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In Step With DC
How to prepare for your very first dance class!
Written by Joe Naftal on September 5, 2017

A young dancer’s first dance class is a very exciting day!  It’s an important step in their educational and social development, likely being their first classroom experience and perhaps even being one of the first times they are separated from their parents.  Some dancers may cry or be apprehensive about entering the class – know that this is okay and perfectly normal.  Young preschooler’s don’t know how to say “I’m scared to try this” – crying is how they instinctively know how to express themselves.  While some dancers do cry, others can surprise you and walk right in – every child is different.  If your child does cry, remember that the reaction is perfectly normal since this whole classroom, dancing, and teacher thing is totally new for them.  Some children take longer than others to adjust to a classroom environment. Typically within 4-6 weeks every dancer is dancing and having a blast in their dance class.

 

At Dance Connection, we believe in a process we’ve coined as “gentle transition”.  What that means is, we don’t want to take a crying child straight into the room and have them upset for the whole 30 minute or hour-long class.  We allow parents to enter with their dancer and allow them to adjust to the class together.  Then our goal is to get the parent out of the room once the dancer is comfortable.  If your dancer is anxious about you leaving, you can sit with them, but it is best to concentrate on the class – keep reinforcing how much fun all of the activities look.  Eventually, your dancer will want the same attention and start participating in the class.

 

Here are some tips from our Terrific Twos & Preschool teachers on how to best prepare for the first day of class:

Melissa Orlick, Dance Teacher

“Teach them their teacher’s name and show them their teacher’s picture on the website.”

“Every child reacts differently when starting something new, especially when leaving their parents.  Some will be happy while others will cry. If your child is upset it may take a few weeks for them to become comfortable in class, that is completely normal.”

Victoria Flick, Dance Teacher

“Bring them early to see the room and to meet and get comfortable with the teachers.”

Jenn D’Auria, Dance Teacher

“If your child is crying it doesn’t necessarily mean that they do not like dance. Give them time they will warm up.”

“When your child dances for the first time, make sure they are comfortable.  B frilly tutus are very cute but not always are they the most comfortable for every child.”

 

Donna Iaboni, Dance Teacher

“If you have a child who is crying, as hard as it might be, trust the teacher to handle it.  We understand that these are your precious babies and it’s difficult to do, but if you just trust us, we will get you both through it. “

Melinda Civitella, Studio Manager

“If your ballet shoes have ties, be sure to tuck the ties inside the ballet shoes.”

Mary Naftal, Artistic Director

“It is important to remember that every child is different.  Some walk at 9 months, others walk at 14 months – neither is wrong.  Some dancers will want to sit and watch the class at the beginning while others want to be up and moving with the class.  Both are okay – no matter what they do in the class, they are learning.”

“During ‘gentle transition’ time, it’s best if only one parent or caregiver is in the classroom with the dancer”

 

In the end, the first day of class is an amazing first step into the world of dance for your child.  Your child will meet this opportunity with excitement, inquisitiveness, anxiety, and amazement.  It is a completely new experience for them and will be an adorable, funny, and educational experience for all of the teachers and parents, too.

 

Each of our Terrific Twos and Preschool faculty members have an expansive experience in teaching dancers of this age and are happy to talk with you and answer any questions.  You should never hesitate to approach them or send them an email to ask about your child’s progress.  Everyone at Dance Connection is here to help you have the best experience possible. With our first class of the 2017-2018 season just a few days away, we’re excited to meet all of our new dancers at the studio!

 

Joe Naftal

Joe Naftal is the Marketing Director for Dance Connection. When not working at Dance Connection, Joe has a career as a theatrical lighting designer, assistant designer, and production manager. His experience spans the worlds of classical and contemporary theatre, musicals, ballet, modern dance, and opera. In addition to his work at Dance Connection, Joe collaborates with Dance Studio Owners across the country, is a member of the DanceStudioOwner.com Panel of Experts, has been featured in the business section of Dance Teacher Magazine, and was on the seminar faculty for the 2016 Dance Teacher Summit in New York City. Joe holds a BFA from UNC School of the Arts and is a proud member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).