How to help your child practise speech and drama

It’s vital that students continually practise their poems and pieces at home in order to keep their skills fresh, ensure development, and get the most out of their weekly class. Many students have a number of extra-curricular commitments and express their struggle to find time to practise speech and drama at home. Viva Voice teachers Isabel Dickson and Kelly Banek introduce a number of effective and efficient ways in which you can help your child practise at home – both with you and independently! 

We love hearing what rehearsal tactics our students employ between classes. A common example is practising in the car on the way to school. If your child practises for 15 minutes on the way to school, that’s over an hour of rehearsal a week!

Another benefit of practising in the car is getting them warmed up for communication at school that day. They’ll have more confidence and clarity speaking up in class, having conversations with peers and teachers, and in presentations.

Siblings have told us they take it in turns to practise in the car, prompting lines when needed and offering suggestions.

In the Viva Voice Vlog series, “Five minutes with Viva student…” , student and actor Toby shares how he likes to walk in a circle around his living room when he learns lines. Many actors like to get up on their feet when running lines. This helps them get into their body and out of their head. After all, when performing both your body and voice need to be engaged in order to reach full expression and reduce the risk of straining your voice.

Viva Voice teacher, Kelly Banek, suggests that to help your child practise you can introduce a regular home routine to make it a habit. Your child can:

  • Do 15 minutes of speech practice just before shower time or straight after finishing school homework
  • Set a timer for ten minutes (quite often once they start they’ll want to keep going!)
  • Keep their speech folder out on a stand, near their instrument stand or in your lounge room; somewhere that they walk past often – this allows for them to quickly grab their folder, say a poem and keep going at anytime

How can you help your child when they struggle to learn lines?

If your child struggles to remember lines, they can spend five minutes before bed and upon waking reading through their piece – the lines will sink in over night!

It’s also vital that your child understands the definition of every word in their text and the meaning behind what they’re saying.

This is a big aspect of the work we do in class. Understanding the meaning of the words allows them to communicate freely, employ appropriate expression and aids memorisation. Try figuring out the meaning together – you don’t have to know all the answers and neither do they.

Another way you can help your child practise, if your child struggles to memorise a piece of text by themselves, is asking them to read a line four times, then move on to the next line. After memorising a few lines say them all together.

The amount of practise required depends on the needs, goals and performance commitments of each individual. We recommend practising for at least 15 minutes, two or three times a week. More practise time is required in preparation for eisteddfods, studio showcase and exams.

Here are some tips on how to help your child practise at home together:

1. Warm up with Tongue Twisters
Tongue Twisters are a fun and energetic way to warm up and practise articulation. If you’re stuck for ideas ask your child what tongue twisters they learned in class that week, or try these:

  • Twist the twine tightly round the tree trunks
  • Did Dora dare to deceive David deliberately
  • Little Larry Lester lolled lazily in the Li-lo

Read through each Twister three times, trying to keep the speech clear. If you’re having a grand time twisting your tongue, you can also head over to our Instagram for some more suggestions.

2. Review any work received in class that week
Not unlike schoolwork, it’s necessary that your child regularly revisits what they’ve worked on in class to keep it fresh in their memory. If they received a worksheet on eye contact for example, encourage them to employ eye contact when rehearsing this week.

3. Do the exercises with them
You’ll have a blast with this one! Voice and Acting™ students usually receive a handout with a few activities they can practise, or you can ask their teacher for some specific exercises you can try together at home. It will help them have someone to bounce ideas off, see how they can differ their expression, and make it all the more fun.

4. Read through any new pieces out loud
When your child receives a new piece (always an exciting time!) encourage them to read it aloud to you once or twice a week. Observe any markings on the text, then practise with eye contact and expression. As they begin to memorise you can take the text and prompt them when needed.

Try not to encourage a strict way in which they should present their piece. It’s important they find their own way of exploring the piece using their own expression.

It’s easier to play with expression and perform the piece to their full potential once it has been memorised.

Regular practise will help your child feel prepared and lessen their nerves. It’s never beneficial to learn pieces a few days before performance, and students will not experience the satisfaction that results from performing to their potential.

If you have other suggestions on helping your child practise, let us know on the Viva Voice Facebook and Instagram!