See Newsies, Get Good Grades! – How the arts influence our children

Triumphant! Getting autographs from the cast of Newsies
Triumphant! Getting autographs from the cast of Newsies

I took my daughter Emma to see the Broadway musical, Newsies last year and she absolutely loved it! She was singing and dancing for weeks. There is something powerful about being in the theater and attending a live performance that trumps everything else. The singing, the dancing, the emotions of seeing it all unfold for you on stage is uplifting. And then afterward, many of the cast came outside the theater to sign autographs and pose for pictures with their fans. Watching Emma’s eyes light up as each one came up and signed her program was worth every penny. One of the cast even paid special attention to her and just made her beam. “Daddy,” she said to me, “he said I could be a newsie!” It’s those moments that make a dad’s day.

Getting special attention from the cast
Getting special attention from the cast

Sorting through the abundance of plays and musicals on and off Broadway is difficult, and finding family friendly options even harder! But this was a gem. The story followed closely to that of the movie but had some significant differences. Instead of taking away from the story, it enriched it and added a different twist to it than what you might have seen on the big screen. These differences made it new whether you’ve seen the movie or not.

The story in a nutshell is based on a real life event – the 1899 Newsboys Strike in New York City. It was a rallying cry for the necessity of child labor standards and brought light to a real problem that was happening in America. In the play, the action centers around a boy named Jack Kelly, the unofficial leader of the newsies as the newspaper boys call themselves. He ends up becoming the catalyst for the events which eventually bring triumph to the boys and the realization of a dream for Jack.

Having great models in the arts is inspirational for kids
Having great models in the arts is inspirational for kids

But there’s an even more powerful reason why as a parent I think it’s important to take my daughter to events like this, whether it’s in the theater, at a museum, or in an art studio. Exposing our children to the arts is an essential ingredient to their success in school and ultimately in life. The effects of arts education with children is well documented. Children who study art are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.[1] Children exposed to art develop motor skills, language development, decision-making, inventiveness, and cultural awareness just to name a few benefits.[2] A study by the Rand Corporation showed that art “can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing…”[3] Because of these benefits and because I believe being well-rounded will make my daughter more well-equipped to face life, I try to find ways to engage her in the arts in ways that she will enjoy and appreciate. And you can, too!

Whether it’s taking your child to a musical or to the museum or to an art studio, you are helping your child to develop critical life skills. Find what works best for your children and get them involved. Often times there are arts programs available at your local library, your local hardware store, and other venues so it doesn’t even have to cost very much. However, if you do want to take your child to see Newsies, look to see if it’s coming to a theater near you as the Broadway production is already on the road.[4] So whether you live in Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, or Pittsburgh (or 19 other cities) you can take your kids and enjoy this wonderful show and at the same time help them to build life skills they will carry with them throughout their life.

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[1] https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-arts-education

[2] http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-importance-of-art-in-child-development/

[3] http://www.edutopia.org/arts-music-curriculum-child-development

[4] http://www.playbill.com/news/article/184374-Disney-Musical-Newsies-Will-Launch-North-American-Tour-in-October-2014

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