It’s almost the first day of dance class and your student may be experiencing butterflies in their tummies. As they are preparing to participate in a more structured environment, this could be the
first time they have separated from you for an activity on their own.
Many parents are not familiar with the procedures of dance class. Whether you have experience or not, you will have expectations for your child, the class and the teacher.
For a child that is brand new to dance the first few days and weeks can be quite challenging. Especially for a very young student who has not had any schooling. The new environment and unknown faces can be frightening at first. Some kids “leap” right into the groove while others take a more cautious approach. In that case, they may watch and participate in some of the movement but, participation can be minimal.
It is very common for children to take some time to warm up to the situation. Many children can take several weeks to warm up to the teacher and a class room setting. They can still learn a lot from observing and forcing participation is not needed, they will eventually join in.
Being gentle and encouraging will help the shy or frightened children adjust to the class room setting and slowly begin to participate. Very few children will miss out on the fun for very long.
When young children are feeling insecure, they may show signs through their words, body language or tears to insist they are safer with their parent in the room. However, as hard as it is, try to resist giving in to this behavior for long periods of time before entering the classroom. The good-bye itself is usually the worst part, and most of the time the kids who are crying recover quickly and join the class activities.
It is very important for the parents to have the opportunity to observe dance class. However, the first few weeks are not a good time. This time is spent establishing routines, expectations and developing a relationship between the teacher and students. Scheduling watch times throughout the year allows for the teacher, students and parents to prepare for this special event so that the students can be on their best behavior and show what they have been learning.
What Can You Do?
Arrive a little bit early to the first day of classes to show your child around and say hello to the teacher. This can ease their minds and help them settle into their class environment. Parent involvement reassures your dancer and shows them that your role is an important one at dance class too.
Here are a few more ideas to help ease your dancer into dance class:
Have them bring a “stand in” favorite toy or stuffed animal from home that can sit quietly with their things and watch them dance.
- Have special hugs and kisses before and after every dance class.
- Give them something special to wear in their hair that gives them brave powers.
As They Grow…
As your dancer grows, they will start to benefit from the time apart from parents. They will start to gain confidence in their own abilities to learn new things, make choices and have ideas that they will want to share. Watching your child grow to dance on their own is where the true gift of dance will be seen.
A good dance school will take great care in making sure your little ones are in the best possible educational environment to build a strong foundation to build upon as they grow into lovely dancers and young people. Parents and teachers working together will ensure a great start to a long and positive dance future.