Special Needs

5 Signs a Camp Really “Gets” Kids with Disabilities

Going to summer camp is a childhood experience no one should miss. Here, an expert in kids with special needs shares 5 ways to tell if camp staffers have the heart (and training) to embrace a child with disabilities.

By Katherine Teel

Summer camp is an unforgettable rite of passage for kids — but for some kids, it’s not as easy as packing a bathing suit and sleeping bag. Kids with disabilities want to do the things other kids do, including participating in camp activities, forming lasting friendships, and staying overnight in a cabin or tent. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all camps are now legally required to make reasonable accommodations that allow kids with special needs to attend. But having a wheelchair ramp doesn’t necessarily mean that a particular camp has ramped up its education and staffing to truly provide for and support children with disabilities.  

Here are some of the things parents should look for when considering a camp for their kids with special needs.

1. The Camp Uses People-First Language

People-first language means that a child is referred to as “a child with autism” or “a child with an intellectual disability,” and not “an autistic child” or “a retarded child.” (This is also important language to look for if you have a child with diabetes or a child with a peanut allergy!) There are two reasons this matters. First, this phrasing puts the emphasis on the whole personhood of the child, without identifying him primarily as someone with a disability; the disability is only a secondary characteristic. Second, people-first language is the accepted contemporary practice among educators and other people who work with children with disabilities, and if your camp isn’t familiar with this practice, chances are it isn’t familiar with other current practices either. Luckily, this is an easy aspect to investigate; you can look at the language used on the camp’s website!

2.The Camp Understands Your Child’s Specific Disability

Florida Special Touch Get Away - Lake Wales, FL
Florida Special Touch Get Away – Lake Wales, FL

There are countless kinds of disabilities a child may have, so it’s important that the camp you choose is prepared to serve your child’s needs, including those related to her specific disability. A camp for kids who have ADHD may not be well-equipped to work with children who also have a physical disability. If you decide to send your child to a mainstream — or inclusionary — camp, make sure that the staff knows your child’s needs and is able to and prepared to accommodate them.

3. The Camp Has Medical Staff On Site

Any mainstream camp should have — at minimum — a staff nurse and counselors trained in first aid. But many disabilities carry their own set of unique medical challenges, so you’ll want to make sure any camp you consider includes medical staff who are present at all times, trained in the specific needs of your child, and prepared to address not just an emergency, but an emergency that your child might encounter in relation to his or her disability. Also make sure that there’s a hospital within easy driving distance in the unlikely event your child needs urgent care.

4. The Camp Shares Your Goals

Many camps for kids with (and without) disabilities include goals such as increasing independence, developing leadership skills, trying new activities, developing social skills, and raising self-esteem. Most of them also want to provide a safe place for kids to be without their parents for the first time. Make sure your goals for your child and the camp’s goals for its campers are compatible.

5. The Cost Fits Your Budget

Camp Easter Seals UCP Virginia - New Castle, VA
Camp Easter Seals UCP Virginia – New Castle, VA

Residential camps, especially those with trained staff and specialized equipment, can get pricey. If you can’t afford an overnight camp, your child might enjoy a day camp or a shorter-term overnight camp — for example, a weekend getaway instead of a week-long program. It’s also possible that financial aid and scholarships may be available from either the camp itself or from charitable organizations. Ask the camp director for tips on applying for aid. Before making the down payment, make sure the outlay won’t stress you financially — that’s not helpful to you or your child. When you do find the right camp, the benefits to your child can be extraordinary — and well worth the investment.

Look for Local Camps for Kids with Disabilities

Visit to discover local camps that provide a variety of services and programs for kids with physical disabilities, autism, or other special needs. Start your online search — and get ready to add “expert summer camper” to your child’s list of accomplishments!

Additional Online Resources


Bass Guitar Drums Guitar Music Theory Percussion Piano Rock Voice

Rock Music Lessons: Surprising Ways They Pay Off

Believe it or not, rock music lessons offer some perks you might not find with other instruments. And kids who participate can do more than rattle your windows. Here, some experts share a few surprising reasons why it’s good for kids to rock out.

