Under 5 Year Old Tips For Kids Entertainers
My name’s Colette Kelly and I’m a children’s entertainer. Right now, according to convention, is where I should add that I LOVE performing for kids. Well I don’t. I’d like to love it but truth is it scares me. As we get to know each other in this series of articles I’m creating exclusively for Kids Entertainer Hub you’ll get to know and understand my fear of performing in front of an audience and how you can deal with it too …
Part of me understanding what makes me tick is understanding what makes little kids tick. Delving into the minds of our precious little ones, well that I do LOVE. Come along with me in this 6 part series where I invite you to share my insights into this fascinating area of kids entertaining.
We’ll cover …
1. Little Kids vs Big Kids
2. Successful activities for little kids
3. Musical activities for little kids
4. What makes little kids laugh
5. How to handle those ‘little accidents’
6. Simple magic tricks for little kids.
I like to start by understanding the fundamentals …
Little kids vs Big kids
This video shows how miscalling colours gets the tiny tots laughing like crazy
So you are curious… What qualifies a child as a ‘little kid’ rather than a ‘big kid’?
In my book, the under 5’s fit the category “little kids” and in a series of articles I will share what brings giggles of glee to the tiniest of tots.
I am going to share some experience, research, psychology and techniques that will demystify this seemingly ‘impossible to entertain’ age group and have you engaging and entertaining with ease.
Being able to entertain the younger children opens a whole world of opportunity that many children entertainers avoid. The under 5 market is lucrative but also rewarding to work in and once you have a few failsafe techniques, you will be taking on the tots with ease.
I assume that if you are reading this you already know that the material that entertains a 6 year old child is significantly different to the content that will keep a 3 year old engaged. The reason for this is simple, one child is double the age of the other, a whole lifetime older. Its like a DJ playing the same music at a 21st party and a 40th birthday. It just doesn’t work.
To understand what makes a 3 year old tick we could look to the developmental theorists like Erick Erickson, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth and study their research on emotional and psychological development or we can take a shortcut and learn from the Tellytubbies.
Watching television programs aimed at the youngest of children can teach us a lot about what the age group like and its way more fun than wading through the works of Jean Piaget.
Watch a few different kids television programme and you will notice a few things things that are similar. Bold simple colours as apposed to patterns, funny noises, simple words spoken slowly, large gestures, familiar objects and lots of repetition.
A 3 year old can identify and name simple colours. They know red, blue, green and yellow, mostly pronounced ‘lello’. If you want to see a smile on a little ones face try miscalling a colour. Say something like “look at this red balloon” and hold up a blue balloon, believe me the child will let you know you have it wrong. This is a great ice breaker and much more effective than asking them their name. It gives the little child the power in your relationship with them and this helps to make the child feel secure and confident.
Try miscounting, this works well in lines or small groups. Say “let me check if everyone is here. 1, 2, banana, elephant, carrot, duck… you do this slowly while counting the children, believe me someone will laugh and say no. Key into the repetition and do it again and again and the little ones will laugh harder each time you do.
At age 3 a child has the concept that they are separate from their parents and other children.
So you will find that they will tend play on their own as an individual rather than engage in a group. The idea of ‘team work’ is completely unknown to them so it’s best to do group activities where the children are acting out of self interest rather than team interest. I will be sharing some great games that key into this psychology in my next article [Successful activities for little kids], so don’t miss it.
A personal, individual interaction with each of them appeals to them and is a successful way to start of your engagement with them.
At 3 and 4 a child thinks very literally and they see the world from their own perspective. Children often feel they are at the centre of their own universe and that everything that goes on is just for them. A good way to work with this is to learn and call them by name, comment on their clothes or their hair or something personal to them, acknowledge their actions and reinforce their positive behaviour (and ignore anything negative).
Work with concepts that they know like colours and shapes, simple numbers and their name and friends’ names. By miscalling these things, they will be amused and in no uncertain terms correct you.
A firm favourite of mine is to miscall two friends’ names and then act all confused and try and fail again and again. Have them correct you. You now have engagement. This is a sure win, every time. See this in action in the video.
With engagement comes trust, they give it easily and when they trust you, you are set to engage them in activities that get them giggling, laughing and having the time of their life.
There is nothing more rewarding than sharing a child’s pure joy and the littler the child, the bigger the joy when it emerges. Patience is to be used in great measure with the under 5’s.
Think of them as a flower waiting to bloom, if you force the petals they will break but if you are patient and provide the things the plant needs, you will be rewarded with a beautiful bloom.
In my next post [Successful activities for little kids], I will be sharing how we can build on the foundation of trust with an activity that the little kids find totally irresistible in. I can’t wait to share this because I know you will use it.
‘Till next time.