Regular practice can help a dancer to progress in their training with confidence and encourage them to continue, especially if there’s a new step that feels particularly challenging. While older and experienced dancers may know just what they need to do at home, younger and less experienced dancers might not. Here’s some tips for parents on how to help your child practice dance at home.
- Time: With younger children, keep practice time short, ideally under 15 minutes. This keeps them engaged and motivated to practice.
- Equipment: Although mirrors are helpful, they are not needed. Don’t get caught up on not having a “dance studio-like-space”. But, do be aware of your flooring. Watch for tripping or slipping hazards. Abrasive surfaces like carpet can injure joints with repeated turning. Turning positions can be held in a balance instead of rotating.
- Have a goal: Help your child to set a goal for the practice session. Once those items are completed, check in and see if they want to do more. Some questions you can use to help guide this process are:
- What’s something that was difficult for you last class?
- What’s something your teacher told your group to practice this week?
- How many times would you like to practice your dance today?
- Pick 1 or 2 things to focus on, don’t strive to perfect EVERYTHING in one session. You can ask your child “what does Miss Melissa always tell you to make sure you do with this step?”. Pick one or two things your child talks about and reinforce those things.
- Practice with and without music.
- Without music your child can slow down and go through steps that might be trickier.
- With music your child can practice correct timing. When it comes to choreography music can help your child with remembering the steps.
- Use tools provided by your child’s teacher. We have an online platform at our studio where music and video is shared to help dancers practice at home. The benefit of these tools is having the correct exercise music and the instructor on video explaining movements or written steps to help you guide your child’s practice.
- Compliment and encourage your child: let them know you’re proud of them for practicing (or maybe disappointed if they chose not too!). You can encourage and provide tips, but don’t over correct – stick to the basics you’ve heard the teacher encourage. For example if Miss Melissa talks in her choreography video about having sharp arms, encourage your child to do so.
- Routine is good for children and setting a specific time of day to practice might help with follow through. For example practicing their dance 2 times after supper every Monday and Wednesday.
- You don’t need to practice every day to benefit. Some children might be motivated to practice every day, but others might not. To keep them engaged and excited (not burnt out), try choosing 2 or 3 days a week to start.
- Rewards: children love visual reward systems like sticker charts. Even something simple like placing a sticker on the calendar for every day practiced can be enough motivation to get them going. Creating a reward system does not need to be complicated or stressful.
- Check in with your child’s teacher if you are completely lost, your child is frustrated or if they feel behind. Creating an individual practice plan with your child’s teacher can help.
You want your dancer to feel supported and confident. Dance should be fun, not stressful. If you’re finding practice time is stressful for you or your child, check in with your child’s teacher. They may be able to provide individualized tips or strategies to help ensure success.