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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EXPLAINED: How to get rid of your old electronics in Germany

Battered old smartphones, ten-year old laptops and printers that have long since given up the ghost - these days everyone has at least one cupboard full of old electronics. But what's the best way to get rid of them in Germany? We tell you how.

EXPLAINED: How to get rid of your old electronics in Germany

Out with the old, in with the new – that tends to be the motto when it comes to our electronics. But after picking up a new gadget or appliance in the Cyber Monday sales, it can be a real headache to dispose of the old one.

If you live in Germany, there are plenty of options available for getting rid of old electronics without sending them to the landfill. Here are a few relatively easy ways to rid yourself of any used phones, laptops or coffee machines that are gathering dust in your cupboards. 

Take them to your local supermarket 

Since July this year, thanks to a change in the law, supermarkets and discounters have become handy drop-off spots for used electronics. Smaller items like old torches, phones, electric razers and phones are taken for free, while larger items are taken when a new item is purchased. 

The new law was intended to encourage better recycling habits by making it as easy as possible to get rid of old electronics. However, major retailers like Rewe and Aldi have reported that not many people have made use of the service so far.

Environmental campaigners say this is because the service tends to be poorly advertised and not entirely user-friendly. But with supermarkets offering one of the most convenient options for disposing of your old phones or bulbs, it may pay to be a little bit pushy and find out how the process works at your nearest store.

Here are a few rules and tips to know beforehand:

  • Smaller shops with a less than 800 square-metre retail area aren’t obligated to take old electronics, but may do voluntarily.
  • Items should generally be less than 25 cm in length to be accepted without charge, so generally things like small lamps, phones and hairdryers are all covered. 
  • If items exceed this size, supermarkets must take the old device back when a new one is purchased.
  • Don’t fancy lugging your old microwave or dishwasher to the store? Online retailers also offer an exchange as standard when you purchase a new item from them, and will usually collect the old item when dropping off the new one.
  • You don’t have to have bought your item from the retailer you drop it off at. As long as they sell some type of electronics, you’re well within your rights to dispose of your old items there. 
  • Generally you’re restricted to dropping off a maximum of three items at a time.

Return them to an electronics shop

Just like supermarkets and discounters, electronics shops like MediaMarkt and Saturn are legally obliged to take old electronic equipment off your hands.

Here, the rules are pretty much the same as above, except that in the case of specialist electronics shops, the retail space doesn’t have to be as large as for supermarkets. In fact, any electronics dealer near you with a retail floor space of at least 400 square metres will be covered under the new law. 

Once again, up to three small items will generally be recycled for you for free, while larger items can be disposed of if you buy a new item of a similar value or type. 

Sell them or trade them in

If your old smartphone or laptop is in a relatively good condition, it could be worth trying to sell it online second-hand. Places like Ebay, Facebook Marketplace and Ebay Kleinanzeigen can be good options for listing items like this, but there are plenty of online marketplaces to choose from. 

There are also plenty of online companies that will buy your old phones (and occasionally other electronic goods) in order to repair them and/or sell them on. Generally you fill in an online form on their website, get an initial quote for your item, send it off and get the money transferred to your account.

Old wires and chargers.

Old wires and chargers in a German households. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Büttner

This can be a good option if you’re not too worried about getting the best possible price for your old item and want to avoid the hassle of selling it yourself.

However, it’s worth noting that the price you’re quoted isn’t always the price you’ll get, since items are normally valued after they arrive. You’re also not likely to get as much as you would do by selling it directly, since the intermediaries make their money by taking a cut. 

One other option is to do things the old-school way, by sticking up a flyer in your neighbourhood advertising a few of your old items or by taking them to a local second-hand/repair shop. The key phrase to look for here is “an und verkauf” (purchase and sale) and the keyword “Elektrogeräte” (electronic devices). This may take a bit more effort but does give you a chance to meet people in your local community. 

READ ALSO: How to master second-hand shopping like a German

Donate them to a charity or social project

Local social projects and charities are always keen to take items that are in a usable condition, and this can be a great way to dispose of your item in both a socially and environmentally conscious way.

You can Google “Sozialkaufhaüser” to see if there are some places in your area that might accept your items, and some may even offer a collection service. 

Another option, particularly with smartphones, is to donate them to an organisation who will repair and sell them to help fund charitable work. These tend to be environmental charities or projects like Deutsche Umwelthilfe, Naturschutzbund Deutschland and Pro Wildlife.

Of course, you can also choose to give them away yourself to friends and family or via an online marketplace. However, it’s best not to take the easy option of shoving your old devices in a box marked ‘Zu verschenken’ and dumping on the street. Not only can the devices get easily weather damaged, but it may also be considered fly-tipping and could land you a hefty fine. 

There are also so-called “repair cafes” where hobby tinkerers help people fix up old items. Even if your old phone is barely usable, they may well be happy to take it and use it for spare parts. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure, right?

Recycling them at a waste disposal centre 

If all else fails, every medium-sized or large German town should have at least one Recyclinghof or Wertstoffhof, where unwanted items like old furniture and electronics can all recycled.

You can generally find these online on Google Maps or by asking a neighbour where your nearest one is. The main benefit of doing things this way is that there won’t be any caps on the size or quantity of items you can take to the tip: just bring everything you need to get rid of there and the staff will be able to tell you where to put it.

Old electronics at a recycling centre in Stuttgart

Old electronics at a recycling centre in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The downside is that the Recyclinghof may be some distance from your home, and it can be a big hassle to take your old electronics there – especially if you don’t own a car.

If you have a large electronic device such as a fridge or washing machine that needs recycling and don’t need to purchase a new one anytime soon, you can try and have it picked up by the council. 

Most towns in Germany used to do this for free at least twice a year, but now you’ll generally have to pay a fee, which depends on the size of the item. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: How do I dispose of unwanted furniture in Germany?

What about batteries and light bulbs?

Those are surprisingly easy to get rid of.

Pretty much all supermarkets and drug stores in Germany will have a box somewhere near the entrance or cashiers where you can drop off these small electronic goods at no cost.