In the studio, our tiny dancers need special care. The main goal of the teacher and studio should be to foster a love of dance while teaching safe classes with age and developmentally appropriate curriculum. It is so important for our dancers who are 2-5 years old to be set up for success so they will have a positive experience. Here my 10 tips to help ensure these VIPs have a positive future in the studio.
It’s so important for your little dancers to come to class rested and fed, this way they will be in good spirits and ready for fun!
Dancers should use the potty at the dance studio before class. Encourage parent’s not ask if the dancer needs to potty…just take them. This will help stop the potty parade during class time.
Stress the importance of being on time for class. Many children are uncomfortable entering a class that is already underway.
If the little dancer is crying don’t have the parent bring her into the dance room. Let her watch from the window or the monitor and let her choose to go in on her own. If you start the bad habit of parents staying in the dance room it will take much longer for her to gain her independence.
Welcome transitional objects (such as a favorite stuffed animal) in class if needed. You can get creative and integrate them into the class lesson plan and the child can use it for comfort while the parent is not in the same room.
Use sticker charts. Each time a dancer successfully comes in and participates in class he or she earns a sticker. When the chart is full they get a visit to the prize box.
Don’t have the music too loud, the teacher should not have to shout over the music to communicate with the class. If the music or teacher is too loud some dancers may be intimidated.
Take the time to learn their names and to help them remember your name. You should know all their names by the second week in class and you should say each dancer’s name at least 3 times during the class. If you need help remebering their names have name tags ready before class.
Set your class up for success. Have a lesson plan, music ready, props ready. Taking time in class to get yourself together means downtime in class. Downtime equals little dancers who are not engaged, bored and looking for ways to entertain themselves.
Above all practice patience. Help the parent understand that it may take a few weeks before you can tell if the dancer is ready for class or not. Don’t give up the first, second or even third time the dancer refuses to go into class or stay in class. I have seen little ones finally come in a participate after 6 or even 8 weeks of classes.
Keep in mind that children have their own pace at which they become ready for a classroom environment. A trained teacher should be able to let a parent know if their child should wait to start class, based on his or her natural participation in class. It is very common for a young dancer to wait a few months before starting class to ensure he or she is going to be ready. I have found great success in starting a child at the RIGHT time. The students who are not quite ready for class come back in a couple of months and have a positive dance experience. At such a young age, every month makes such a big difference.
Communicate and connect with the parents so they won’t be offended if you need to tell them their child may not be ready. Let the parent know you truly want what is best for the child’s dance experience.
After all… timing is everything!!