The benefits of youth circus
Learning and developmental outcomes are best served by broad range of physical activities for people who are still growing. Over the years, they can experience big changes in their bodies and discover to their dismay that it becomes harder to do some of the things that they were good at, for varying lengths of time.
If they’re already specialising in one or even two disciplines, they’re not just disappointed and in danger of losing interest and confidence, they aren’t aware of the opportunity that’s inherent with those changes in their physiology. The fact is that they become more capable of achieving great things in other areas.
Ensuring that there’s thoughtful variation in our Youth Circus curriculum is one way that we give our students an uncompetitive, supportive environment where they can thrive as they learn and grow.
Much has been written in educational circles about learning through play. Because fun is integral to circus activities and our teaching ethos, it’s unparalleled among physical activities for developing the whole person.
Each circus art has different characteristics. As an example, juggling requires you to be laser-focused, and focus is both incidental and integral to trapeze. If you lose it, you may fall. That tends to make your brain develop concentration without you realising it because you’re having a blast. It’s not a chore, it’s a blessed relief from school work and yet it’s also enhancing your ability to handle that.
Of course, we’d make sure that the fall risk would be safely handled, but even the most reckless kid begins to subconsciously and consciously perform their own risk assessments and learn to understand boundaries.
Falling is less of a problem in juggling (unless you’re doing it on a trapeze) so there’s more scope for learning with patience. It’s a fairly fine-tuned problem-solving activity and repeating the same pattern over and over is great for concentration.
Static trapeze is one of the more physical aerial arts so it requires strength, whereas training on silks tends to develop greater flexibility because you do a lot of moves in splits.
Acrobalance is a team activity so you collaborate with however many people are in your people pyramid.
Acrobatics covers variety of tricks including tumbling and uses different muscles than aerial. That offers different problems to solve, and leads into other elements like dance and acrobatic flow. You can extend what you do and start creatively putting different things together.
Often young people discover their own approach to addressing problems and creative pursuits naturally through the opportunities they are presented with, and we facilitate those moments to let them evolve into sought-after characteristics.
We’ve also seen leadership and mentoring abilities emerging naturally as students work and play together freely in class and especially in projects like building a show. Giving young people responsibility is good for them from an early age.
What we see is when you blend different age groups in circus classes, the ages can melt away. They play and work together. They are mostly being taught by people who aren’t much older than them too, so their role models are relatable and inspirational.
People in the 13+ group may have graduated through that younger Youth Circus experience and can become wonderful mentors/class assistants, if they choose that route (this is also useful for university and job applications). We sometimes go through them to access understanding of the younger ones; they act as a bridge.
There will always be a broad range of abilities within each of our age categories and we will always offer challenges appropriate to each individual. However, there are also times when it’s useful to separate them into different classes.
The range of abilities and physical size is narrower and this gives us a different opportunity to focus carefully on what each student needs. It also holds space for peer-level interactions, which are as valuable as the mixed-age relationships.
At the moment, we have:
- Mondays one class for ages 7-12
- Wednesdays one class for ages 7+
- Fridays two classes for ages 3 and under, and ages 4-6
- Sundays two classes for ages 7-12 and one class for ages 13+
There is some fluidity in those categories, according to circumstances such as friendships and maturity. We are also responsive to the needs and wishes of the students so the plan may change if there is a clear benefit.
No previous experience is required at Aerial Edge, all the activities are adapted for individuals to achieve success at whatever level they are ready for.
If you’ve done nothing other than school PE lessons, you’ll achieve a lot in a surprisingly short time, and if you’ve already done dancing, gymnastics, acrobatics, parkour or trampoline, you’ll develop those skills further, while learning new things.
We’re super excited about our new venue and the team because we can see how we can teach videography, rigging, costuming, directing, producing, choreography and more. There’s a lot you can learn through circus that isn’t a front flip or balance.
And remember, all of the above applies to adults too! A great starting place in our adult recreational class schedule is Circus Fitness– and on Tuesdays your children can come too, to show you the ropes!