Enrolling Your Child In Dance Class

I grew up dancing. It has always been my favorite thing to do and although there were a few times I had thought about quitting early on, my mom encouraged me to stick through it, and I’m glad I did.

I started out around second grade with tap dancing and gymnastics. Throughout the years, I also did jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip hop and cheerleading. Tap was the one thing I stuck with the entire time, though. I was a shy child, I still am quite shy to an extent, but performing helped me battle that a little bit.

There are many ways dancing can help a child. It teaches rhythm, discipline, balance, grace and poise. It keeps them active and in shape. It allows your child to express themselves and their feelings through music and motion. And it allows them some pretty extraordinary opportunities later in life, such as fun career opportunities, scholarships and more! It has also been known to help athletes in sports such as soccer, baseball and football, so keep in mind, it’s not just for girly-girls. Athletic girls, and even boys, make great dancers as well!

After high school, I traveled for a summer teaching high school dance camps in the eastern U.S. Once the summer was over, I started teaching classes at a local studio to children three years and older. The little ones were the most fun to work with.

With our young beginners, we did a tap/ballet combo class. We’d start out with the basic tapping of your foot to keep rhythm, and then move on to bigger and better things as the session continued.

Since my daughter was born, I decided I’d like to eventually introduce her to dance. I don’t want to be pushy and make her feel like it’s something she HAS to do, but I do want it to be an option for her. We’ve since started out with basic steps, tapping her toe in front of her, flaps, and shuffles. It’s just here and there right now. She is only a two-year-old though, she tends to have a wandering mind and gets easily side-tracked.

Because of my love for dance, I decided to share a few things from a dance teacher’s perspective for you to think about if you’re thinking of signing your child up for dance classes.

  • Classes generally coincide with the school year. They usually start in the fall and end before summer. During this time, they usually teach the basic steps, advancing as the year goes on, and at the same time teaching a dance routine (or a few depending, on the studio) to perform at the end of the year recital. If you’re only planning on enrolling for a couple of months and not the whole year, I’d recommend talking to the studio owner/teacher and find out if that would be okay first, or look into a rec league. When you have a dance choreographed for five dancers and one drops out mid-season, it could affect the choreography.
  • Don’t be upset or discouraged when your young child’s mind wanders during class. Younger students tend to have a harder time focusing on what they should be doing. They want to play. It’s typical and the instructors know that. It’s okay.
  • Work with your child. Take notes during class, if you can, and review at home. Practice rhythm with them by tapping their toes or clapping their hands. And also do things in eight-counts. It’s the standard way of counting while dancing. Count to eight in rhythm and start over again at one. If your child is really struggling or is learning a new routine, ask their instructor if you can bring a video camera so that they can work on it more at home, or even a private session.
  • Encourage them to do well, and to stick to it. But don’t be pushy. When I’m told I HAVE to do something, it makes me not want to do it. Kids are the same way. If they tell you after the first class that they don’t like it, encourage them to try just a few more times before making their final decision. It’s hard, sometimes, for children to adjust to new things. It might take a few times before they feel comfortable. They’re meeting new people, doing something outside of what they’re used to. It’s normal, but they’ll adjust! I personally cried during my entire first dance class and clung on to my mom as tight as possible, but I eventually became comfortable and found a passion in it. I even performed in my first talent show as a solo-act that same year!
  • Always be on time. If class starts at 6 p.m., be there 15 minutes early. The extra time allows your child to change their shoes, hang up their jacket and get settled before class starts. There’s nothing worse than teaching a class and having students arriving late, interrupting the other students. This also can result in missing the chance to warm up or the teacher having to re-review the things that had just been taught, taking time away from the rest of the class. Same goes for absentees. If you know you’re child is going to be absent, notify the instructor and maybe find out if there’s a possibility of making up the class during a private session.

  • Always be prepared. Make sure to come in proper dress and always have your shoes. Some studios have a somewhat strict dress code to follow. Most require a leotard and tights. Some allow jazz pants or a skirt. Contact your studio to find out what your child should wear to class. Hair should also be pulled up, especially out of your child’s face. You may be asked to keep it in a bun. If not, I’d recommend at least a ponytail, just so it doesn’t get in the way.
  • Expect there to be expenses. You will be paying for classes, attire, shoes, as well as costumes for end of the year, and in some cases, competition entry fees. Some places will arrange fundraisers to help you with the costs, but some will not.

Please keep in mind that not all studio policies are the same. The information that I am giving you is general information from my own personal experiences. As I said, some studios will require a certain dress code or hair style. Some studios will not allow parents to watch the classes or even video tape. When you’re looking for a dance studio, make sure to ask what their policies are ahead of time so that you can comply.

I hope this information helps. If you have any other tips you’d like to share, or if you have any questions, please comment below!

2 Responses to Enrolling Your Child In Dance Class

  1. Great tips! My little one loves dancing around the house, I bet she’d love a dance class when she’s a bit older!

  2. Yes its a lot of work on the parents part also my girls love dance class me not so much. thanks for a fresh perspective

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