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First Dance Experience: Creative Dance for Children-How to Choose a Dance Studio
Choosing your child's dance studio
When your child expresses an interest in dance what should you look for when searching for a dance studio or teacher? If you are like most parents you want your child’s first experience to be pleasant, fun and a learning experience. But, what should you look for? Here is a list of several points to consider before making your final decision.
What to ask when choosing a dance studio for your child
What age does the studio accept students?
While most studios have a creative movement class for toddlers, studios vary with their policy about exactly what age a child should begin. Age 3 or 4 is the average. Some studios have taken students at age 18 months, with a parent interacting through the class. Others may open their doors to a two year old.
What is the class size?
Class size for toddlers is an important factor. In most cases, if you find our child is one of over a dozen kids without more than two teachers or one teacher and an assistant, you may want to pull your child out. Individual attention, even in a carefree atmosphere, should be a primary goal, not filling the class with as many kids as possible.
How many minutes should the class run?
Thirty minutes is the average creative movement class. Any time over that your child may become restless.
What type of learning activities can I expect to be introduced?
A creative movement class focuses primarily on gross motor skills: hopping, jumping, skipping, turning, and marching; along with rhythm, counting, clapping, shapes, sounds, concepts such as soft and loud, following directions and other similar activities.
What if my child cries during class?
It is not unusual for a child, especially one who is shy, to be hesitant in any new class. Getting into a social mode with other children her age, or a first teacher experience may cause anxiety and perhaps a few tears. If after several weeks, however, you feel your child is still resisting and not enjoying the class, you may want to re-evaluate her attendance. She may not be ready for the experience, and may need six more months of maturity before re-introducing the class.
How to find the right dance teacher & other concerns
What should I look for in a teacher working with my child?
This is a very important question. Is the teacher friendly, greeting your child and seeing him or her as an individual? Does she know your child by name and his personality? How does the teacher handle a crying child in class? Is the teacher in control of the class? Are there discipline problems? How does the teacher gain your children’s attention and keep it? Does your child’s teacher look relaxed or frazzled while teaching? While teaching, where is the teachers attention; agenda; or motivation? Is the attention equally distributed? Is your child learning new things and having fun while doing it? Does your son or daughter look forward to dance class? Is your child’s teacher patient? Do you feel the class is progressing or is it stifling; or boring? Is there a progression of skills that your child is able to demonstrate?
What should I look for in a studio?
With today’s concern for inappropriate touching there is an emphasis on visibility. Many ‘old school’ studios have restricted viewing, in order to reduce the amount of distraction a child faces while learning a new skill and being ‘watched’. However, a good rule of thumb is how often you are able to watch. In my opinion, if a teacher needs to be in the confines of privacy to get your child to pay attention, then perhaps there is a basic problem with the teacher’s ability to be in control of her class.
Take a tour of the studio. Is it clean; roomy; with adequate changing areas and bathrooms? Are there windows for you to watch your child's class? Are there mirrors on the walls? How is registration and payment handled? Does the staff appear friendly and professional? And, finally, does the studio look bright, cheerful and kid friendly?
What type of clothing will my child wear?
That will be up to the dance studio’s policy. Some like leotard and tights with ballet slippers all basic black and pink; some encourage leotards and tutus. The tutu is the little net skirt around the dancer’s waist. Boys would wear black dance pants and a white t-shirt. Other places don’t care what a child wears as long as the student is able to move freely in it.
What if I register and my child does not like it?
Many studios offer a free first class; other studio policies restrict any refunds, but may offer a different class in lieu of the nonrefundable class policy. Be prepared for other registration fees.
Can I enroll my son in a creative movement class, or is it only for girls?
Creative movement is exactly as it says: movement , and what three and four year olds don’t love to move no matter what their gender. If your child loves music; and can listen and follow directions, by all means let your son march; spin and jump with the rest of the group.