It’s the time of year when children start to come home from school waving little slips of paper and announcing that they need to know a series of weird and wonderful lines in time for the following week. It’s not just kids that have that sinking feeling when presented with things that must be committed to memory but parents too! Suddenly Mum and Dad have the responsibility to make sure their little one know all of their lines, it’s a lot of pressure- no one wants to feel they’ve let their child down if they don’t know what they’re meant to say.
Learning lines can be a long and laborious task of repeating the same things over and over again, but it doesn’t need to be- there are lots of tricks to turn this boring task into a fun one:
1: Learning lines on your own is virtually impossible, especially if your line follows on from someone else’s. Don’t just sit and read the lines- get everyone up on their feet, acting out the movements the children have to do in the play. This will really help the lines to sink in and remain in the brain!
2. When learning the lines practise different ways of saying them; the more you giggle over the lines together the more they will stick in children’s memories. Try to both recite the lines as cowboys or French waiters or sing them like you’re opera singers or speak them like you’re the King and Queen having afternoon tea. The list is endless!
3. Under- reading: This is a technique which is often used by actors and is particularly good for people who learn by hearing things. If you read the lines, get your child to repeat them one or two words later, for example ‘the cat sat on the mat’ once you have got to ‘cat’ get your child to start with ‘the.’ It’s not an easy one to explain, but really works wonders!
4. Place post it notes with the lines on all over the house so that your child can read them as they’re brushing their teeth or eating breakfast!
5. Record the lines onto a phone, Dictaphone or if you’re really old school a cassette tape and play these as your child goes to sleep- or even better 10 to 15 minutes after they go to sleep. The mind is still active while sleeping and soaks up all sorts of information that is heard, and enters the subconscious! Also known as the cheat technique.
6. The prompt treasure hunt: For children who are kinaesthetic learners or remember things by moving around (basically anyone that can’t sit still). Get them to walk through the lines, place a prompt word written on a post it note on different areas of the room for example ‘cat’ on the coffee table and ‘rabbit’ on the TV. The children then have to start at their first prompt word (‘cat’) and then recite the line, when they’ve said that one move to the next one and so on, until all of the lines have been remembered and they’ve walked all over the house! Once they’ve cracked it with the prompts for their own lines, do the same thing but replace the prompts with the line that comes before their own.
Other things to remember:
• Even narrators who don’t need to know their lines off by heart need to be really confident in reading them, the more familiar they are with the lines the more prepared children will feel to go out there and give it their all (also think how impressed all the other parents will be if your child knows their narrator part off by heart!!)
• Try and make sure the children learn to speak their lines at a good pace so that they’re not rushing through them just to try and prove they know them. The first thing we do when we’re nervous is speed up, so the slower pace the lines are learnt, the better!
• Make sure that the children really know their cue lines or where their line comes in. It would be silly to spend so much time learning the lines to not know when to say them!
Practice really does make perfect and all that hard work will really pay off!
One thing is guaranteed, when it comes to that play and you’re sat there with all of the other parents, you’ll be saying the lines along with your little one! Make sure you take plenty of tissues, the video camera and be prepared to be the proudest parents around!