We’ve all reached that moment when our toddler is active and moving at the speed of lighting. It’s then that we decide that it’s time to put them in some form of organized environment. The choices varies from Tots Time, to Tumbling and mini gymnastics. But as they get a little older, we tend, especially if they are girls to place them in the neighborhood dance studio. With this decision comes other issues, you must consider for your child and yourself. Here are a few examples;
- FIRST IMPRESSIONS: When you walk into the studio what kind of atmosphere do you detect. Is it clean, is it bright, are the students bursting with energy, do the teachers look happy and engaged, are there parents milling around, is the owner/director present. Do you get the impression of an organized-run studio?
- OWNER INVOLVEMENT: Do you like the owner. After you have met the owner, do you feel comfortable, did you feel welcomed and accepted as a new client with questions and concern. What’s the owners’ reason for starting a dance school? Is it to make money, for tax purposes or a passion for dance and the students? Do you like their reason or not?
- WHAT’S UNDER THEIR FEET: Wood Flooring is by far the best for dancers as it reduces injuries. Anything else needs to be looked at skeptically. Tile flooring or concrete flooring can lead to a much greater likelihood of injuries occurring. Enquire as to what kind of flooring they have installed in the studios.
- WORD IS OUT: Have they been in the community long enough to have a reputation? Consider what people are saying about them. Don’t be afraid to mention the name of the school to friends, coworkers, and church members to see what they have to say. You may get some important insights!
- SCHOOL POLICIES: Do their mission statement and organization structure coincide with each other. Are they promoting one type of dance training yet has different teachers teaching different styles. Do you have a preference for a specific style?
- CLASS TIME: What type of teaching style do the teachers possess? Are they a tyrant expecting complete obedience at a young age? Or are they more lenient and easy going, creating a fun and relaxed class? What style would you prefer or is it all tide to the end results? Which do you prefer and can accept. Knowing your child mood and character, in which environment will your child excel at their highest potential?
- UNIFORMS OR NOT: Do you have a preference for a uniformed class, where all students are dressed alike with no competition between them. Does it show any more or less discipline if the dress code is reinforced or not.
- THE WAITING HALL: Invite a conversation with veteran parents and get a more in-depth idea of the school and its system. Listen to what other parent’s likes and dislikes are, then judge for yourself if it’s a valid issue or not.
- PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT: Are parents encouraged to be involved with school activities such as fundraising and assisting with end of year recital and competitions. Do they have an active PTO group in place? Find out what their mission for the studio and the students are.
- FINANCIAL INVESTMENT: Be aware that as your child grows and starts adding more classes to their weekly schedule, that this will also incur an increase in their fees. Not only that, but at the end of the year there are recitals fees and costumes to be paid additionally. Some schools have recital fees others don’t. Some schools expect parents to pay for the recital tickets above and beyond all the extra cost. Check with your parent handbook guide for this information before committing.
- PROCESS & SYSTEMS: Is there a formalized structure or do teachers have freedom to teach as they see fit? Do you see a synchronized teaching style throughout the studio? With which of these approaches are you more comfortable? Which one is more appropriate for your child’s learning style?
- PROGRESS REPORT: How do they decide which child progresses to the next level and are these procedures clear to you? Are you alright with a verbal meeting or would you prefer an examination style process. Do you trust your teachers enough to let them make the best possible judgment according to their experiences?
- THE BIG PICTURE: Some dance schools elevate Ballet or Hip Hop, while others may elevate Tap dancing. Does your child’s interest align with the studio’s focus?
- WHOSE ON FIRST……: Are most classes taught by professional instructors or are most taught by students from the older classes? Are the teacher’s passionate about the classes they are teaching, or are they just teaching it out of obligation? Do you see the students connect with the teacher not only during class but after as well?
- TO COMPETE OR NOT COMPETE: Studios that focus on competitions will generally have a big display case containing many trophies and ribbons. Other studios may focus on seasonal recital performances and/or performances in the community. Some may be more focused in creating professional dancers early on and do not participate either in competitions or recitals but expect daily classes. Each approach takes up lots of time and finances. Investigate this before committing.
- SUMMER CAMPS AND FESTIVALS: Should your child attend summer classes at their own studio or are they encouraged to try other studios and seminars. Sometimes a change of venue is helpful for the student. They return to their own studio refreshed and renewed with new inspiration. As long as they attend a reputable school with sound technique training, if not it will hinder the student’s progress when they return to their own studio.
Welcome to our world of dance!