Back to school

It’s almost that time of year again – back to school. And while the race is on to get children ready for another year inside the brick walls, there are many other decisions parents are making about the upcoming year for their children. One of those important decisions is what else their child will be doing over the course of the next ten months.

Some parents will insist that what a child does after school is just as important as the schooling itself. But as evident as the positives of after school activities are, it’s become easy to forget their importance.

“Right now, kids are spending over 40 hours a week in front of screens,” says Dr. Mark Tremblay, a scientist with Active Healthy Kids Canada. Studies have consistently shown that after school programs benefit the children not just physically, mentally, and creatively, but they also practically provide them with a fun social environment, and a supervised place for working parents to have their children go to.

“Teens involved in supervised after-school programs, for instance, are less likely to experiment with risky behaviours, including drugs and alcohol. Time spent being active outdoors after school lowers levels of anxiety, anger, fatigue and sadness. The science and benefits are clear”.

Reach your MAX

One obvious destination in the metro area for after school activities is MAX Arts. Athletics. Wellness. – a company which came to be in 2010 which now owns and operates some of the most sophisticated facilities and programs in the province. And though MAX offers strong physical activity based programs in basketball, volleyball, martial arts, and fitness and conditioning, not every child is interested in sports.

There are few afterschool programs that would not acknowledge the fact that children enjoy and learn from the arts. The arts provide opportunities for children to succeed where they might not in other traditional academic subjects, but many of these programs do not have trained art teachers and are unable to go beyond occasional activities. MAX is an exception – it proudly provides full arts in dance, theatre, and music – programs taught by full time and professional teachers.

Music and Theatre

One of those instructors you may have heard of: Julia Halfyard. Julia heads the music and theatre programs at MAX. Her Masters in Voice Performance at Memorial University alone would qualify her for that job, but Julia has an extensive background in stage performances as well; she has performed acts ranging from popular to classical to musical theatre in settings ranging from cabaret clubs to the symphonic stage – and she applies these experiences in the classroom and studio setting.

The MAX music program welcomes the beginner, intermediate, and advanced music student. “We offer several options to our students”, says Halfyard, “whether it’s private lessons in a variety of instruments or choral classes in a group setting”.

Halfyard points out that the program is very flexible for musical families, offering convenience in terms of scheduling lessons around other disciplines within MAX or sibling lessons. One of those other disciplines important to Halfyard is the theatre program.

“Not only do we have excellent music instruction in the Music Department of MAX,” says Halfyard, “we also have a thriving theatre department”. Halfyard explains that she just finished 6 weeks of Musical Theatre Summer Studio for kids. “We have an excellent faculty with an extensive background in theatre – and we like to have a lot of fun in our productions”.

Dance

If your child would prefer to dance to music rather than create it, MAX also offers a very extensive dance program. MAX Dance is lead by Director Marie Steffen(Cragg) who has been teaching and choreographing in St John’s for the past 20 years. Trained professionally at the London College of Dance, Marie gained her teaching diploma, and holds associate diploma status and certificates from around the world. Her fine team of instructors include Associate Directors Lynn Panting and Pamela Pittman, and an entire staff of teachers.

“MAX Dance is all about finding your place. We aim to meet the needs of the individual whether it is a social, a technical, or an artistic desire. What binds students and staff alike is our love of dance” says Steffen. The program offers fun classes for the recreational student as well as pre-professional programs for more serious dancers. “We have students that will carry on and become professional performers, dance teachers, we also have students that will not, but continue to practice dance purely for the love it.”

The staff is well qualified, and well equipped too – with over 10,000 square feet of space, the studio facilities include 4 air-conditioned studios with professional sprung flooring and sound systems. There are even large parent waiting areas with viewing windows into EVERY studio and a cafe. “We are proud to be able to offer classes to everyone. Here everyone has a place”.

Get active this Fall

Active Healthy Kids Canada says that 73% of parents report that their kids are watching tv, reading, or playing video games after school. Julia Halfyard believes that there is no replacement for after school activities and programs like those that MAX offers. “Our programs allow children to have fun in a group environment, teaching them to participate in a team and to interact with others. It’s a great chance to allow your child to develop interpersonal skills & intrapersonal skills that are so important in their growth”.

One thing is for certain – wherever your child’s interests may lie, MAX has a program. Whether its music, theatre, dance, athletic in nature, MAX’s group of qualified instructors and state of the art facilities can help your child grow and succeed.

For more information on MAX programs, visit their website: http://www.yourmax.ca.