By Kathy Teel and Heather Shade

Why Rock Music Lessons Are Great for Kids

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when parents hear the words “rock band”? Most likely, lots of noise coming from your garage on the weekends. You might wonder, “Wouldn’t it be better for my child to focus on something that has a little more grace than the electric guitar or a drum set? Violin, perhaps?” It would certainly be more peaceful.

But what works for one kid doesn’t always work for another. While one may lean more toward a cello or piano, another may prefer the sounds that come from a bass guitar.

And here’s the good news: The experts we interviewed for this article say that’s okay! It may come as a shock to a lot of parents, but there are many similarities between the benefits of learning to play rock music and learning to play classical music. And there’s at least one surprising perk that you may not have previously imagined.

Compare Music Class Options Near You Now >>

From practical, everyday skills….

Cheri Norton is general manager of Hoover Music Company in Springfield, Missouri, which provides music lessons for many different instruments and styles of music, from electric guitar and drum kit to strings and brass. “Rock lessons,” she says, “like other music lessons, help develop skills of responsibility, commitment, critical thinking, and more.”

As with any other type of music lessons, what your child gets out of the activity depends largely upon what’s required of them — and what their teacher brings to the table. “It completely depends on the content of the lessons, the instructor, and the amount of practice a student puts in throughout the week outside of the lesson,” says Norton. That’s why, when interviewing different music instructors for your child, it’s important to find out their policies on practice, the types of skills they highlight, and what their goals are for the students they teach.This is true whether you decide to enroll your child in private lessons on the bass guitar or the piccolo.

Mike Winchel, guitarist since 2012 for the hard rock/heavy metal band Last Contact, agrees. Winchel has been playing the guitar for the last 16 years. One of the first things kids learn in rock music lessons, says Winchel: There are no shortcuts to success. “A lot of kids want to learn how to play their favorite songs before learning the basics,” he says. Music instructors, however, know that’s not the road to success in any type of music. “So you have to learn patience.”

“Laying a musical foundation is hard work, and it takes practice,” Norton adds. “There is no fast track to rocking out on the guitar and being successful in music. Although playing music is absolutely fun, the fun is a reward for all of the work.”


To previously unappreciated musical territories…

Winchel also brings up a point that many parents may not have considered: By taking rock-style lessons, kids can begin to explore previously unappreciated musical territories.

“Rock bands of every genre have their roots in blues and jazz, which are rooted in both folk and classical music,” he says. “The more kids learn about playing rock music, they more they learn about other styles. Then they end up expanding their taste and appreciation, as well as their skills.”

In fact, kids who would normally be resistant to listening to or learning about other types of music may find that rock music lessons open the door to a love of different styles later in life. What’s more, adds Winchel, learning classical instrumentation, country chords, blues scales, jazz drums, bass funk, etc., “will only make rock music easier to learn. So your budding musician will be proficient not only in rock ’n’ roll, but in other genres as well.”

Learning to play rock music can also open doors to many other activities, besides being in a rock band, Winchel says. “If you can play guitar, you can translate those skills to orchestra,” he explains. Likewise, kids who learn drum set can find a role on the bass drum, timpani, snare, or drum set in a concert band, jazz band, or marching band. “And kids can use the dedication, practice, and patience in every aspect of their adult life,” Winchel says “Being able to struggle, learn, grow, and still express what’s inside you is what being in a rock band is about.”

But in the end, it’s all about the music.

While there may be distinct differences between the rock-band world of wailing guitar riffs and the orchestra world of soaring violin solos, it’s safe to say that both require discipline — a skill that offers lifelong benefits to every child.

As parents, one of the most important things we teach our children is about the rewards of persistence. “With consistency and hard work,” Norton says encouragingly, “their dreams can become more than just dreams. They can be reality.”

Enroll Your Child in Music Lessons: It’s as Easy as One, Two, Three …

Ready to turn the garage (or basement) into your kids’ all-new rock band practice room? First, find local schedules for music lessons for your child by visiting ActivityHero.

