What to expect at your first dance class
You've signed up your little one for dance class! Now what? If this is your child's first away from home or structured activity, you may not know what to expect or what is "normal" for a child's first day of class.
As teachers, we are also very excited to welcome your little one to our dance program. We look forward to seeing all of the beautiful little dancers dressed in their dance clothes and ready to move!
Right from the start, it is completely normal for a young dancer to feel timid or shy as they come into the studio for the first time. Some children run right in, other children need time to adjust. Everything to them is new and separation anxiety is one of the most common concerns on the first day.
You may overcome this by explaining to your child before they arrive that mommy (or daddy or caregiver) will watch them through the window during the class and that mommy (or daddy) won’t leave. Watching virtually may also be an option that can be explained to your child. If you are unsure of the viewing area options, ask before you arrive
If you feel your child needs you in the room with them, speak with the owner, director or teacher before your class to learn the studio's guidelines on parents in the classroom. Most dance classes are designed as a teacher/child class. Many studio's policy is that all parents need to be in the lobby or parking lot when class is in session. Teachers also may need to keep the door to the studio closed during class, in order to avoid any wandering dancers. At UCPA, we will work with you and your child to achieve success in bringing happy dancers into the classroom without their grownup. This is a gradual process for some young children. Having a conversation about your child's needs is essential. In our experience, most of the time our little dancers come into the room right away and never look back. Sometimes our little dancers aren’t ready for a teacher/child class. As parents and educators, we won’t know until we try. Please remember that it sometimes takes a few weeks in order for the child to warm up to the idea, even if they LOVE to dance. It is Ok for a child to observe class for a few weeks or participate in only a few of the activities. As they make friends and become comfortable with the grown-ups teaching the class, participation will increase. Don't be surprised if your child re-enacts their dance class at home - even if they observed!
How Can I Best Prepare My Dancer for Class
Dress for class
Looking the part helps with participation. Wearing a leotard and tights with ballet shoes or leotard with bare feet helps children feel part of class. They may not want to participate because they are not wearing their "princess" dress at class and see the other children in with skirted leotards.
Arrive 10-15 minutes early especially if your child hasn't met their teacher or seen the studio yet. If the teacher is in another class, they will greet you as soon as possible. There also may be paperwork or an orientation packet for you to pick up at the front desk. Arriving early helps your child settle into their environment and maybe peek into a class before their class begins.
Talk about it at home
The more you talk about it the better. Ask your child what they hope to do in class. Explain that there is a a teacher who will help them with dancing in class and there may also be times for them dance however they want! We should also be talking to them about classroom behavior (e.g. listening to their teacher, taking turns with other dancers, etc.). One of the biggest things our young dancers learn isn't even dance related. We teach our young dancers basic social and classroom skills to help prepare them for pre-school and kindergarten.
Come to class on a consistent basis!
Consistency is key at a young age. The more they are able to keep their weekly schedule, the better they will do in class.
Be on time to class!
After your first visit, continue to arrive a few minutes early. We realize that sometimes things happen that may cause delays in getting to class, however, being on time is HUGE! Having them be there from the time the teacher calls them in, takes roll and gets class started helps in setting their expectations and behaviors for class. When a dancer is late, they lose those first moments of preparation which can impact their entire class and their behavior.
Final consideration: My dancer wanders off during class, and isn't always paying attention? Is this normal? How should I handle it?
. This is why we offer structured classes that move from activity to activity. . Changing activities throughout classes helps to keep our young dancers engaged. However, it is completely normal for them to become distracted, or wander during portions of class.
There are many things that can alter how our dancers participate. Lack of sleep, hunger, injury, etc. Everything has an impact. Our teachers will work to ensure our dancers stay as engaged as possible. Parents should refrain from entering the classroom, or tapping on the the viewing windows, to try and help your dancer as this is just another distraction, not only to them, but also to the entire class.
Relax and leave your dancer to have fun and learn with us knowing that we are totally dedicated for the safety of our students and a quality dance experience! Celebrate your child's reward sticker or stamp. Encourage your dancer to share what the learned. Let them know how proud of them you are! Most of all, enjoy this time while they are still little!