Laughter—It’s Good for the Soul

Laughter is good for the soul

 

When was the last time you laughed at yourself? Better question— when was the last time your children laughed at themselves?

Humor is a fundamental item in the world of drama and especially useful in our Drama Kids International programs. Not only is laughter good for the soul, but being able to laugh at yourself also has many practical benefits, including boosting leadership skills and aiding mental and physical health!

According to Lifeway’s Selma Wilson, there are three excellent reasons that leaders should be laughing at themselves: It makes them real, it makes them reachable, and it helps gives others the freedom to laugh at themselves as well.

These three things can also translate for children, especially those who are interested in leadership or performing. Often, those in leadership roles can seem disconnected from the population, but by realizing that laughing at themselves is 100 percent OK, it helps them seem no different than you or me. We are all human, and funny goof-ups happen. Being able to laugh at those is what helps us keep our humanity intact!

Laughter truly can be the best medicine where our physical and mental health is concerned. According to NBC News Better, not taking ourselves too seriously has excellent benefits for mental health. Laughing at yourself is a sign that you’re more resilient and able to handle life when it doesn’t go your way. The news station also referenced a 2009 study by the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore that found how an active sense of humor can help protect against heart attacks and prevent heart disease. Laughing at yourself can also help boost short-term memory and aid in pain management.

According to Lifehack, laughter has nine excellent benefits for our whole person.

Laughter can:

1   Stimulate the full body

2   Make you feel better

3   Increase your immunity

4   Promote heart health

5   Help you stress less

6   Increase connection with others

7   Burn calories

8   Boost mood and confidence

9   Help you get through difficult times

At Drama Kids International, we know the value of comedy and laughter and are careful to include it in all facets of our drama programs. We love to laugh and love to see children benefit from the joys of laughter.

Interested in finding out more about how laughter can help your child develop leadership skills and confidence? We’re ready and waiting to discuss it with you, as are any of our Drama Kid International locations!

The Many Benefits of Improv for Children

 

At Drama Kids International, we are continually seeing the benefits drama classes can have for children. You may not know it, but our fun, fast-paced, developmental curriculum consists of more than 450 unique lesson plans – which feature various activities that aid your child in very specific ways.

From class plays, scene starters and mini-snippets (just to name a few), rest assured that each activity is helping your child continually work on speech development and communication skills, creative movement, self-confidence and other important life skills. Our favorite activities at DKI are those that focus on improvisation. After all, what better way is there to encourage creativity and imagination than by doing improv exercises?

You’ll be happy to know that there are many benefits of improv for children, and not just in the creative realm, but in the academic world, too!  Improv is most commonly found on college campuses, but some high schools have picked up on the benefits it can provide students. At Drama Kids, we’ve long acknowledged the impact improv can present. Think of it as helping boost the four C’s: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

There’s no right or wrong answer in improv, which goes along with creativity, but you surely have to be able to think quick on your feet (critical thinking). Also, with improv, the children must work together to make things flow (collaboration) and then clearly communicate their ideas and antics.

Improv can help children learn in many different ways, including having a mutual respect for others and their ideas and building confidence that will pay dividends in the educational classroom. Improv can also be used by instructors to learn their students’ various strengths and weaknesses! For those children who are on the autism spectrum, improv can be an excellent way for them to learn how to better read body language and pick up on others’ emotions.

There is even a place for improv in your very own home! We know this may seem less than ideal, after all there are just some things that shouldn’t be improvised on. It’s more the “yes, and” aspect that applies. By utilizing this one improv rule, you can become an agreeable and active participant in your child’s life – and by listening, you can truly discover what your child wants or the motives behind his or her actions!

If you’d like to know more about the benefits that improv can have in your child’s life, our Drama Kids International team would be happy to discuss them with you! Explore our various programs online and reach out to the Drama Kids location near you – it’s time you found out why the “difference is dramatic” with DKI!

