Dance Studio 101 - How to Choose a Dance Studio for Your Child

Dear Dance Moms:

Before you choose a dance studio, it helps to do some research. Most studios out there have exceptionally qualified teachers with a strong passion for the Art of Dance, but that doesn't mean they're all created equally. In fact, based on my experience, there are four questions you should always ask before enrolling your child in a new dance studio.

These four hallmarks can make a huge difference in the overall quality of instruction, the facility itself and your child's experience:

1. Their Choice of Dance, Costumes and Music

Kids are kids, so let's keep them that way. Parading a group of 7-year-olds out on stage to 'Fever,' dressing them up in immodest leotards and getting them to run through a lewd or suggestive choreography is never appropriate. Unfortunately, it's a growing trend.

If you have concerns about a studio's family values, make sure you ask first. Inquire about their school policies and what, if any, complaints they've had from parents.

2. Class Sizes

The smaller the class, the more personal attention each student receives, plain and simple. Some large classes will have multiple instructors and this, of course, works well too. Smaller class sizes also mean a teacher has greater control and is better able to monitor a student's progress. So, before you enroll your child in a new dance studio, ask:

- If we miss a class is there a make-up class available on a different day?

- Approximately how many participate in each class?

- Do the limits change for every age group?

- How often do classes fill up?

- Can you start and stop the class at any time? (like if you want to take the summer off for swim lessons)

3. Parental Involvement

Some studios forbid parents from watching class, others encourage it. On one hand, it lets parents become more involved with the process, but on the other hand, it can be a distraction to students. If watching your child is important to you, make sure you clarify these rules before you enroll.

Also, get a firm understanding for what's expected of you as a parent. Some studios require parents to sew, sell tickets or take part in fund-raising events. Other schools are very hands-off.

Before you enroll, make sure you understand what's expected of you. Check to see if that matches up with your own expectations. All studios are different in both strengths and weaknesses.

4. Performance Opportunities

Enrolling in dance classes is more than teaching your child new skills, it's about helping them develop:

- self esteem

- hand-eye coordination

- rhythm

- physical activity

As long as the children get to "show off" what they have learned in the end, they look forward to that like a light and the end of the tunnel. Whether it is on a big stage or in a classroom, they really look forward to those minutes in the "spotlight."

Your job as the parent is to give them the praise and applause they worked so hard for no matter how the performance was. In the end, it needs to be a totally positive experience.

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