Acting Drama/Theater Performing Arts

Why Kids Love and Hate Theatre Camps

What makes theatre camps, acting camps, and performing arts camps applauded in some cities — and scoffed in others? Our author explores what happened in two nearby towns, and what theatre programs can learn from the kids’ reactions.

By Katherine Teel

For as long as anyone can remember, Mt. Vernon Community Theatre (MVCT) in Mount Vernon, Mo., has always done a summer musical. What’s more, they took great care to choose shows that could make use of a large cast of local young people  —  especially teenagers. Since Mt. Vernon is nearly an hour from any other theatre program, the teens looked forward to the summer musical all year. However, recently MVCT’s contract for its theatre space came into question, and it looked like the summer musical might not happen.

MVCT’s board of directors knew that many local teens were looking forward to being in the show; if the show wasn’t going to happen, MVCT wanted to do something else for the kids. “What about a theatre camp?” they wondered. Other acting programs for kids offered a week’s worth of lessons and rehearsals that culminated in a show for parents at the end of the week. Could they do something like that?

Why Some Kids Hate the Idea of Theatre Camp

To the board’s surprise, the teen response to this proposal was lukewarm at best.

“I guess I’d go,” said high-school junior Whitney VanderGrift. “I mean, all my friends are in theatre. I wouldn’t want to be the only one not involved.”

Other students were more outspoken  —  and negative. “No way,” said senior Sabra Teel. “I’m finally out of school, I don’t want to take any more classes. I just want to do shows. I just want to be onstage with my friends. I know where to go if I want to take classes. I don’t want to spend my summer doing that.”

Needless to say, the MVCT board scrapped the idea of doing summer theatre camps for teens. But it was puzzling  —  in the closest city of Springfield, Mo., about 45 minutes away, the community theatre held multiple sessions of theatre camps each summer, serving all age groups and skill sets. Media coverage of those programs quote students who are thrilled to be there, and wouldn’t spend their summers any other way. The question is, “Why?”


Why Other Kids Love the Theatre Camp Experience

“I go three or four times,” sophomore Wesley Andrews said about theatre camps in Springfield. “There’s just so much to learn, and the directors really make it a great time. Our group is like a family.”

Sophomore Jessica Barlow agreed. “Every time I go to theatre camp, I learn more techniques and skills that I can use in my auditions. I don’t think I’d have gotten any parts without all these classes and camp sessions.”

Even when presented with these perks, the MVCT performers aren’t impressed  —  and they aren’t convinced that summer theatre camps offer any benefit. “People in these camps think you have to do them to succeed in theatre, and they don’t really believe that anyone from a small town can be as good as they are anyway,” asserted Elise Jarvis, a singer/actor who has held significant roles in several local productions. “But we’re here putting on shows that are every bit as good as theirs. That’s how you really learn.”

Learning What Needs to be Learned

Today, the MVCT board members can see both sides of  this issue. “We all have a lot to learn,” says MVCT vice-president David Kloppenborg. “Nobody should think that they already know everything  —  especially teens. But teens are very involved in our program, so we teach what they need to know as we rehearse a show. And we have some teens who are extremely good already.”

Obviously there are pros and cons to summer camps, and some kids will get more out of them than others. If you’re looking for summer theatre camps because your child is interested in performing, make sure your child sees theatre camp as an opportunity to develop his or her talent  —  not as just more classes in a life already full of classes. Anyone can get something from a theatre camp, but the camper’s attitude going in can make all the difference. can help you “audition” the local theatre camps, theatre classes, and other acting and performing arts experiences in your area. For a list of 20 questions to ask when seeking the best theatre camp or theatre program for your child, read “Looking for the Right Theatre Classes for Your Child? Read This Before You Act!”

Special Needs

Kids With Disabilities – 10 Things That Might Surprise You About Them

Many of us are in the dark about what to say to a parent whose child has disabilities. We don’t know what’s okay (or offensive) language. We aren’t sure when (or whether) we should ask questions. We want to be sensitive — but worry we making unintended blunders. Here, our author — an educator who has worked with children with special needs for 5 years — offers 10 things that might surprise you about kids with disabilities.