The Dangerous Impacts of Smartphones for Teenagers

 

“I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”

Take a moment to let those words sink in, the words of a 13-year-old girl who is growing up in a generation that has never lived without the Internet or without smartphones. A generation that according to Dr. Jean M. Twenge, has developed a far less rebellious side and is more tolerant than its predecessors, yet continues to see a rise in depression. Fortunately, as we’ll point out later on, there are some steps you can take to help limit your teen’s dependency on the smartphone!

It may seem overly dramatic to claim that “smartphones are ruining a generation,” yet we must admit that this “iGen” (children born between 1995 and 2012) dependence on them is concerning. Data shows that almost 70 percent of 11- to 12-year-olds use a mobile phone, with that number increases to nearly 90 percent by age 14. Some 56 percent of children between ages 10 and 13 own a smartphone. It’s pretty much commonplace for an adolescent to have a smartphone, and their screen time remains something that is very concerning.

Twenge points out in her Atlantic article that while iGen kids are physically safer than teens have ever been, they are far more vulnerable than Millennials were for teen depression and suicide. The constant need to be on a smartphone can also have some negative impacts on the health of teenagers, as inactivity can lead to weight gain, loss of sleep due to staying up too late, and even injuries to thumbs or wrists. According to Twenge, all screen time can be linked to less happiness, despite reports that up to six hours a day are safe for teens as long as they are “doing well in school.”

Have you noticed that your teen’s behavior seems to be directly linked to the smartphone that’s an extension of his or her hand? Is your child beginning to show signs of communication struggles or seeming more and more withdrawn?

There are ways to help tone down your teen’s smartphone usage! According to Scary Mommy, there are five specific things you can do to tone down your kids’ dependence: limiting daily use, keeping the phone nearby so they can’t hide away in their bedroom with it, taking their phone with you at bedtime, dangling the smartphone “like a carrot” whenever you can and always knowing the password to unlock the phone!

Remember that Drama Kids International has programs especially tailored to tap into your teen’s communication skills and encourages healthy self-esteem and self-confidence in all who participate! Reach out to your local Drama Kids and see what we can offer your child!

How Drama Classes Provide Kids With Valuable Life Lessons

Development through drama is what we’re all about at Drama Kids International! In addition to helping children learn and hone their drama skills, we are also developing public speaking and communication skills and instilling valuable life lessons in them through our exciting programming!

The benefits of drama classes for kids include increased academic performance and nourishment for their imagination, but there are even more  important skills that can be learned through drama classes!

  1. Confidence. By participating in drama classes, children will see their confidence boosted through the various components of the class. If your child is shy, having the chance to be in a safe environment with peers could help him or her overcome that self-consciousness! The confidence gained through our classes is something that will stick with your child throughout his or her life!
  2. Improved communication skills. There is no question that practice makes perfect, and with the practice in various communication techniques provided in our highly structured programs, your child will be a skilled communicator for the rest of his or her life. Acting training helps kids learn the art of conversation, build suspense and improve their verbal timing. It also helps them improve non-verbal communication techniques such as body language.
  3. Appreciation for differing viewpoints. The world of theater is made up of many different personalities and people, much like the world we all live in! Through drama, children learn how to take other viewpoints and ideals under consideration, as they must understand where the character they are portraying comes from. This will spill over into their adult life and help them have a better understanding for those they encounter. Being able to relate to and appreciate those who are different than your child is an extremely important life skill to have!

We’ve only cracked the surface of what life lessons children can learn through DKI programming! If you would like to discuss the multitude that exist, we’d love to chat with you. Reach out to us online, and let’s continue the conversation!

Why We ACT UP! Where Bullying Is Concerned

 

Bullying is something that no one should be staying quiet about, which is why Drama Kids International introduced the ACT UP! to Stop Bullying initiative.

 

Chances are, we’ve all experienced bullying in some form or manner during our lives—but it’s something that is especially prevalent in school. Did you know that 1 in 3 U.S. students have reported being bullied at school and an astounding 70.6 percent of teens have seen bullying occur at their school?

