Educating dance families is just as important as educating our dance students. By including families in their child’s dance education journey, dance evolves from a once a week activity to an integral part of their families’ everyday lives. Dance parties become a normal occurrence. Creative alternatives to ordinary living (i.e. skipping down the hall instead of walking, brushing teeth while balancing on one leg, etc) create laughter and memories that last a lifetime. And, the importance of dance in a child’s life is understood and celebrated. Even if their child’s path doesn’t lead them to the professional stage, the seed of appreciation for the arts has been planted. In turn, these families support the arts by attending the annual Nutcracker in their community, recommending your dance studio to their neighbors, and, perhaps, leading them to pursue a career in arts education themselves.
Over the years, I have communicated with my dance families in many ways to educate them alongside their children. Through class newsletters, handouts, videos, and face to face interactions, I create a multi-sensory learning experience in and out of the studio. If you’re not already being intentional with educating your dance families, here are some ideas to get you started.
Class newsletters go beyond the studio newsletters with important dates and event information. These are specific to the classes you are offering. Pull information directly from your curriculum to create a class newsletter to educate your dance families on what their child is learning in class. Depending on how you run your classes, you can release these by session, season, or monthly. With my conceptual curriculum, I have a newsletter for each concept we explore. Inside the class newsletter, I include the concept we are exploring, how that concept relates to child development, how that concept relates to dance education, activities for at-home exploring, reflection questions, vocabulary review, and a “did you know?” section where I share important information on our classes and/or child development.
These are our teaching materials that reinforce our class goals, while at the same time educating our dance families. I pass out coloring pages based on the concept we are exploring or dance vocabulary we are working on. Dance maps or skills checklists show caregivers our class goals and track our progress. When caregivers join us for observation week, I have a checklist for them to fill out as they watch our class. These not only keep them engaged, but also educates them about our class.
Some of us loved having a closed lobby so much during the pandemic that we never opened them again. I get it! However, we deserve credit, respect, and appreciation as artists, educators, and business owners. The only way that is going to happen is if we teach everyone who walks through our studio doors the importance of dance education in their child’s life. We can’t do that if we don’t connect. So, open your lobby, invite your families inside, and connect with them.
Now that our lobbies are open and since we have created all these beautiful resources, we might as well show them off! Creating a bulletin board or display in your lobby to share your class newsletters and handouts serves many purposes. Your dance families see the clear objectives of your classes every time they enter the lobby. Your older students can revisit the information as a review. And, new families who visit your studio will see what they can expect from their child’s dance education. We are planting the seed before they even register.
Weekly Wrap Up Reels
As you're wrapping up your morning classes, hit record (or go live on social for bonus points) and do a quick summary of what you are doing that week in class. Take the class newsletter information that you already have and present it through video.
Here’s a sample script:
Hi Dance families, Mrs. Andrea here and we are having so much fun learning about the concept of PLACE this week in our classes. We are discovering our bubble of personal space called our kinesphere. Throughout the next few weeks, we will be exploring all the amazing ways our bodies can move on our spot and all around. Ask your dancer if they like moving on their spot like a flower or all around like a butterfly. Don’t forget to color your concept coloring page. There are some reflection questions and at home exploration activities to keep the learning going. Until next dance class, happy exploring!
Short and sweet, but another opportunity to share and educate. Not to mention, if you are posting on your social media pages, prospective families will see what you are all about as well.
As we enter the new year, I encourage you to choose at least one of these ideas, or a new idea that sparked from this post, and start educating your dance families. I would love to hear your next steps. Comment below and let’s keep the conversation going.
Andrea Trench is dedicated to helping dance teachers create and deliver content that is research-based and developmentally appropriate for children under the age of 6. Her primary focus is classroom management, conceptual teaching, and foundational movement skill development in early childhood dance education. In addition, Andrea uses her 12 years of experience as a partner in a dance studio to inspire, equip, and empower educators.