By Katherine Teel

If you are a parent whose child has special needs, there are things you wish you could tell everyone. For instance, you might want them to know that — despite some unique challenges — you have as many reasons to be proud of your child as other parents have to be proud of theirs. Or you might wish to explain that it’s more thoughtful to say “a child with autism” than “an autistic child,” because the former wording puts the child’s personhood before her disability. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for parents to share their insights about children with disabilities, particularly the issues that tug at the heartstrings or make the blood boil. So here are a few key points about kids with disabilities that their parents probably wish you knew.

1. It’s okay not to like a kid with a disability.

People are people. Some we click with and some we don’t. As parents, we get frustrated when people focus their dislike on the disability itself. We hope everyone will like our child, but the truth is — regardless of ability status — we all get along with some people better than others. Kids with disabilities want a fair chance, but they don’t expect everyone in the world to love them.

2. They don’t want to be your inspiration.

Up to a certain age, kids thrive on positive attention. Once they hit middle school, it can be trickier, because even positive attention singles them out, and they don’t want that. The absolute worst thing, though, is to single them out because of their disability. Even apparently positive comments like, “You really inspire me,” put kids in an awkward position. They are just doing the best they can with what they have, just like everyone else, and they would prefer to be treated that way.

3. “Disability” could mean almost anything.

In the state where I teach, there are 16 separate categories of disabilities, including one called “Other Health Impairment,” which includes disabilities that can’t be categorized elsewhere. If you hear that a child has a disability, wait to learn more before you make any judgments about how it affects their everyday life.

4. Some disabilities are invisible.

Some disabilities, such as Down Syndrome, hyperactive-type AD/HD, or some types of visual impairment, have obvious observable characteristics, but many don’t. Some disabilities and disorders have subtle signs that are difficult to diagnose and treat. It may be difficult to provide appropriate services for these types of special needs, but they still cause kids to struggle. You might know a child with a disability and never realize it.

5. There are actually more females than males with disabilities.

When most people think of children with disabilities, especially behavioral disabilities, they often think of badly behaved boys. But among all people with disabilities, there are more women with disabilities than men. This doesn’t mean that girls with disabilities are identified in schools as often, though. Disability in girls, like heart disease in women, doesn’t look like the “norm,” and so it often gets overlooked.


6. Sometimes disabilities are hidden — on purpose..

Parents live in fear that their child will be more limited by the system than they are by their disability. Every parent of a child with a disability has a story of getting different treatment once their child’s diagnosis was made known. So sometimes parents neglect to mention a disability if possible, so that others can get to know our kids on their own terms. And kids, because they want to fit in, will often do the same thing.

7. You can ask — but not in front of people.

Kids don’t want to seem different from their peers. If you have a question about their disability, or if you want to know the best way to handle something, ask them, but wait until you have a private moment. Don’t put them on the spot in front of everyone. When you have a moment alone, use common courtesy: “If I see you struggling with something, would you like me to help you, or should I wait for you to do it yourself?”

8. They know how to work the system.

Everyday things can be hard for kids with disabilities, and so they learn how to get out of them. They learn just how to behave to get sent to the hall instead of having to do math with the rest of the class. They learn just what kinds of grades will qualify them for SSI disability payments. They may have diagnoses of intellectual disability, learning disability, or physical handicap, but certain behaviors have been rewarded throughout their lives, and they’ve learned them well.

9. It’s always an issue.

People with disabilities know that no matter how open-minded someone is, or how used they are to interacting with people with disabilities, those with disabilities know that people see the disability first. It’s very hard for anyone to meet a person first, and then deal with the fact of the disability. Those with disabilities know this, and they feel it. They usually learn to live with it, but it’s important to know that — in terms of how they are treated — their disability is always an issue.

10. It’s important to look beyond the label.

Kids with disabilities are people like anyone else. You might know a child with autism, but that simply describes a set of symptoms and patterns. It does not tell you what that child likes, what he’s capable of, or what you can learn from him.

