Why performing arts for kids is more important than ever

Performing arts can help children with everything from socialising to language development to physical health – plus it’s fun. Here’s why activities like singing, dancing and acting are good for kids living overseas.

Why performing arts for kids is more important than ever
Performing arts classes, like dancing, can help international kids settle into life overseas. Photo: Stagecoach Performing Arts

For many parents, the past two years has meant juggling homeschooling with new work-from-home routines. Maybe you’ve also thrown life in a new country into the mix, and understandably parental guilt and worry goes through the roof. Will my kids make new friends? How quickly will they learn the language? 

The pandemic has also meant many children haven’t had access to after-school activities. No sport, music lessons, swim training or drama class – in addition to limited social activities and celebrations. We know, it’s been tough. 

As well as the worries over what children have missed out on, there is also concern around the impact on child development. Children depend on both school and extracurricular activities to build their social interaction skills. Research published in Child: Care, Health and Development in March this year shows that online or virtual interactions do not meet these same needs: “The use of virtual communication is convenient but does not replace face-to-face peer interactions.”

Help your child settle in to new life overseas with a performing arts class

The effects of the pandemic

It is unsurprising that the health of young people is negatively affected by the pandemic, with many struggling with feelings of isolation and anxiety. Now, they are having to adapt to social situations again and the negative impact has become even clearer. In January this year, the American Psychological Association announced that “mental illness and the demand for psychological services are at all-time highs – especially among children.”

However, embracing activities like music and art, which help kids to channel their emotions into something creative, are proving to be helpful for children around the world as they settle back into a new normal.

As we emerge from pandemic restrictions, companies like Stagecoach Performing Arts are reporting a rise in demand for their acting, singing and dancing classes. “We have seen a seven percent increase in student numbers since pre-Covid times,” says Andy Knights, CEO of Stagecoach Performing Arts

The company has an impressive 3,000-plus extra-curricular performing arts schools and classes operating in eight countries around the world: Canada, Spain, Malta, Gibraltar, Australia, Germany, UK, Lithuania. Stagecoach Performing Arts also offers exciting programs like Dance the Dream, which gives students the opportunity to dance in a parade at Disneyland Paris. 

“This is an amazing opportunity for [children] to perform in one of the most magical places in the world. Our aim is to provide our students with Creative Courage for Life – and Dance the Dream at Disneyland Paris does just that. It’s also wonderful that they can share the experience with their families,” says Stagecoach Bath Principal, Sandra Moyo.

Keen to run your own business while helping kids have fun and improve their life skills? Stagecoach is currently offering exciting franchise opportunities 

Performing arts classes have a range of benefits for young people. Photo: Stagecoach Performing Arts

Good for mind and body 

Performing arts education – typically classes like acting, dancing and singing – has a number of clear mental and physical benefits for children. A May 2021 paper published by Psychological Thought looked at the effect of performing arts during and post-pandemic. It found that participating in arts projects helps build self-esteem, autonomy, and senses of competence and belonging, all of which are needed to contribute to wellbeing. 

Stagecoach’s Educational Framework provides an opportunity for students to creatively express themselves, which is an important outlet for young people to understand and process their emotions, especially while their communication skills are still developing.

Of course, extracurricular activities like dance are great for kids’ physical fitness too, with plenty of energy burned off during performances and rehearsals. 

Learning life skills

The classes offered by award-winning companies like Stagecoach give children and young people valuable skills for life and assist with socialisation. Beyond taking to the stage to sing, dance and perform, students are learning how to collaborate, listen, take on board feedback and problem solve. 

This is even more relevant for international kids settling into a new country, who will benefit from new friendships, improving language skills, empathy, teamwork skills, and building confidence. 

Importantly, the Stagecoach ethos is to deliver Creative Courage for Life. It’s about teaching students to be confident enough to be themselves by using the skills developed through singing, acting and dance classes. 

Help settling in to a new life

Moving abroad can be a hard time for kids, and even more so in today’s rocky climate. 

After a couple of years of restrictions, people of all ages are keen to meet new friends and join in on new activities in an effort to fill the gap of what’s been missed. So now more than ever, extra-curricular activities like those offered in the performing arts, are important for children’s development.

“Stagecoach continues to grow and expand our network with the objective of teaching Creative Courage for Life to children and young people around the world. Through singing, dancing, and acting, our students develop the skills required to perform on the biggest stage of all – the stage of life,” says Andy Knights, CEO of Stagecoach Performing Arts.  

Particularly if you are new to a country, it can be challenging to find the right after-school classes and opportunities for your kids. Many countries, like Germany, are known to be inconsistent in terms of what is offered.

