Circus Workshops for Very Young Children
I've been asked a lot recently if we can supply workshops or parties
for children younger than our minimum
This next bit is long winded, for which I apologise, but for those
who want us to come and help with a group around or younger than
our minimum age limit I hope you'll be happy to read it... if not,
you can skip straight to the bottom line.
This is why ....
It's perfectly understandable, as young children are often mesmerized
by circus, and it's undoubtedly the case that the earlier you start
teaching people how to perform circus skills, the easier they will
find learning a lot of sport and other balance and coordination
based tasks later in life.
So it's good to start young .... but ....
....put simply, very young children may find it more difficult
than older ones, as they may have an initial lower level of coordination.
We don't see this a problem, as one of the reasons for learning
circus skills is that it improves coordination, but ...
...very young children also tend to have a much shorter attention
span than older children. Again, this needn't be a problem, as learning
circus skills will improve attention span.
So what's the Problem?
Learning circus skills is a huge amount of fun because people are
learning to do things they previously considered impossible. At
the very least, you're pushing the boundaries of what you yourself
are capable of.
If a child faces what they see as insurmountable difficulties,
the combination of an initial lower level of ability, and a shorter
attention span, can make playing with something like this seem more
like hard work than fun.
As teachers, we try to instill enthusiasm, to get children over
those hurdles and get them into the realms where this is
a lot of fun by continually setting objectives that are
just a fraction out of reach so there's always something to aim
for. Over the longer term we try to get them setting their own goals
If the guy who's here to help you is busy explaining something
to someone else for two minutes (can you remember how long two minutes
was when you were five), or you're having a slightly different problem
at the moment to the one he's currently explaining to everyone else
about, or there's something interesting out of the window, or what's
that over there, I wonder if there will be ice cream later, why
am I holding this ball ... I think it will be funny if I throw it
at Samantha ....
This scenario is different for different children, so we try not
to make too many assumptions or set hard and fast rules.
So How do we Save Samantha?
A perfect learning experience involves finding the specific
issues an individual is having problems with, and helping them to
overcome those in a fun and easy way. If we do it perfectly,
they're so busy having fun, they don't even realise it might have
At the point where the child experiences difficulties, the perfect
learning experience requires one to one tuition. Or at least, 'one
to not that many tuition'.
When learning in larger groups we each progress at different speeds
to each other, and experience different problems, or simply experience
problems at different times.
This means that when teaching, we must strike a balance, between
teaching a group as a whole, and finding time to focus on individuals.
Every time we're focusing on one individual, we're not focusing
on all the others, and younger children tend to have shorter attention
spans which means they can get bored if we're not directing our
attention at them..... which is where we came in to this story....
This is where you come in
If you're the kind of parent, teacher, or group, who is happy to
get involved, have fun, and join in with what were doing, rather
than just watching from the sidelines, this creates an additional
focus for the children. So jump in - have a go.
If you've got a few children who aren't up to learning some of
these things, you can just play catch with them for a while to get
them used to the really basics. Alternatively, if they're having
trouble learning diabolo, you can try and learn it with them. They
might even get it quicker than you do, but the fact that you try
can be enough to enthuse them to keep trying.
As much as children love doing these things, they also love watching
their parents and other adults they know learning to do these things.
If parents or teachers or other adults are joining in, then we can
work with slightly younger children, because you help to keep everything
running smoothly, and that means we can make more time to focus
on the group as individuals.
If you have a higher budget, you can also do things like hiring
bouncy castles or other attractions so that children (and adults)
can come and go between the two as they please, or we can provide
more workshop (playshop) leaders, but either way, we think it's
more fun if you join in.
The Bottom Line Being...
To keep it simple, there's a reason we have a minimum
age limit, but we're happy to break our own rules, as long as
you have reasonable expectations, and are willing to muck in and