Find camps and classes for kids with disabilities in your area.

On, it’s quick and easy to find local programs that provide a variety of options for kids with physical disabilities, children with autism, and kids with a variety of other special needs. Many programs also are also inclusionary or mainstream, bringing together children with disabilities and children who don’t have special needs. Click here to find current programming in your area.

Additional Informational Resources

Performing Arts

Looking for the Right Acting Classes for Your Child? Read This Before You Act!

Some activities in life are easier if you have a script. That’s why veteran “drama mama” Katherine Teel is sharing her list of 20 questions to ask directors of acting, theatre, and performing arts camps, classes, and programs.

By Katherine Teel

Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, review them with your kids, and ask for their thoughts. If, for instance, your middle schooler doesn’t feel comfortable working with kids who are driving and dating, maybe acting classes in the 12 to 17 age range aren’t the best fit for her. In parenting as in acting, trust your instincts, and make choices that make the most sense for your character!

1. Is the program open to anyone or is prior experience needed? If experience is needed, how much experience and where? Are different levels of experience accommodated — such as beginner and advanced?

2. Is there a targeted age group for the program? Is it designed for young children? Teenagers? Adults? Senior citizens? If different groups are included in one session, how are they divvied up? Are high school kids mixed in with middle schoolers — or elementary school kids with older children or preschoolers?

3. Is the goal to “have fun” or to learn the craft? (Either approach is fine, depending on what you want, but it’s important to enroll in one that best serves your child’s goals.)

4. What is the enrollment process? Do kids have to audition, or are slots filled on a “first-come/first served” basis? How quickly does the program fill up? Or, more accurately, when do I need to think about enrolling if I want a spot? Is there a waiting list for applicants who didn’t register in time?

5. If you’re looking at a camp, is it a day camp or an overnight program? If it’s an overnight camp, where are the accommodations? Are commuters welcomed if your kids aren’t fans of sleepovers?

6. If you’re looking at classes, are they several hours, half-day, or full-day courses? Do they meet every day for a week or two? Or do they meet once a week? Is attendance at all sessions mandatory in order for your child to participate in the end-of-session showcase or performance, if there is one?

7. What is the focus of the curriculum? Does it include, for instance, drama, musical theatre, choral work, movement/dance, and acting theory — or just one or two of these elements? Is each focus taught over several sessions or does each session have a different focus? How long is each session?

8. What are the topics being taught? Are they general topics like commedia dell’arte, Broadway-style auditions, Japanese puppet theatre, and improvisation? Or does the program focus on honing crucial acting skills, like building a character, playing objectives, and expressing interior emotions?

9. Can you sign up for just one session, or as many as you want? (This will depend in part on how long the sessions are, how many kids are vying to get into each session, and how many staffers are available for each session.)

10. What are the credentials of the faculty members and staff?? Are they working professionals in the industry, cush as actors, directors, teaching artists, musicians, dancers, or designers? If so, what kind of experience do they have and for how long have they been in the business? What is their most recent work and where was it done? Do they have additional credentials as educators?

acting-teacher11. What is the teacher-to-student ratio? Do students receive one-on-one instruction? Is that important to you?

12. Who typically attends the program? Are students mostly local, or are they drawn nationally or internationally? Connections can be made at camps and classes — where does your camper want to build connections, socially or professionally?

13. Who is sponsoring the program? Is it a local performing arts group, a university or performing arts school, a church, or a private individual?

14. Does the program — or the faculty — have any famous or locally known alumni? Have they endorsed the program? Do they come back to teach sessions or portions of sessions — or to scout new talent?

15. Is a particular method of acting being taught? Are the purveyors of the method also the people sponsoring the camp? (Different actors and directors subscribe to different types of acting theory and methodology. If you’re not familiar with them, ask your child’s music teacher/director, acting teacher, or director for guidance.)  

16. If your child has disabilities, can they be accommodated?? Inclusive camps are required by the ADA to make reasonable accommodations for people with any disability or need. (Check out 5 Signs a Camp Really ‘Gets’ a Kid with Disabilities for more ideas on what to look for.)

