A week ago I spotted an advert at the children’s centre for a production at Oxford Playhouse’s Taylor Burton studio- it was about dinosaurs and aimed at 4 to 8 year olds. Perfect for Hugo, who’s obsessed with dinosaurs at the moment and for Angelina, who really enjoys theater.
Except it was during school time- Friday 1:30.
Parenting dilemma! Should I take kids? Shouldn’t I?
As I picked up the kids I popped into the school office to put in a formal request to the headteacher for the children to be allowed to go.
I didn’t hear back. I sent a note with the kids on the morning to their teachers telling them that I will be picking kids up at 1.
On picking up the kids I bumped into the headteacher and mentioned that I didn’t hear back, but was here for the kids. She informed me that she’d granted Hugo permission, but not Angelina. I was perplexed: So one of my children would have an authorised and one an unauthorised absence. Great way to support families and not add to the sibling rivary! I pondered for short while whether to go ahead, take one child only or neither.
The thing was that I had already told the kids about the plans, so couldn’t not take them. Angelina was going to be truant.
We got to the Burton Taylor studio, Hugo was immediately excited on recognising the place for a previous Christmas production he’d been to last year.
In the studio there were cushions scattered on the floor and chairs dotted around the edge. As we sat down a messy miner came up to us and introduced himself. He was doing a good job easing the kids into the environment.
The production of What to do When You Find a Dinosaur started: it started with farts and belches and we met William Buckland the eccentric professor and his wife.
My favourite bit was where they did a little light and shadow show of how a cat can become a fossil. Any child (or adult) seeing that will remember it forever. So funny!
Professor Buckland and Mrs Buckland (a mother to 9! children) were determine to make a great discovery of sorts and were very lucky indeed to stumble upon a big piece of slate (kindly deposited in their apartment by our friendly miner). The slate held a secret: in it was a dinosaur bone, a jaw bone. The audience was soon drawn in to help find the rest of the skeleton (a large version of those wooden dinosaur jigsaw pieces).
The dinosaur, a Megalosaurus, then comes to life for a song and dance too.
The brief 55 minute production was over way too quickly, but that was also one of the best things about this production: It was perfectly timed for the 4-8 year age group. The interactive bits kept them engaged all along. I was so glad we went. Angelina and Hugo came away skipping and singing and happy for the rest of the day, they were asking science questions for the rest of the day.
However, I was left sad that I had to break the rules to give my children this experience. What example am I setting for them?
Surely teachers, head teachers should be given more discretion to allow children to take time away from school for activities which give them so much more than the school can at that point in time. The obsession with stats can’t be constructive in the long-term. What do the absence numbers really tell us?
Would you have taken your child out for the afternoon?
The images are courtesy of the Oxford Playhouse, as I wasn’t allowed to take pictures for copyright reasons.
The Burton Taylor Studio is managed by the Oxford Playhouse and has a very interesting history linked to global megastars. Have a read here: Burton Taylor Studio
They do tend to put on more interactive shows for kids. The next one that I’m really looking forward to in Hurry up, Father Christmas! Let’s just say the tickets will be mixed in with the sweets that St Nicolas brings on the 6th of December.
Thank you so much to the East Oxford Children’s centre and the Oxford Playhouse for giving us the opportunity to attend with heavily discounted tickets.