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How do I choose a dance studio for my child?

How do I choose a dance studio for my child?

How do I choose a dance studio for my child? Firstly, how exciting that your child has shown an interest in dance!? Whilst we can often find ourselves swamped with extracurricular options as parents; dance continues to be one that tops the list of childhood after school activities. So, before you get too carried away dropping hundreds of dollars in term fees and uniforms at the first local dance studio you find, let’s do a quick check to be sure you’ve found the right studio for your child!

The first step is usually a quick google search to find a list of dance studios nearby! Sounds easy, right? But how often do you spends hours scrolling the internet, getting totally overwhelmed by all the options out there? Not to mention the complex dance terminology that can quickly make you feel like it’s all too hard to work out!

So, let’s break this down into what we feel are the most important things to note when you are looking for a dance studio.

Dance Teachers - are they qualified, or preparing for their teaching examinations? Be wary of studios that rely on senior students to teach classes. Good dancers/students don’t necessarily become great teachers. Our younger students need to build a strong and technically-correct base to be able to progress more quickly through the levels as they get older. Teaching them great technique while they are young ensures teachers don’t have to go back over foundations later and students don’t have to “unlearn” poorly taught skills.

Studio Communication - how easy is it for you to find out all the information you need about the classes? A well-managed school will keep parents informed about fees, events, any changes to regular classes or teachers and will make it easy for parents and students to ask questions. Try to get testimonials or find reviews if you feel like you want more information in order to be sure.

Student Assessments - Even in the most recreational dance program, having an understanding of what the teacher plans to get through within what time frame is very important. One way that studios manage this is with annual external examinations which progress students through pre-determined levels within a set time period. These are marked by a qualified person who is not familiar with the students. Grades are standardised either nationally or internationally across all studios under the same examination authority. Another way a studio may accomplish this is to have internal assessments or parent-viewing-classes where parents are told through reports or in person how their child is improving. For a student seeking to dance in a more serious way, an externally examined syllabus will give an indication of their overall standard. This also holds teachers and studio owners accountable to up skill and provide classes at a standard considered acceptable by the examining authority.

Costs - Find out what the fees are and if the studio is charging a set fee regardless of the number of lessons or if it’s per lesson. Some studios will run year around and not close on public holidays, whilst others will close on every public holiday and school holiday period. Some studios allow drop-in fees (usually these are adult classes or casual classes). Some charge monthly or per the school term. Studios now offer multiple ways to pay for dance fees. If you are unable to pay the full-term, many studios will offer payment plans that can be set up. Ensure you are staying within your budget and planning ahead to incorporate the full year into your costs, this will prevent you from having to pull out of a dance class where your child has progressively been working on technique and skills which will be required if they join back again. One other important thing to consider is the replacement class policy. This is one way a studio may ensure you receive the full value of paid lessons, by picking up an extra class or school holiday program if you have missed standard classes.  

Finally, and perhaps our most important consideration - what is the culture at the studio? Are the children happy, learning, engaged and progressing with a sense of purpose to their classes? If a teacher is encouraging, observing and inclusive this will reflect on how the students engage in the class. Students should not be fearful and worried about making mistakes, but rather guided towards correct alignment, posture and etiquette in class. This one might best be judged by taking a trial class or re-evaluating at the end of the month or term. If your child is unhappy in the class, you may be able to change to a different teacher, style or even a new studio to see your child keep thriving and growing as a dancer..... even if their first experience wasn't one of pure exhilaration.

In conclusion, just like with many things in life, there is no right or wrong answer as to how you may choose the best dance studio for your child. However, I hope these guidelines help you to make the choice that works best for your little soon-to-be dancer!

Welcome to the world of being a Dance Mum/Dad!

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