You have finally got an addition to the family, the beautiful baby you love more than anything. You already dream of their perfect, successful future and you are ready to do anything for your dreams to come true. Let me say it again: your dreams. “I have been dreaming of becoming a dancer my whole life, but never had a chance; now I finally have a daughter and my dream shall become hers, forming her future according to my plans” is what we’re trying to avoid here. A three-year-old, who simply enjoys bopping dressed in a flashy costume, cannot commit themselves to a profession yet. They just like to dance. And you should know quite well that everyone likes to dance, but does everyone become a professional dancer?
The criteria for professional dancers are becoming stricter and more rigorous with every coming year, even though they were never easy to meet in the first place. Then, how can you tell whether your child needs a step into dance career or would be better off dancing as a hobby? How to choose institutions and tutors depending on the choice? And is it even worth all the effort?
3 to 6 years old
Let us start from the very beginning. Your little treasure dances happily every time they hear any music and you get hold of the idea they should take up dancing in a more serious way. It is a good idea! But let me just give some advice for this case.
- Try to find a dance school close to your home so the kid doesn’t get tired while still on the way.
- Look for a teacher who loves children. It is crucial for this age because an uncompromising and merciless approach could discourage your child for life. Alternatively, if the mentor is simply polite, but disinterested, kids would soon lose interest too.
- The genre of dance the kid is taking up at this age makes little difference. Most basic-skill schools offer education through games, easy and painless stretching techniques, general physical education and eurhythmics. If there is anything like ballet barre or headstand on the school’s teaching programme, find another one as soon as possible.
- Make sure the institution you’re taking your child to is clean and sophisticated. Surroundings influence children’s taste and affect their mood.
- Do not overdo with the amount of performances. If you make your child perform too often, they would start experiencing harsh competition before they feel the love of the audience, which could kill their motivation.
- Ensure that the teaching methods are well adapted to physical and psychological abilities of children. An experienced mentor should not come yelling and asking for impossible from your kid.
6 to 8 years old
Let talk about the case in which your little one’s still enjoying dancing and is making some decent progress. The dance teacher would probably let you know, but do not forget that no one knows your child better than you. If the class is making further progress suitable for your child, you can stay there. However, if you can see that the pace is too slow, it means the time has come to change the school. It is true that such change might appear stressful for both you and the child in terms of schedule and transfer ways, but it’s a simply necessary measure.
What about if your kid is already six and hasn’t even started, but you are still dreaming of their successful dancing career? Everything aforementioned is still relevant, but now you have no time to get attached to location. Even if a decent school is far from your home, do your best to take your kid there anyway.
At this point, there isn’t much time left until you understand whether or not they should keep dancing; the discipline becomes stricter and the amount of physical activity increases. Help your little one by adjusting them to dancing as a part of their routine. Don’t be afraid to try out different schools and different classes as it is important to find The One that will suit your kid’s character and psyche. The attitude of the mentor remains important for their will to continue and make efforts, so don’t forget to see to that as well.
8 to 9 years old
If you have survived the troubles of the beginning stages, it’s time to move on to the next one. Around this age, your child can already decide for themselves what kind of dance they like more. Your job here is to show them the “menu”. Approach them for a discussion; use some time (for example, a school vacation) to try new genres at different schools. When you have finally set your mind on something specific, use the following couple of years to make the final decision. And this is when some new factors should be considered.
- Natural ability. Some dance genres (e.g. ballet, jazz, modern) require specific physical abilities in order to progress effectively while also staying healthy. Ballet is especially demanding in this regard with its high standards for hyper rotation, spinal flexibility and feet condition. A skilled teacher can always test a child for such dispositions and honestly tell if they don’t have those. Otherwise, the kid would only be left with unfulfilled expectations and damaged health in the future.
- The desire to grow. Your child should be sincerely enjoying the activity to go on. They could practice at home, watch videos, or maybe even find a role model. Anything to keep them encouraged.
- Knowing what they want. Ask your child why they want to dance, where and how they want it. Then you will know better what to aim at and where to direct the effort, time and funds.
10 to 11 years old
The time has come for you to try to understand where all the effort had brought you. This period is the elimination point. Some decide to keep the kid practicing as a hobby, taking them to the nearest decent dance school; and some are confronted by the kid’s firm determination of “I want to dance like that when I grow up”. The latter often goes as far as sacrificing time with friends for dancing. They’d want dance equipment as birthday presents and dream of beautiful costumes, performances and solos. If this might ever be your case, I shall congratulate you. Your kid now wants to take up dancing professionally and your life is about to change forever.
Professional dancing is hard and stressful; it takes a lot of money, effort and time. But in the end, it’s all worth it. Dance is a whole new world with its own laws, traditions, history, and ethics. Your child is still to learn all of it along with the specific physical attributes. As a parent, you will need to learn the theoretical part too for two reasons: to keep in touch with your child and to be able to help effectively when they need it. And obviously, finding the right institution and mentor is the most important.
Each area of dance has its own leader schools. Here’s a list of what you need to know before signing up your kid to one of them.
- The school’s history, the information about its students and graduates.
- The school’s and the teachers’ credentials.
- The school’s achievements in contests and other events.
- The system and the methodic the school is using.
- The strategic development plan your school has to offer for your kid.
- The conditions and environment in which the kids study. This point is crucial for the child’s wellbeing, so you should make sure that the classrooms have proper ventilation and air conditioning as well as high-quality flooring.
- Accreditation and certification offers.
- The school’s reputation among similar institutions, both around the country and internationally.
All of the above does sound like a great deal of work and research, but do not forget that you only have one chance and your kid only has one healthy youth.