How to help your child learn their lines

Whether your child is learning lines for a Noodle show, a school assembly or a nativity play, it can be a struggle to get them to remember their words.

The start of the final half term before Christmas often sees children bringing home lines to learn. Whether they have been asked to learn lines for a festive performance or they need to know some song lyrics for a carol concert, there are plenty of ways you can help them become word-perfect.

So what can you do to take the chore out of memorising and make learning lines fun?

  1. Break it down

If they have a whole passage to learn or they are trying to get to grips with the lyrics of a song, don’t attempt the whole thing straight away. Help your child learn the words by breaking it down into small chunks. Say a few words at a time and get your child to repeat them. If they are old enough to read, it can help to write individual lines out on scraps of paper. Encourage them to read the line from the paper and then fold it over and see if they can remember it.

2. Cues are key

In a play where your child needs to remember to say their lines at a certain point, helping them to learn their cue is really important. Make sure they know what will happen on stage or what words will be spoken just before they need to come in and practice with them at home. Make it fun and light-hearted and give lots of praise when they recognise their cues and come in at the right time. If your child has several lines, make cue cards with the last word before they come in written on them and see how many they can remember.

3. Make a recording

If your child cannot read or is an auditory learner – someone who learns best by listening, making a recording of the lines can really help. Record yourself saying the lines and leave a gap for your child to repeat the words whilst listening. When your child learns something, a new connection or neural pathway is formed in their brain. These are strengthened by repetition, making it easier for your child to recall things they have heard or said again and again.

4. Keep it fun

Anxiety makes it harder for your child to learn and remember so try to avoid putting any pressure on them. Focus on the positives and the parts they can remember and give them lots of praise and encouragement. Don’t make a big fuss when they forget what they need to say, just smile and try again. Pick a time of the day when your child isn’t tired, hungry or upset about something else to practise. Make learning lines into a fun game where they can earn a treat or reward for getting it right. And only spend a few minutes practising at a time so they don’t become weary and start to shut down.

5. Picture perfect

Some children find pictures and visual images help them to learn. Try making some picture prompts to help trigger their memory and get them to recall their lines. Say the lines while holding the pictures up and then see if your child can remember the lines when you show them the images. Once they are confidently saying their lines when they see the pictures, encourage them to visualise the images in their head to help them remember.

6. Strengthen their memory skills

Memory is like a muscle, the more it is used, the stronger and more effective it becomes. Help your child develop their concentration and memory skills with games which encourage them to remember things. Classic options include matching card games, where your child needs to find pairs by remembering the position of certain cards, and Kim’s Game, where you put a number of objects on a tray and ask your child to memorise them before taking the tray away and asking them to name as many of the items as possible. You can also play Kim’s Game by secretly taking away one of the objects and asking your child to work out which one is missing. 

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