 

Types of bullying include verbal bullying, social bullying and physical bullying. Verbal bullying includes teasing, name-calling, taunting, threatening and inappropriate sexual comments. Social bullying can include leaving someone out on purpose, telling other children to not be friends with someone, embarrassing someone in public and spreading rumors about someone. Physical bullying is anything that involves hurting a person’s body or possessions.

 

Something that has grown even more common is cyberbullying. With the increased popularity of social media and ease of accessing it, nearly 43 percent of children have been bullied online, while one-in-four have had it happen more than once.

 

Bullying can have a long-lasting impact on those who experience it, both physically and emotionally. Did you know that those who are bullied are more at risk for mental health problems, headaches and struggling to adjust to school? Those who are bullied also are at increased risk for substance use, academics issues and violence to others later on, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

 

We want to do our part to help make bullying a thing of the past, which is why we are proud to offer ACT UP! to Stop Bullying workshops, which are designed for children in third, fourth and fifth grade. The workshops involve student participation in drama activities and group discussions that are used to teach them about the various forms of bullying and how they can properly respond to those situations if they ever arise.

Drama Kids International specializes in helping children build up their self-esteem, and no one’s self-esteem is being bolstered by bullying. It is our goal to see the ACT UP! workshops help teach children the roles they can play when bullying occurs, how to model good behavior, and how to identify bullying and practice safe and effective interventions.

 

If you would like to learn more about our ACT UP! to Stop Bullying initiative, reach out! We’d love to see it come to a school near you!

3 Ways to Inspire Creativity in Your Kids

Imagination is something that is especially important in your children’s lives, and it is also something that we celebrate daily here at Drama Kids International!

You’re never too old to indulge your imagination, and creativity and imagination are things that most recognize as being just as important in life as knowledge. After all, Albert Einstein himself once said “the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination!” Since imagination and creativity go hand-in-hand, we felt that sharing a few ways to inspire creativity in your kids would be especially beneficial as school gets back in session.

1. Encourage activities that spur their imagination. The possibilities here can seem endless, but you could pull out old photos, some craft supplies, such as glue, markers, construction paper or glitter (if you’re feeling brave), and let your kids decide ways to add to those photos. Perhaps they’ll design a new outfit or make it so the people in the photos are in a new location. Another idea is grabbing a bag and going for a walk, and during that walk have your kids pick up items (at least 10) and then once you return home, encourage them to create a story using those collected items.

2. Utilize technology. You may think that technology is making children less creative, but with the right usage and apps, it can help inspire their creativity and imagination. There are many apps out there that allow your kids to unlock their artistic side, you just have to select the one that is right for them!

3. Read aloud to them. It’s already known that reading with your children or encouraging them to read for 20 minutes a day can give them quite an educational boost, but reading aloud to them can also help bolster their creative side. Instead of having the pictures to look at themselves, your little ones will have the option to envision the story in their head, creating the characters and setting however their minds imagine it!

No matter how you decide to inspire that spark of creativity in your kids, you can rest assured that it will lead to great things for both their imagination and intelligence level. We can’t wait to hear about the methods your family elected to go with and would love to hear any new ideas you may have come up with!

Remember, Drama Kids International was designed to help your kids unlock their inner creativity, boost their self-esteem, and develop beneficial skills like public speaking, leadership and creative thinking!

10 Exciting Ideas for Family Fun Month

Just in case you didn’t know, August is Family Fun Month! While our team at Drama Kids is sure that your family has already been having a ton of fun this month, here are 10 family-friendly ideas worth trying out!

