I often get asked by parents if there is anything they should do to prepare for their little one’s first dance class. So I’ve put together some “Pro tips” to help make your first day of dance the best day possible. While these tips are mainly for the 2 – 6 year old, many of them ring true for a child of any age who is starting dance for their first time.
Pro Tip #1: Find out what they need to wear to class.
Most dance schools have specific dress requirements for their dance classes. Dress requirements are in place not only for safety, but to help encourage a team atmosphere. If you haven’t been provided with a list, be sure to ask the studio office. Your child’s studio should also be able to provide you with a list of preferred retailers. Tight on budget? Check out dancewear swap pages on Facebook, listings on Kijiji or ask your child’s dance school if they have used dancewear sales.
Pro Tip #2: Start talking to your child about dance and let them know their teacher’s name.
Talking to your child about when their dance class is, will help to get them ready. Children get into routines and even though they might be super excited to start dance, if they are not prepared in advance that this means missing a Saturday morning cartoon, or going straight to dance from daycare – you may get resistance. At least a week (if not more) ahead of time start talking about the day and time of their class, as well as their teacher’s name. On the day of the class remind them in the morning about what will happen after school or after daycare. Tell them their teacher’s name. This way when the day comes they’ll be ready and excited to leave daycare and go straight to dance where Miss Allison is waiting for them J
Pro Tip #3: Plan to arrive at the studio early and arrive dressed for dance if possible.
Being late can especially be tough for little ones. They may already be nervous about meeting new people and the studio environment may be new to them. By arriving early you will have time to walk around the facility, put your things away and go into the class with the rest of the dancers. Which leads into to Pro tip #4…
Pro Tip #4: Don’t stress! Even if you are late. If you’re stressed, your child will be too.
I totally understand that sometimes it can be difficult not to get stressed when you’re running late, but it’s really important that you try not to. Your little one may already be nervous about meeting new kids and being in a new environment. It’s definitely an easier transition when you’re positive and calm.
Pro Tip #5: The first day of dance can be a busy one at the studio, so be prepared!
Believe me, I know how super cute little ones look in their ballet outfits, but please try not to bring an excessive number of people with you to your child’s first class. When little ones arrive with mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, brother, and auntie to their first dance class; it can make for a really over-crowded waiting room. By not bringing an excessive number of people with you, you will not contribute to the “1st day of dance class” traffic jam. Just be prepared that the studio most likely will be a busy place on week 1. (This really ties into pro tip #3 about arriving early).
Pro Tip #6: Don’t worry if your little one won’t dance independently on their first day.
There are some little ones who have no problem jumping in independently on day 1, but there are also some children who are not so eager to let go of mom’s hand and join the group. Just know that this is totally okay. If you have a child that is a bit shyer, ask the studio office in advance what they do to help ease little dancers in. Children, especially 2 to 3 year olds, learn by watching and often need to observe before they are ready to participate. If you know your child is shy you can ask if you will be permitted to watch or participate in the class with your child for the first week. Even if your child simply observes the first class, rest assured they are learning and don’t think twice about trying again the following week. If the child is eager to come to dance class, it might be that they simply need a few weeks to ease in. If you feel your child is not yet ready to dance independently you can ask if there is a parented class option. A good rule of thumb is: if you are concerned, just ask your child’s teacher. I could write up an entire post on strategies and tips to help ease the transition to a non-parented class (any maybe I will)! Even if your child didn’t participate during their first class; still encourage your child to return the following week. If all else fails, ask the studio director for help, maybe there is another class time or class option that might work better for your child.
Pro Tip #7: Have fun!
As I’m sure you’re aware, little ones grow up so fast. Take pictures and enjoy the moment.