Congratulations! Your child landed a role that takes you both out of your usual setting. Now what? Whether you are on a film set in one location or traveling to many cities with a national tour, there are pros and cons to tackling the challenges you and your child will face. With a little thought and effort, there are great reasons to forge ahead. Here are four solid life lessons that your child can learn while being away from home.
Traveling. Being on the road offers opportunities that you just won’t get by sticking to the traditional routes of education and local productions. Everything about working out of town is a new experience the first time. Talk with your child about his needs and how to meet them while traveling. Transportation, housing, meals, clothing, regular appointments, vitamins/medicines, exercise, and activities need to be considered and decided. Planning itineraries, using maps, utilizing public transportation, and living in hotels or other accommodations—these are all life skills that you can teach your child while you help him take the steps he needs to arrive on day one.
Accountability. Help your child take stock of her responsibilities at home before leaving. Who will do her chores? Are there pets that will need care and feeding? How will her younger brother or sister feel about her being gone? How will she continue her education since she cannot attend school during this period? This serves to show your child that she is important to the family and that her contributions matter. It also teaches her that she is responsible for finding alternate solutions for her existing commitments—to herself and others—before heading out.
Education. Giving up traditional education can be a hard choice for many parents (and some kids). Granted, it provides a no-brainer solution to educating our children when they are home, but it can be worth the effort to design customized solutions for your child when he is on the road. Alan Simon, president of On Location Education, a tutoring service that supplies certified traveling teachers to most theatrical national tours says, “I understand parents’ concerns about pulling their children from school for six months to a year, and depending on the actor’s physical growth spurts, to several years at a time. It can certainly be off-putting to be away from the traditional classroom for these extended periods. But think of what’s gained by being in a touring classroom! There’s one-to-one, or close to it, attention from the touring teacher. It’s truly a one-room schoolhouse. There’s the incorporation of local field trips as part of the lessons.” The personalized focus can mean it takes much less time for a child to learn the necessary material, leaving him free to pursue other activities or subjects. Which brings us to exposure…!
Exposure. The world is the biggest educational academy that there is! When traveling to different areas of the country or parts of the world, there is so much to learn! Your child will be meeting people from unique walks of life, hearing new dialects or foreign languages, tasting their foods, dancing to their music, and gaining exposure to fresh ideas with every encounter. Days off can be filled with local museums, geography, history, or cultural events. There is no better way to expand one’s understanding of the world than to interact with different slices of life in real time. This is valuable for actors, to be sure, as they absorb various ways of speaking, moving, and behaving. It is also important for developing compassionate human beings. Seeing how little we each are in the grand scheme of things and how big the world is helps our children understand that the world does not revolve around them. It teaches us to value other people, listen to their perspectives, and learn from their experiences.
So remember, there are many opportunities that open up when you step outside of your comfort zone. Keep your child involved in the process and he will get even more out of the experience. Be brave and go for it!