ANOTHER theme day and that I may be a tad ill prepared. The premise was that Parents would participate in the lessons alongside their children. This meant that my class sizes would be doubled and the age range would be very broad.

Regular readers will be aware that I love my part time job at a children’s theatre school. I am also very good at it! But in the difficult financial climate no industry is bulletproof and we have to fight for our survival along with everyone else. With this in mind my boss organised a number of marketing strategies to raise our profile and encourage new members to join our little community. This has required comparatively little effort on his part but has become a major Drama for the three teachers.

Bring a Friend day for example was a fabulous opportunity for parents to send their kids to us for a free day of babysitting this doubled our class numbers and was not the most relaxing experience for my colleagues and I. I think some kids signed up afterwards but whether it was proportional to the effort we had to put in is not clear.

This Saturday the decision to invite parents to join us in every lesson was problematic. For those of you unfamiliar with the process of planning lessons: it is difficult to pitch a lesson appropriately if you have a wide range of abilities and age groups in your class. Pitch it too high and you lose the lowest ability in the group but aim too low and the more gifted students become bored. When the age range is anywhere between 6 and 60 it is a challenge to come up with appropriate material. Add to this the fact that the parents are taking the opportunity to assess whether they are getting value for money with their child’s weekend classes and the pressure is definitely on.

Some parents arrived willingly but others had clearly been coerced and this was a little painful at times – it can be difficult to motivate some children on Saturday mornings without their parents modelling behaviour that suggests it doesn’t matter and they don’t have to put in any effort.

Then there were the kids who did not have a parent come in to join them who were adopted by our volunteers for the day.

On the other hand; when we all joined together at the end of the day to show our work it was undoubtedly one of the funniest experiences I have ever had. Seeing the parents have quality time with their children was heart warming and their realisation of how difficult it can be to simply stand on stage in front of a crowd did promote empathy. Watching some of our ‘army dads’ dancing to “All the single ladies” was a real highlight not to mention the uncontrollable breakdown of one Dad as he sang Titanium in a choir bringing us all to tears.

Overall it was a successful day and a rewarding experience for all parties concerned. However it was extremely exhausting and I have made an executive decision that unless my pay correlates directly with the numbers of students in my charge then I am DONE with theme days and special events…at least for the time being 😉

I'm part of Post A Day 2013

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