17. Is financial aid offered? Are there scholarships? Does the program accept a payment plan or can they offer classes at a reduced fee, if financial need is established?

18. Will there be a final showcase? Do they work to produce a play, musical, concert, or recital?

19. Are there costume or clothing requirements? If so, are costumes provided? Or will kids create their own costumes or wear, say, all black or a camp T-shirt?Is the showcase a casual or a formal affair? Are family and friends allowed to attend, or is it only for camp participants? Where and when will it be held?

20. What happens after the program is over? Will instructors be willing to continue to have contact with students after the classes end? Are there other continuing education opportunities? Are former participants given priority enrollment for future sessions?

Look for acting, theatre, and performing arts programs in your area!

Performing arts programs help kids of all skill levels to have fun and develop their talents — as well as lifelong skills such as teamwork, resilience, and the ability to communicate clearly. Start your search here — and get ready to expand your child’s acting resume!

Drama/Theater Performing Arts

Looking for an “Act-ive” Activity for the Whole Family? The Stage Is Calling!

“Ya got trouble, with a capital T” when your family time feels scattered and you’re not connecting with your kids. Here’s how The Music Man helped this single mother strengthen family bonds — while doing something special for herself.

By Katherine Teel

For the past four years, two things have happened every summer. The Hazelton family takes a trip from Missouri to North Dakota, and they are involved in the summer musical in their Missouri hometown.

“Those two things,” says mom of three Laurie Hazelton, “really got us through some hard times. Our extended family is in North Dakota, and it’s important to me that the kids know where their roots are. But our theatre family…they were really there for us when we were going through some difficult things.”

Making an Entrance into Musical Theatre

Four summers ago, the arts council of the Hazeltons’ small Missouri town decided to put on a musical — The Music Man. There had been a few plays done in town over the years, but nothing organized … and nothing this big.

“There must have been sixty people in the cast,” Laurie recalls. “High schoolers, older people, kids … I had no idea there were so many talented people in this little community.”

Laurie has always loved singing, and she wanted to try out for the show. The Hazelton kids — Maison, Hallee, and Ty — were 11, 8, and 6 at the time, and since the kids’ dad lived in another town, Laurie realized that either all of them participated in the show, or none of them could.

“The younger ones just wanted to stay with me, so they were no problem,” Laurie says. “But Maison was having none of it. I tried everything I could think of to get him to agree to be in the show, but he absolutely refused to get up on stage.”

Fortunately, Laurie knew that what happens onstage is only a part of the whole theatre experience. Maison was quickly tapped to serve on stage crew, and he spent the summer lifting set pieces, flats, and furniture — all in the pitch blackness of a dark stage between scenes. It was backstage that Maison found his niche; he has served on the stage crew every summer since, and even trained with the stage manager in the most recent production.


The Extended Family of Musical Theatre

“That summer, we needed the theatre,” Laurie remembers. “We needed warm, caring people to be around. We needed something important to do that would take our minds off our difficulties. We needed tasks that would let us spend time together as a family, and that would bring the kids positive attention and affirmation. Nothing can do that like working on a show together. Your family becomes part of the larger family of the show.”

After that summer, several cast members formed a new theatre group that has carried on the tradition of the summer musical. Laurie was elected to its board of directors, and every summer since, the Hazelton family can be found in the city’s theater facility — acting, singing, dancing, and moving sets.

Building Character and Family Bonds — on Stage and Off

The Hazeltons aren’t the only ones who find value in the theatre as a family activity. At least a half a dozen entire families are involved in the summer musical, and a dozen more parent-child or sibling-sibling combinations. Some are even multi-generational — Laurie’s mother, Polly, has been on stage, and often works on the costume crew, and her father, Bill, puts in hours building the sets and dismantling them again when the show is over.

“It’s a really great way for families to spend time together,” Laurie says. “Parents can be with other adults while still keeping close to their kids, and kids learn skills that can’t be taught any other way. In our first show, my two youngest were so shy they’d hide behind people on stage, and now they have lead roles and singing solos. And Maison has gone from doing crew work to being Assistant Stage Manager — the kind of responsibility he’d never get in school. They’ve really learned to believe in themselves.”


