When your little one starts a dance class it can be a very daunting time - for both them and yourself as a parent. Many questions are asked in the lead up to walking into their first class as it can be difficult to know what to expect. Will she like it? Will he join in? Will she listen to the teacher? Here a few tips to help you navigate through those first few weeks of classes.
The First Class
All kids are different in their approach to their first dance class. There are those who are fine with joining in straight away and are full of confidence. Then there are those who are more reserved and prefer to watch at first. The important thing to remember is that this is completely normal. There is no right or wrong way to approach a new situation (as we know ourselves as adults). Some of our students like to watch the class first and then they go home and the following week come back and join in straight away as they now know what to expect. Then there are the students who begin by watching, then with encouragement will walk around with the teacher, and eventually will then join in. This process can sometimes take a few weeks or months - every student is different.
My child just runs around, they mustn't like it.
Not necessarily! Students need time to adjust to being in a formal learning environment. Listening to someone tell them what to do and then be expected to follow those instructions straight away is a very hard skill. Part of being enrolled in a dance class aside from learning how to dance, is learning important life skills such as following instructions, sharing things, learning about space and people around them. Like all new things - these skills take time to master and as teachers we are very patient :-)
My child won't join in.
I have often had parents say to me "I don't understand - she won't join in here but then she goes home and does all the steps you have done in class!" Funnily enough this is quite common but it also makes a lot of sense. These little people like to go home and practice a skill and 'get it right' before joining in a public class. They observe class, taking it all in, go home and try everything out, once they are comfortable and happy then they will participate in class. This is one of the reasons I always encourage parents to give it time before withdrawing from class.
It is also not uncommon for students to feel uncomfortable if they don't have the 'right' clothes. They view the class and see all of these kids with leotards and ballet shoes and they want to fit in a look like everyone else.
Should I stay or wait outside class?
Parents watching in class can have an effect on how your child participates in class. Most dance schools have a policy regarding parent watching and there are many reasons for this. As a general rule, students are actually able to participate in class more fully when there are not parents watching in the studio/room. Our little people have very small attention spans, and it takes a lot of concentration to listen to the teacher, navigate their dance space and make their little bodies complete the dance steps that are asked of them. When there are extra people in the room this provides extra stimulus, through what they see and what they hear. Any noise or movement, no matter how small, has a profound impact on our little people's ability to focus on the teacher and what they are currently doing.
In some cases if students are reluctant to move away from their parent and join in, when the parent does leave the room they are often able to compose themselves and start participating in class sooner.
Little People are Little People
Lastly we do need to remember that our Little People are just that - little people learning about the world we live in and what is expected of them in different settings. It can be a big transition for them and often we have to be patient and give them the time they need to understand their new surroundings and feel comfortable. Joining a dance class is a great way for kids to learn these new life skills, make new friends and ultimately have fun (even if they do like licking the mirrors!).