Starring in a circus is a fantasy aspiration for many children. But for some children, it goes far beyond fantasy. My own son is in the process of developing his own clown and circus-themed web show. He is only 8 years old and has elaborate plans and has started the production. Not every child will have this exact type of plan. So, how do you know if your child is ready to get more serious and begin circus training?
How well does your child listen to instructions? This is one of the most important qualities a circus performer will need to have. While each individual can and should be creative, there are certain techniques that may need to be learned. Being able to listen and follow directions is key to getting both old and new tricks solid and performance-ready. When your child begins circus training, he will need to listen to you or an instructor, depending on who is doing the training.
Is your child creative? Many children interested in circus performance will display it in their play. Does your child have his stuffed animals act out a circus scene? Perhaps your child dresses up as a clown and cheers people up (with or without the costume) on a regular basis, like mine does. If your child is doing creative planning or acting out circus scenes regularly, he or she may be more serious about the circus than you think. Don’t brush this off as child’s play if it is frequent.
Does your child enjoy performing for you? This is a big giveaway when it comes to discerning a true interest in the circus from normal child’s play. If your child is putting on elaborate shows for you or doing it often, she may be trying to tell you something. My son has always been the main one interested in clowning and was doing this frequently. I never realized my 9 year old was interested as well until she started joining in just recently. They have now decided that she will be in the clown web show as well and are always planning the shows. They perform for me regularly as practice for their show.
How is your child around large crowds? If your child is too shy or has stage fright, circus performing may not be the best plan of action until the child has reconciled those issues. On the other hand, if your child will perform regardless of who is there, he or she is very likely ready to do it professionally. I knew when we filmed the first music video for the family band (unrelated to the circus performances, but did contain a clown) that the kids were ready for the big time. We filmed all of the scenes in public locations and the kids had no problems following through with the scenes. They ignored anyone who was spectating and did what they had to do.
Do you have motivational supplies on hand? You can’t expect your child to practice without some inspiration. Just the dream itself can be wonderful motivation. But everyone has days where they need something more. The most important thing to remember is that when your child is practicing, you should always have plenty of food and water on hand. They can and will get tired and unmotivated if they can’t keep their energy levels up with appropriate nutrition. I find that combining their favorite tastes to make healthy options is the best motivator. Beyond this, also bring along their favorite toys and games and remember to take breaks in between. Have rewards ready for when they reach certain goals and have a good practice. If your child is hard to motivate, then circus training may not be the best option.
Final note: Even if your child is not ready for professional training, you can still let him or her have fun and learn some tricks. Also a reminder for those who do have children serious about this career path, keep it fun. Remember, that is what the circus is all about. Keep the professionalism, but never lose the fun.
Clowning resources in Denver
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Red Skelton Clown School