    1. Make a family music video.We all watch various music videos on YouTube and have seen those adorable homemade music videos go viral, so why not try your hand at it? Pick out a song that the whole family loves, coordinate your outfits, choreograph some dance moves and go to town! Don’t forget to share that video with us on Facebook!
    2. Put on a backyard play.Of course some theatrical offerings would pop up…….we are Drama Kids International after all! Your backyard could host a neighborhood play, with your family acting out parts of your favorite movies or even a special children’s book!
    3. Camp out in the backyard.There’s no need to pack up the car and drive to a campsite when your backyard is just as accessible. Perhaps you have a non-nature lover in the family or young children who might not be ready for the big campout yet—your backyard is a great place to introduce them to the outdoors. The indoor plumbing accessibility is just an added bonus!
    4. Go on a scavenger hunt.Plan a scavenger hunt through your neighborhood or perhaps a nearby park. Give your children a list of things to find, whether they are actual items or just landmarks. Then enjoy watching and helping them discover everything on the list!
    5. Host a dance party.This is probably self-explanatory, but bust out the tunes and get down with your bad selves! There’s nothing wrong with holding a family dance party, especially if it gives you a chance to show off those awesome moves to your kids!
    6. Enjoy a lazy Saturday.We’re often so busy that sometimes the most fun you can have is sleeping in on a Saturday then staying in your pajamas for the day. Everyone deserves a break now and then!
    7. Go star gazing.You can either do this in your backyard or if your star view is drowned out by city lights, drive a few miles out into “the country” and enjoy some quality night skies.
    8. Pack up a picnic.Does your family have a favorite park or spot to visit? Why not pack up some snacks or a meal and go enjoy it there?!
    9. Have an ice cream party.Pick out your favorite ice cream and enjoy it with your family. For a more interactive experience, perhaps try your hand at making your own ice cream!
    10. Have a movie marathon.This is perfect if rainy weather ruins a weekend. Break out some of your favorite childhood movies and share them with your kids.

We hope that your August has already been filled with tons of family fun and that it continues to be an excellent Family Fun Month! Remember, if your kids have a flair for the dramatics, our drama classes for kids are a great way for them to hone those skills and learn new ones!

Helpful Back-to-School Tips for Parents

With summer break getting closer to its end, the time to prepare your child for the new school year is fast-approaching. While our team at Drama Kids International offers drama programs for kids all year long, we still appreciate and understand the prep work that goes into getting them ready for a new school year. We hope that these tips prove beneficial to you as the back-to-school season gears up!

1. Get back on a normal sleep schedule. Summertime isn’t necessarily known as a time for keeping up with traditional sleep schedules. To get your child back on track for the upcoming school year, be sure to bring back school bedtimes one to two weeks before school actually gets started.

2. Visit educational attractions. You may have been doing this throughout the summer, but by visiting cultural attractions such as museums, you will be helping your kids get their brain back into educational mode.

3. Visit the school. If your child will be attending a new school, whether it’s due to a move or just from aging out of elementary or middle school, it can be very beneficial to visit the school so that it becomes more familiar. Schools always have registration and orientation days, which is also a perfect time to meet your child’s teacher(s).

4. Get a checkup. Taking your kids in for back-to-school physicals is a great way to keep them in tip-top shape. Since schools require children be up-to-date on immunizations, you can get that out of the way as well.

5. Read to your child. Hopefully this is already a habit in your home, but if it isn’t, perhaps it’s time to get started! Reading with your kids for just 20 minutes a day has been proven to make a difference in their overall education! If your child is not yet reading on his/her own, read to them. Otherwise, have them read out loud to you each day.

6. Set up a morning routine. By establishing a morning routine slightly before the start of school, it will make the actual school year get off to an excellent start.

7. Find activities for after school. Once school gets started, there will be a multitude of after-school activities for your child to become involved in. Decide which ones your child wants to do most, so that you can plan accordingly. If your child is dramatically inclined, or simply has an interest in participating in a fun, exciting activity where they can express themselves each week, don’t forget to check out the programs that Drama Kids offers! Drama Kids classes are carefully designed to be fun and challenging, while helping each child to develop public speaking and communication skills.

We hope that you enjoy the rest of summer break and that the upcoming back-to-school season doesn’t prove too stressful for the family! Remember, if it’s drama classes for kids you’re looking for, Drama Kids International is the place to go!

Be Wary of These Apps

Being able to enjoy some much-needed downtime is just one of the perks of summer, but our team at Drama Kids International wants to help ensure that your kids are using their time for good!

If your kids, tweens or teens have their own cell phones, more than likely, their world revolves around games, social media and various apps. Let’s face it, cell phones have practically become a new appendage—and the younger generation is far more technologically savvy than many of us are! With so many excellent apps available at the touch of a screen, there are still some apps that you should be looking out for on your child’s phone.