Ready to Take Your Family to the Theatre?

Community theatres exist all over the United States, and they are constantly looking for people with every imaginable skill set. They need help creating tickets and programs, sewing costumes, building sets, finding props, raising funds, and much more. Whether you and your children shine onstage or excel backstage, you can find an important role in a theatre community.

Visit  your local theatre to learn more, or find a nearby theatre group on the website for the American Association of Community Theatre.

Get your kids in performing arts! Set the stage with local theatre classes, acting classes, and performing arts classes in your area.

If your kids would like a little more experience before looking into community theatre, consider signing them up for local theatre classes, acting classes, and performing arts classes. Many programs welcome adult assistance with set construction, costuming, and pre-show planning. Some even offer family workshops that involve the adults as part of the curriculum.

After-School Activities Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

Acting Classes For Kids: What You Need To Know

Acting Classes For Kids

Many young people graduate high school with a passionate relief that they will never again have to participate in a pageant, exhibit, or production. But a few kids discover that standing in front of an adoring crowd belting out a solo or delivering a monologue is sheer heaven. They can’t get enough, and these are just the kids who could benefit from acting classes.

But if you’re not experienced in the theatre, it might not be easy to find acting lessons that fit your child, are good quality, and won’t cost an arm and a leg. The following suggestions might give you a few ideas about where to begin in your search for acting classes for kids.


Local Community Theatre

Most communities have some kind of theatre organization that performs plays for local audiences. If there’s not one in your town, chances are that there’s one in a town within driving distance; try calling the Chamber of Commerce or the local arts council. You can also begin a search for community theatres by contacting The American Association of Community Theatres.

Many community theatres offer classes, workshops, and seminars for adults and youth. It’s to their benefit to do so—it builds good community feeling, it helps train the next generation of performers and crew, and it makes them eligible for grant money. And if they know there is interest in classes, they will go the extra mile to provide them.


Everyone thinks of the YMCA as a place that provides family-friendly fitness and athletics, but they also frequently provide classes in the arts, including visual arts, dance, singing and acting. In fact, if you live in the Manhattan area, the YMCA is one of the most important providers of performing arts education. Not every YMCA has the size or the resources of the ones in New York City, of course, but in many places qualified members of the community offer acting lessons to young people interested in performing. And the YMCA is found almost everywhere, so if one facility doesn’t have the acting lessons your child is looking for, another one might. You can check here to find a YMCA that offers acting classes.

Local Schools

Even in this era of slashed budgets, every school has something in the way of a drama presence. It could be a multi-staffed department with state of the art facilities, or it could be a single overworked English teacher putting on Our Town for the tenth time in the school gym, but plays and introductory acting classes are being taught.  It’s very likely that your high schools drama or English teacher can give your child acting lessons. But even if he or she can’t do it themselves, teachers network with each other, and your drama teacher definitely knows another teacher who can give lessons to your child.

Another option is to contact a local college theatre department and hire a college or graduate student to give your child acting lessons. If your child is new at acting, this might be a very good option; acting lessons won’t be expensive, and your child’s acting teacher will be passing on techniques she’s learning from professors with MFAs.


Whatever path you take to finding an acting coach or acting instructor for your child, the most important thing you can do for them is to encourage them to audition for a variety of roles. Instruction in acting technique is important, but nothing can replace the learning that goes on backstage and onstage, between performers of every level of experience. Every actor brings with him or her every director and cast-mate they have ever worked with—and if your child’s in a show, your child benefits from all that experience. And let’s face it, when someone is learning the performing arts, they really should be performing!

It’s not easy being a stage-mom or stage-dad to a budding actor. Rehearsals are four, sometimes five, nights a week, including some late nights the closer to performance you get. But if your son or daughter has been bitten by the acting bug, getting them up on stage as often as possible might be the only cure!

Check out these schools and camps that offer acting lessons for kids!

Kids on Camera TV/Film Acting School – San Francisco, CA