A successful grown-up and tot program sets a strong foundation for studio growth. By drawing families to your studio before they have the opportunity to sign up for a different activity, such as a music or gym class, gives your business a head start. Before you know it, you are the go-to activity for busy toddlers.When I started teaching grown-up and tot classes over a decade ago, professional development resources were close to non-existent. I researched child development and paid extra attention in my daughter’s weekly baby music class to create a developmentally appropriate class using the best practices at the time. It was a lot of trial and error, but these classes quickly grew to become my favorite to teach. The opportunity to have children dancing, singing, and bonding with their caregivers and classmates brings great joy to all.
As I look around our morning warm-up circle I see moms, dads, nannies, aunts, grandmas, and even a grandpa every now and then. I see grown-ups that love and care deeply about their little one. I see smiling faces, hand holding, and a ton of snuggles. I see movement and music strengthening the bond of the caregiver and child. I see the joy of dance being celebrated, memories being created, and a love of moving together blooming.
Every family situation is unique and should be celebrated, therefore, our first step in creating a welcoming family environment is to choose an inclusive class name. The examples below avoid the outdated and noninclusive “Mommy and Me” that is often the popular name of these classes. Here are some options to get your creative gears cranking so you can create a class where all feel welcome from the moment they read the name of the class.
- Wiggle with Me
- Dance with Me
- Move with Me
- Movin’ with My Grown-Up
- My Grown-up and Me
- Big and Little
- Caregiver and Tot
- Grown-up and Tot
- Dancin’ with My Grown-up
- Dancin’ Tots
- Tiny Tots
- Dance Together
And, finally, once you get them in the studio, address the class appropriately. The easiest habit to build is addressing the dancers as “dancers” and grown-ups as “grown-ups”. As you greet them before class begins, you can say…
“Good morning, everyone! We are going to have so much fun together today. Grown-ups, make sure your cell phones are silenced, please keep chit chat between your dancer and other grown-ups to a minimum, and remember, if you are having fun, your dancer will also have fun. Let’s dance!”
When giving instructions say…
“Alright grown-ups, everyone on your feet” or “Time for our obstacle course! Grown-ups, please go have a seat by the wall. Dancers, show me how you sit next to your grown-up.”
I encourage you to take a look at your grown-up and tot program from the perspective of a variety of caregivers. Now is the perfect time to update your offerings so all feel welcome, included, and eager to start this exciting journey with their little one.
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.