For many of us, another dance season is upon us. We are excited to get back into the studio and impact the lives of children like no other experience allows. As you are preparing to go back to dance, it’s important to take a moment and reflect on the young dancer experience.
Are they ready?
Even if your students aren’t new to your studio, they are more than likely coming back after a break. Whether your studio was closed for a few weeks after summer camp or they took the summer off, you want to welcome them back as if they are brand new to your school. After all, they are at a new developmental stage, entering into a new class level with new dancemates, and may even have a new teacher or be in a different studio than they were before. As you can imagine, these changes can bring on many emotions to a young child.
Offering an open house, uniform fitting night, or just encouraging them to come into the space while your performance team is rehearsing, will re-introduce them to you, the studio, and, if possible, their teacher. This will help prepare them to walk confidently into their first day of dance class with most of their jitters at ease.
Now, let’s shift our focus to the caregivers.
Preparing and educating the caregivers should take top priority when it comes to teaching the developing child. After all, they are responsible for preparing the child for dance class at home, while traveling to the studio, and while waiting for class to begin. Educating them on the importance of meeting their child’s needs, how to encourage them on their first day, and what to expect once they arrive will help the new season experience flow with greater ease.
Communication here is key. Through your social media platforms, email blasts, studio app, or any other mode of communication you use with your studio families, be sure information is current, accurate, and sent often. With back to dance also comes back to school and everyone is on information overload. Be clear, concise, and remember that caregivers process information just like their children, through multiple learning styles. Create captivating visuals, videos, and other creative forms of communication to catch their attention and get them excited for the new dance season!
The success of the first day of dance class sets the tone for how the following weeks will occur. On the first day of class, arrive early, prepare your space, have your playlist and props ready and accessible, take a huge deep breath, and smile. If things don’t go as planned, which they won’t always, remember that many times it’s the unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves and our students that lead to disappointment. Reevaluate and try again.
Here’s to another amazing year of early childhood dance education!
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.