Signing up to after-school or holiday period classes and workshops in performing arts not only gives kids a chance to shine and develop, it can be a way for parents to feel part of a new community too. And Stagecoach, which has been teaching kids since 1988, has more than 300 franchisees around the world. So whether you want to do something to help your child settle in or if you’re looking for a business idea, this is your sign. 

Would you like to bring arts and theatre to your town? Find out more about running your own Stagecoach business

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8 essential apps for foreign residents living in Cologne

Whether you're on the lookout for local grocery delivery services or want to decode what words in 'Kölsch' really mean, these apps are must-haves for life in the Cathedral City.

8 essential apps for foreign residents living in Cologne

Germany-wide there are a slew of useful apps, whether you want to check if your long-distance train is actually running on time with the DB Navigator, or if that gorgeous sunny day is about to be interrupted with monsoon-like rain using AccuWeather

But there are also several apps especially useful for life in Cologne and its surroundings – especially for foreigners still getting to grips with local transport, shopping and language.

Here are our top recommendations for the Cathedral City, whether you’re visiting or sticking around for longer.

​​Taking care of all shopping at once with HomeRide

Are you in need of both a new duvet and bananas, but don’t have time to head to IKEA or the Supermarkt? Launched by two locals in March, the easy-to-navigate app works with local suppliers – both chains and small shops alike – to gather all the items you need together and bring them to your doorstep by the end of the day. 

Sightseeing with ‘Es war Einmal’…

Despite its German name, this recently launched tourism app is available in nine languages and offers a searchable A-Z guide of both big and small attractions from the Altmarkt to the Zoo. In addition to serving as a digital travel book, it includes a history section that covers the history of the city all the way back to Roman times.

Rays of sunlight penetrate the north tower at the Cologne Cathedral.

Rays of sunlight penetrate the north tower at the Cologne Cathedral. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg

Understanding the locals with Cologne online dictionary

If you’re also perplexed when you hear the words “Tütenüggel” or “Parapluie”, you can quickly put an end to your head scratching with the Kölsches Wörterbuch. The online dictionary is published by the SK Stiftung Kultur and, with a vocabulary of 25,000 registered terms, is the most comprehensive work of its kind. Words can be translated from high German into Kölsch, the local dialect (and coincidentally pretty tasty beer), and also vice versa.

READ ALSO: 10 words you’ll need to know at Cologne’s Carnival in 2023

Staying safe with the NINA app

Some dangerous situations, such as the spread of smoke or severe weather, are something you definitely want to know about – and preferably as quickly as possible. The NINA app provides users with up-to-the-minute alerts on whatever the situation is, from minor inconveniences to urgent matters. 

For example, if a World War II bomb is found in Cologne, you’ll know right away whether (and when) your neighbourhood is being evacuated, and if a heavy thunderstorm is coming, NINA will tell you that it’s better to stay at home.

Get around Cologne and beyond with the KVB-App 

Cologne’s local transport app provides up-to-date timetables – with a trip planning feature – as well as a ticket shop for buses and trains in the Cologne area and beyond. You’ll also be alerted about alternative routes in case of a delay – or has been the case lately – a strike.

Passengers leave the KVB subway at the main station in Cologne.

Passengers leave the KVB subway at the main station in Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Roberto Pfeil

E-Moped sharing with Rhingo

Car sharing, scooter sharing, bike sharing – there are countless transport-sharing options in and around Cologne. Since the end of 2021, it’s been possible to rent e-Mopeds from local energy supplier RheinEnergie via the Rhingo app.

For 23 cents per minute, customers can jet through Cologne on both an e-Moped or e-bike. At the moment, electric scooters are only available on the left side of the Rhine and in Deutz, but the coverage area is constantly being expanded.​​

Finding the best bike routes with Komoot

While the bike route app Radroutenplanner NRW has been around for over a decade for Germany’s most populous state, some users say it still misses useful cycling paths – probably in part because they’re always changing.

The user-updated app Komoot keeps riders up the date on the best paths for bikes, whether you’re looking to commute to work or embark on an epic cycling tour down the Rhine River. It also features a section on the 20 best hiking trails around Cologne for those looking for an Ausflug as the temperatures heat up.

READ ALSO: Here are 10 of Germany’s best (and longest) bike trails

Saving cash (and the environment) with Too Good To Go

If you want to do something against food waste and also save some money, “Too good to go” is the way to go. Various restaurants and bakeries in and around Cologne are offering their leftover food here at a special price. The app sorts by location or pick-up time. During the day, portions can be reserved and paid for via the app – and each offer shows the time at which the food will be ready for collection.

On the ball with the FC Köln App

Calling all sports fans: Here you will find everything you want to know about your favourite club, be it the latest news, information about the team, or their scores. Be sure to switch on the push notifications so that you always know when a goal is scored or if there is something new. The current status of matches and the live standings are also displayed.