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Tips for a Successful First Day of Dance

by Bethany Elias

We all get “first day jitters!” Here are some tips to help your young dancer have a successful first day of dance:

· Arrive at the studio 5-10 minutes early to allow time to find the studio, get shoes on, go to the bathroom, and get acquainted. (Don’t arrive too early, however. You don’t want your dancer to be tired, bored, or overwhelmed with nerves while waiting.)

· Take your dancer to the bathroom BEFORE class! Leaving class in the middle to use the bathroom is very disruptive to the other dancers as well as the learning plan of the teachers. Getting rid of this distraction before class is SUPER helpful in having a successful day at the studio.

· If you need to buy new dancewear, do so BEFORE class begins. We do sell all necessary dancewear (shoes, tights, leotards, etc…) at the studio for your convenience. If you need to purchase new dancewear or get fitted for shoes, please arrive 15-20 minutes before class begins. Arriving late, rushing through the process of dancewear purchasing, and rushing into the first class is stressful for all involved, especially the dancer.

· Make sure your dancer has eaten before class. Being hungry or thirsty during dance class makes it hard for young dancers to concentrate and enjoy class.

· Make sure you, as a parent or caregiver, are relaxed! Kids sense stress and their nerves will grow.

What to expect the first day of dance class:

· You and your dancer will check in at the front desk when you arrive.

· Dancers will remain in the lobby until class time.

· Once class begins, the teacher will invite the dancers into the studio. Parents must remain in the lobby but may observe class through the viewing windows. The dancers will sit down while the teacher introduces herself, learns their names, and goes over class expectations.

· Dancers will then stretch and warm up on the floor, dance standing up, and then do across-the-floor traveling movements. Dancers often end class with a “free dance” time. “Free dance” allows for individual creativity, confidence in movement, interest in musicality, play with dynamics, character development, and more. It may look like they are just playing around, but these guided activities do wonders for the dancers’ development!

· At the end of class, young dancers will receive a sticker and will line up at the door to be dismissed back to the parents in the lobby!

How do I know if my young dancer is ready for dance class?

There are really just two determining factors to tell if your dancer is ready to try dance class. (This list applies to dancers in the classes for ages 3+; we know that the younger toddler dancers in “Dancer & Me” classes are still working on these things! That’s why the parent or caregiver is in the room with them.)

For dancers going by themselves into a class ages 3+, here are the 2 things they must be able to do:

1. Dancers must be potty trained.

2. Dancers must be able to answer to his/her name and follow directions, generally.

If your dancer is unable to meet these requirements yet, it would probably be best to wait a month or two before joining a class.

What do I do if my dancer has separation anxiety and doesn’t want to go into class?

It is perfectly normal for some dancers to be nervous about going into the studio. Our teachers are well-educated, experienced, and equipped to help in these situations. We have strategies and tricks to get dancers to join into the class.

Sometimes, however, the teacher (who is ultimately responsible for teaching dance to the entire class of students) might need to send the child back out to you in the lobby to help to console them. Don’t worry if this happens to your dancer! Try to help console them and encourage them to try again. Please do NOT speak loudly inside the studio or interrupt the class to yell to your dancer. The teachers work very hard to gain the attention of all dancers. If parents are opening the door or yelling out to their dancer, a chain reaction begins and a portion of class is wasted.

It might take a few weeks for children to feel comfortable and confident enough to join class. Even if they are only watching the first week, they are often observing and gaining the knowledge and confidence they need to know what to expect the next time. Some of our best company dancers who are now at the studio almost every day and LOVE dancing were once too scared to enter the studio. Being patient instead of angry while the child acclimates to the studio is often helpful!

Children need to learn how to behave in dance class. It takes time, so please be patient and trust your teacher!

What can I do at home to help make a successful first dance experience for my dancer?

· Set expectations! Tell your dancer what’s going to happen. Remind them that they will be going into class on their own and that parents can watch through the viewing windows.

· Encouragement and positivity from you will help! Pump your dancer up about how much fun they are going to have and how much they are going to learn. We have a phenomenal group of warm, nurturing, and talented teachers that will love working with your children!

We wish you all a fantastic first day of dance class and we are so happy you’ll be joining us at NGSB!

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