FIRST TIME DANCERS
"The most overwhelming key to a child's success is the positive involvement of parents." - Jane Dee Hull
Getting started with class for the first time...
First of all, BRAVO for signing your young child up for dance. In case you didn't know, there are tons of benefits that stretch far beyond their 45 minutes in the studio (here are a few.)
Introducing your child to a structured activity for the first time can be a challenging but wonderful time. While your child may LOVE dancing to music at home, dancing in a class is a whole other experience. Most Little Beats dance classes require grown-up involvement so expect to have a caregiver participate WITH your little one. Not only will this help them thrive, but it will also help you understand what they're learning and practice at home!
It is important to remember that ages 0-4 is a time of rapid growth and the goal of classes at this age to build confidence, gross motor skills, social skills, listening skills, and of course, make wonderfully HAPPY memories in the studio. Don't be discouraged if your child has trouble adjusting to the dance class setting, it can take some time but you will be amazed at the progress your child will make each week.
As your child grows, we are here to provide and guide you through the best dance track for your child whether he/she is bound for a competitive dance program, a fun extracurricular outlet, or if we're figuring it out as we go!
Here are some tips to help prepare you for your first Little Beats class:
1. Talk about class outside of class
The more you can expose your child to dance before they get to class, the more excited and mentally prepared they will be when it finally comes time to go. Reading dance books and dancing at home is all GREAT. But don't forget to mention the details of being in a dance class. All great dancers do a lot more than just show up to a stage and dance. They go to dance class where there are other friends to play with, they learn how to have strong bodies and brains, they have teachers who love them, they have super good 'listening ears' so they can get stickers at the end of class. All these little details help build excitement around the experience.
2. It takes a few classes to get acclimated
Depending on your child's personality and former experiences in group class settings, your little one might be literally taken aback by the experience of day 1 at dance class. There are lots of people in the room, loud music, and movements being done that they've never seen or done before. Not to mention, they may be asked to step into the spotlight (with you) during some parts of class. This can be scary for a little one so if it takes a few weeks for them to build up the confidence to participate, that is OK! Just keep cheering them on and showing them by example that dance class is a safe, fun place to be. We NEVER want to force them into any activity. Even if they cling to you and observe all class, they are sill learning in their own way.
3. For your child's sake, please arrive to dance class 5 minutes early
Believe it or not, arriving on time is a key way to get your child started on the right foot each week. When children arrive to class late, they do not get to experiene of being greeted at the door by their teacher and properly transitioning into class. Furthermore, walking into a class that has already begun can be quite uncomfortable as it forces them to 'jump right in' to a situation that they have not yet acclimiated to. For some little ones, this can set a challenging tone for the entire class and can be easily avoided.
4. Show by example and focus on your child
We know attending class with your little one is a great way to spend some time with your grown-up friends too but PLEASE save chatter for before and after class. Don't give into peer pressure! Believe me, this can be a real thing and it's distracting to both the teacher and the kids! In the dance studio setting, the phrase 'monkey see monkey do' truly comes to light. In a grown-up-and-me class, you play a crucial role in helping your child learn. Not only should you be following the teacher's instruction with your child, but you should also set a good example by showing you are engaged. Depending on the age, developmental stage, and learning style of the child, there may be times when you will need to manipulate their body for them to give their muscles an understanding of what to do. Showing by example also means re-engaging your child when their attention drifts and redirecting negative behavior. Of course, no cell phone use in class and big smiles!
5. Don't be afraid to use breaks to 'reset' during class
Some children enter the dance studio filled with more excitement than they can contain. They might try to run around the room, and before they learn the concept of listening and waiting turns, they will be fully dependent on you to keep them focused on the activity at hand. We must teach the little ones what behavior is and isn't safe or acceptable in the studio. If they do not want to participate in what the group is doing, they are welcome to take a break until they are ready to join back in. This is perfectly OK! This is how we teach them positive classroom behavior which will help them in and out of the studio.
6. Positive reinforcement is EVERYTHING
In our youngest dance classes, building confidence is the key to happy dancers. In this unique time of education, we are teaching how to be a student just as much as we are teaching skills and the progress week to week is amazing! So please join us in applauding good work and celebrating all the little successes that a child has during class. At the end of class, the children take a bow and collect a sticker for a job well done. We make it a point to ALWAYS part ways in a positive manner, eagerly awaiting our next class together.
Even if you are not sure if your child is destined for an intensive dance future, their experience learning, growing, and having positive memories in class will be invaluable for their development no matter what activity they persue. The Dance Academy appreciates your commitment to making our class as successful as possible for your child and can't wait to dance with you!
To dancing through life,
Emily Siagel Jabbawy