Thinking of getting your kid enrolled in a dance studio? We know it isn’t always an easy decision! Besides being a big investment in time and money, the right studio can make or break your child’s passion for dance. So many factors go into the decision that it can be pretty overwhelming just to think about! That’s why we’ve put together a collection of helpful tips and ideas to consider when picking the perfect studio for your little dancer. Before we get started, here’s a list of questions you need to ask yourself and your child to get your thoughts turning.
- What kind of experience do you want for your child?
- What dance styles is your child interested in?
- Are they interested in performing?
- Do you and your dancer mind traveling or want something closer?
- Are you interested in special programming and events outside of classes?
Think about what you and your dancer want
One of the most important factors when choosing a dance studio is thinking about what your child is looking for with dance. Are they interested in something collaborative, where they can be a part of a larger production, make friends, and learn how to succeed at group activities? Do they want to learn ballet specifically, or are they interested in branching out into something newer and flashier? Are they competitive and solo-minded in their interests? For instance, are they more interested in a larger production, collaborative dance, or do they prefer being the star of the show?
There are plenty of studios out there with a focus on different styles! For example, if your little one loves to perform and wants to be onstage, try finding a studio that incorporates musical theatre productions into their yearly schedule in addition to recitals, or one where solo competitions are encouraged.
A child’s temperament will tell you a lot about what type of dance studio will be appropriate for them, whether you’re trying to build on their strengths or teach them new ways to learn and work with others. Do you think that they would thrive in a more formal, disciplined environment with dress codes and stricter lessons? Or do you suppose that your child desires a less restrictive, community-driven learning space with a more improvisational style of instruction?
Many studios offer recreational dance classes in addition to their training programs. These classes are perfect for kids wanting to try dance out but aren’t sure how much they want to commit to or if they want to stick with dance. Every child is different, and there is no universal “right” answer, just whatever is best suited for your kiddo.
Do your research
We are living in the golden age of the internet, and most dance studios have websites full of performance videos, sample instructions, lesson plans, and information about their various programs readily available. Take advantage of the great wealth of knowledge at your fingertips and do a little web-sleuthing to get an idea of what options are out there.
Look into the studio’s social media and schedule to get a sense of what it would be like to attend. Is there a strong studio culture? You may find that they have lots of community events or fundraising, which may be something you’re interested in. Alternatively, you might want something that’s more focused on classes instead of additional programming. Ultimately, it is up to what you think will work best for you and your dancer.
See how many performances, competitions, or conventions the studio participates in each year. This will help you get a sense of how much time your dancer will be spending in the studio, and how much of a financial commitment you’ll need to make to participate. More performances and competitions mean more rehearsals, so it’s important to think about how many hours you’re willing to give to dance each week.
It’s never a bad thing to look at the studio faculty to see who your child would be working with each week! How much experience do they have? What kind of experience is it? Do they offer a unique style or are they very technique based? Do they have educational or performance backgrounds? These are all good questions to think about when doing your research and finding the best fit for your child.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out the studio’s tiny tots or younger dancer programs. Some studios offer these classes for even the tiniest of dancers (3 years old!), while some studios prefer to have older children in the classroom.
Try observing and sampling classes
Many studios offer the opportunity for interested parents to sit in on an introductory class, tour the facility, and meet with instructors face to face. These are all great ways of informing yourself about the style and quality of the studios in which you are interested. You might not want to sit in on every class with your kid, that can get distracting and overbearing. But it’s perfectly appropriate to sit in on any sample classes that are available, or to check out an early class or two until your little one gets adjusted to the new situation.
If you have a partner, speak with them about your respective observations and impressions. Two heads are better than one and maybe there are hidden merits or potential problems that you might have missed. You want your kid to learn, and so you should expect them to be challenged and pushed. However, it’s important that the faculty are reputable people who produce positive results with their instruction. Try to remind yourself that the idea is to work hard and practice to hone and develop skills.
Think about the program structure you want for your dancer
Are you looking for a studio with clear development goals, regular progress reports, and an eye towards recitals? Many parents want to see their children perform, not just to bask in the glow of their little one’s development but also to know that their investment of time and money is a good one.
It’s important for your child to have a creative outlet with an audience too! Check with the studio and see how their curriculum fits into your expectations. First and most importantly, make sure that the studio you pick out works best for your child’s needs. After that, it’s okay to consider what you want from the experience as well.. you’re a part of the team too 🙂
Connect with other dance parents
One of the best resources out there for parents is…other parents! People with children who are interested in dance or who are enrolled in dance classes often participate through observation and will likely form supportive groups with other parents to help with logistics like ridesharing.
Finding a group of parents who are supporting their children’s dance pursuits is like finding a goldmine for information. Talk to other people with similarly-aged kids and see what they have to say about the various classes and studios available in your area. This brings us to our next topic…
Establish how far you’re willing to travel
Let’s face it, everyone is busy these days, and that goes double for people with kids and careers. Look for what is available within a comfortable distance from your house and in the scope of your weekly routine. Check out online resources to read reviews and feedback about the studios in your area and see if the faculty at those studios come recommended with good references and history.