First generation dancers are somewhat an anomaly to their parents. The sparkle, the tutus, and hours of lessons are not only foreign, but can be a point of contention if not understood and supported by the parent. Read on to better understand your young mover and for useful tips to give your dancer their best foot forward - pun intended.
Who is this Moving Creature?
Perhaps ever since your little one has learned to walk they simultaneously burst into a frenzy of dancing and singing. You turned away at first hoping these antics would fade, but alas you have come to terms with your tiny dancer and signed them up for class. You've made the first right step and it only gets better from here! Your official dancer is now ready to grow in a loving caring and learning environment. You most likely have a creative, analytical, and busy child who will flourish in a dance studio environment.
How to Help your Dancer Prepare for Class
All classroom settings have etiquette and dance is no different. One of the many benefits for your dancer age 4-8 is the discipline that comes along with the structure of dance class. Below are some ways to help your child prepare physically and mentally for their class.
Come with hair neat, tidy, and pulled back. Teachers like to see their dancers faces and don't want hair to be a distraction to this age who is easily distracted.
Feed your dancer a light snack that teaches healthy eating habits and fills them up enough to keep from a rumbling tummy, but does not make them feel sick from moving around, which they will be doing a lot of!
Find out if your studio has a dress code and come prepared accordingly. Clean leotards and tights are a sure bet and will make your dancer feel serious about their class. Messy and untidy outfits don't help a child focus. If your child is in different attire from their classmates this could also be a distraction.
If you have options choose simple slip on shoes with no ties to help with quick shoe changes.
Set aside a special bag for your dancer for their shoes, a small water bottle, and a snack that they can take to dance each week. Personalizing the bag with a monogram or name can help differentiate between the other dance bags. Always write the dancer's name in the shoes.
Stick around in the lobby incase your little one needs you for bathroom assistance or an encouraging word.
Parent's often have questions specific to dancers ages 4-8
Below is a quick Q&A that will shed light on your tiny dancer
Q: How soon should my child start dance? When is too late? Dancers can start at any age, although it may be more humbling the later they start. The goal ages 4-6 is to fall in love with the art and experiment with movement, flexibility, and classroom etiquette. Ages 7-8 is when you can start to progress with their dance education and push those pupils with raw talent. If your child has shown interest, start them as soon as you are ready!
Q: How can I save money if our family has a lot of other expenses? You can purchase shoes for kids who are growing quickly at consignment shops. You may also be able to borrow from a friend who has outgrown their shoes. Some studios offer discounts for multiple children enrolling in the same family. There are also usually price breaks for dancers who want to take unlimited classes.
Q: What should my child do outside of class to help with their dancing? At this age it's critical to stretch and gain flexibility. Set aside time to stretch each day. Make sure your child does a warm up before deep stretching. You can also find a small space to practice moves and recital pieces. Ask your teacher for recital music in advance for your child to practice at home. Kid's love when adults join in so jump in and join in on the fun and dance with your child at home.
Q: Is there anything else I can do to connect with my dancer? Children want time and attention from you, their parent. Take the time to read books together about their interest, dance and otherwise. Study the topic so you can understand terminology, and common issues with injuries, and other difficult challenges that occur within the classroom. Stay in communication with their teachers and support them when they are instilling discipline and physical training. Always come to observation time when offered by the studio.
Have fun watching your child blossom in a long standing traditional art form!