1. Kik. This is a free messaging app where the messages don’t show up as texts. Usernames are used, and it is possible for strangers to begin communicating with your child through Kik. Sadly, this app has already had a tragic outcome for a young girl that has raised awareness throughout the country.

2. WhatsApp. Another messaging app cracks our list, this time one that “has done for messaging what Skype did for video and voice calls.” WhatsApp allows users to communicate via messaging and share photos and videos in small groups or private messages. It is encrypted, but there are valid security concerns.

3. Snapchat. We hate to break it to you, but this app isn’t one that’s just being used for the fun face filters. While the photos have a timer or “self-destruct,” those pictures posted and sent on this app can still be saved via screenshot. Sexting and harassment are constant concerns with Snapchat. Another concern is the new feature, “snap map,” which can share your child’s location.

4. Whisper. This is an online community where users can interact anonymously. Some of the content posted can be extremely personal and often inappropriate for those under the age of 18.

5. YouNow. This app is just another in a long list of livestreaming video apps. Users can create and watch live broadcasts, but unfortunately, they can also accidentally share personal information with viewers they do not know.

We know that you’re already monitoring what your kids participate in with their cell phone, but remember, there are always new “bad apps” that pop up daily. Taking the time to communicate the dangers of certain apps and how to be smart with an online presence to your kids is very beneficial!

If you don’t already use a monitoring app on your child’s phone, TeenSafe is a great option. Available for iPhone and Android, this app allows you to securely monitor texts, phone calls, location, and web history.

Your kids are going to enjoy their downtime to the fullest over the summer, but remember, idle hands often lead to no good! Give them something other than their cell phone to focus on by taking advantage of the fun, educational and engaging summer drama programs that Drama Kids International has to offer!

8 Enjoyable Summer Activities for Children and Families

 

Summer is in full swing and that means one thing—you’re more than likely continuing to search for fun summer activities to keep the kids active and entertained.

It should come as no surprise that we at Drama Kids International know a thing or two about how to keep children occupied with fun activities. Since we want summer to be enjoyable for the whole family, here are 8 excellent ideas to try out!

1. Learn a new skill together. Have you ever wanted to take up painting or learn a musical instrument? Chances are, your child would enjoy picking up a new skill, too. Check out your local community center and see what they’re offering—perhaps a family paint night is on the schedule.

2. Join a summer reading club. Do you have avid readers in your home? Keep on encouraging your bookworms by enrolling them in a summer reading club. Their nights or rainy days can be occupied with books, which keeps their minds and imaginations active. Your local library can be a great resource and more than likely has a book club your child can join!

3. Visit the theatre. No, we’re not talking about going to the movies! Your little drama enthusiast will love a trip to see a show—and you’ll be helping to support community theatre!

4. Have a garage sale. Want to teach your child the value of a dollar while ridding your home of items that are no longer needed? A garage sale (or yard sale, depending on where you’re from) is a great way to make some extra cash. Your child can help price and sell some of his or her old items and then will have a little spending money for the summer.

5. Rearrange the furniture. Have your kids been wanting to redo their rooms? Let them try out their hand at interior decorating by planning a new look for their bedroom. It can always be changed back if it doesn’t work out.

6. Utilize local parks. Your area has built those parks for a reason, so why not go out and enjoy them?

7. Visit a historic site nearby. Practically every town has some sort of historic site either in it or nearby. Take a little trip to visit it and enjoy the history—it can also serve as a fun learning activity!

8. Check out a drama camp for kids. OK, this one happens to be our favorite on the list! Not only do we offer year-round drama programs for children, but we also have many super fun AND developmental summer drama camps kids and parents alike rave about. Each camp ends with an end-of-week performance! Through our website, you can find a Drama Kids location near you and then learn what they’re offering this summer.

We hope that this list of 8 summer activities can help make the summer break an excellent one for you and your family. Remember, for even more drama-based ideas, you can reach out to your local Drama Kids location.