"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Sunday, November 01, 2009

3 Reasons Why Improvisation is Crucial to Youth Today

Think of the perfect words to say in a few seconds.

Then say them.

Such are skills that storytellers cherish and that youth could benefit from if trained from the beginning.

Reasons to Build Improvisation Skills in Youth:

  • Balance Recitation in Life
  • Increase Independent Thinking
  • Develop Quick Solutions
Balance Recitation in Life
Youth have been told what to say since babies. "Mommy" and "Daddy" are common requests from parents for the baby's first words.

Siblings may join in this contest of words.

When my parents gave me a tape recorder for Christmas, I pretended to be a reporter. I had certain phrases I wanted my younger brother and sister to say.

In schools, kids are expected to memorize, recite, or repeat what the teacher says or what the textbook proclaims. Sometimes this encouragement is needed to build vocabulary. However, at a certain point, we need youth to explore their world and play with sound and images.

Some teachers boost creativity in their classrooms by encouraging students to write historical fictions. Other teachers merge storytelling games with curriculum. Usually the games work best as a review of material so that the students could adapt their improvisations to the knowledge learned.

Increase Independent Thinking
Kids cannot vote in elections until the age of 18. That is a while to wait before their voices are officially counted.

In the meantime, they rely on the decisions of adults to shape most of their political, economical, and social lives. . .unless they build confidence through improvisational skills.

Improvisation is another way to give youth permission to think outside the norm. Risks and mistakes are part of the practice. Adrenalin rises and the heart pounds, but these natural reactions seem to also fire the synapses in the brain. The more we test our wits, then the easier and faster our brains work.

Story repertoire could be as much as a source for building improvisational skills than storytelling games.

The youth could make a list of stories they could tell with ease. Then they could make a list of stories that could be told after one or two run-throughs. While reflecting on the keywords, moods, and moments within the stories, the youth may be inspired to tell one story over another given the situation.

Perhaps they may create stories simply by looking into the eyes of their listeners.

Now that is independent thought.

That would be a gift that youth could take with them and use while giving presentations in college, answering interview questions of potential employers, or addressing needs of their own families as they have children of their own.

Develop Quick Solutions
Youth seem to fly through their baby, toddler, adolescent, and teenage years until suddenly they are going to college.

Every second that youth save in making right choices--whether saying no to drugs, cheering a friend to do their best, or handling bullies--improvisation skills provide resolution to their lives such as through role-playing techniques.

The lack of role-play or exploration of possibilities leads to resistance.

While attending an excellent workshop taught by national teller Angela Lloyd for teachers and parents who coach youth tellers, two youth tellers were asked to be coached in front of everybody.

As Lloyd promoted the tellers to share the prepared stories in words other than what was memorized, one youth repeated the same words. Lloyd was patient and asked the question in different ways so that the youth learned other ways to approach the story.

Sometimes, if shy, youth may be more willing to play with the story when done with a partner. Then the youth would have support in the process and could bounce off pretend dialogue with the other person for the story.

Who said that quick thinkers needed to be alone to produce the solutions?

When other youth are not available, then at least the youth could count on you.

Go out there. Cheer on the youth. Enjoy storytelling games. Build stories in the moment. Role-play.

You know you want to play. So do the youth.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com/
Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/rachelfans
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

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