How to help your child choose a dance class
Tips to help your child choose her first dance classHelping your child choose a dance class may seem like a daunting task. With the growing popularity of dance on television and movies, depending on your location, you may have a number of studios, teachers, and dance styles to choose from.
For beginning dancers, the good news is that dance schools aim to simplify the decision process. With a little research and exploration, before you know it youíll find your child twirling in the hallway and marking her or his recital date on the calendar.
Ask your child why she wants to take a dance class and youíll probably get a simple answer: Ďfor funí or Ďmy friends do ití. Dance classes also offer children the opportunity to build confidence, grace and discipline in positive social environment that doubles as a creative outlet for their energy.
Dance classes are exciting for kids, but theyíre also a commitment. Children commit their free time; parents commit money and driving time. Your child is more likely to stick with a class that she has a say in choosing, but itís important to make sure the options your child chooses from will fit into your budget and schedule.
Researching Dance Classes
If you live in an area with multiple dance studios, consider doing the initial research on your own. This way your child wonít set his heart on the one class that doesnít work with your schedule. Determine your budget and note any restrictions in your schedule as most classes occur weekly on the same day(s). If your schedule is limited, try to find out if other parents with children in dance class would be able to carpool. Children get the most out of dance when they miss as few classes as possible.
From tights, shoes and leotards, to costumes, competitions and tuition, dancewear appropriate to the class and style of dance is part of your investment. Once you figure out your budget, ask local dance studios or teachers for a comprehensive list of all fees associated with the class. Ask if youíll receive free tickets to the recital. Are there penalties if your child quits?
Class V.S. Professional Training
There are a few dance schools that exist to train professional dancers. These schools are more strict and challenging for children, and may be too much pressure for a child just developing an interest in dance.
However, most schools for children balance education and training with fun. Ask other parents for referrals. What teachers did their children love? Peruse local bulletin boards, flip through the phone book and read online reviews to narrow your list and check for red flags before bringing your child into the search.
Which dance styles excite your child?
After youíve spoken to the local dance schools and narrowed the options based on schedule, fees and recommendations, ask your child what style of dancing interests her. Some studios offer beginner classes that introduce students to a variety of dance styles including jazz, ballet, contemporary and hip hop. These options are fantastic for children.
If your child needs help on which dance class to take, itís time to explore. Live dance performances are ideal for introducing children to a specific style of dance, but this isnít always an option. Fortunately, you can rent DVDs of classic performances like The Nutcracker or simply turn on the television. The popular T.V. show ĎSo You Think You Can Danceí features a wide variety of common dance styles, often set to modern music. Clips and full episodes from this show are available online.
Note that your childís age may help determine the style of dance he chooses. Preschoolers are introduced to rhythm and movement through creative movement classes rather than a structured dance class. Serious ballet classes typically do not take students under the age of seven because younger children are not yet strong and enough to stand on their toes.
Visit the Dance Studio
Your child will spend a good deal of time in class so itís important to visit the dance studio. Make sure itís located in a safe area. Once inside, the studio should feel pleasant and complete with a friendly staff, good temperature, water fountains, restrooms, change area, and a well maintained dance space with a mirrored wall and plenty of room to accommodate class sizes.
Many states do not require dance teachers to be certified, but itís important to make sure your childís teacher is qualified to teach dance. Ask about the instructorís professional dance experience, how many years he or she has taught dance and what the general structure of each class will be.
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