Top 5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Tiny Dancer (And YOU!)  Feel Confident In Dance Class

It’s hard to be a new dance parent while helping your child navigate dance for the first time, right? Don’t worry, we got you. We are here to walk you through a few life hacks to make it seamless. Some of our top 5 tips are counter-intuitive, but trust us. We’re experts! 

  1. Take your child to the potty before dance. “But I don’t have to go potty, Mommy!” Famous last words, right? Taking a trip to the bathroom to at least TRY to go, is non-negotiable before dance class. At the very least, it will offer your dancer to wash hands before entering the studio. We want our students to have an amazing experience at dance- peeing one’s pants isn’t the way there. A dancer cannot concentrate when they have to go to the bathroom. Stopping class to go to the bathroom for one student usually results in a disruption of the entire rhythm of class- we call it “starting a pee-pee party.” Suddenly, the whole world has to go and one-by-one our students are led on an unplanned field trip to the restroom. In a worst case scenario, the dancer has an accident before they can verbalize their need to the teacher, which results in gross cleanup, and physical- and maybe even emotional- discomfort for all involved. This whole scene is so easily avoided by arriving 10 minutes early, and making it routine to stop by the bathroom.   
  2. Clean out the dance bag and label everything. Clothes, shoes, Barbie dolls, snacks, lip gloss… the list goes on. Your dancer feels confident when they can walk over to their bag, grab their next pair of shoes, and head right back to the group. You can help facilitate your dancer’s shoe transition by making sure the dance bag is easy to navigate and free from distractions. Also, if it comes to dance class, it should be labeled. Most of the shoes look EXACTLY alike, and many of the tiny dancers aren’t sure which gear actually belongs to them. You can help the teacher retrieve your dancer’s belongings by making sure everything is clearly labeled. An easy way to label shoes is to use an address label sticker on the inside sole of the shoe. Permanent marker also works, but make sure you don’t write anywhere it would show up during a performance- no shoe graffiti, please! 
  3. Join the communication platforms. Read the weekly newsletter, join the app, check your parent portal. It might seem like a lot but it’s probably a total of five minutes a week, and it will make all the difference in whether you feel like part of the dance family or not. It feels good to understand policies, changes, important dates, and special events. You’ll never feel clueless or alone if you make the tiniest effort to stay informed at the studio. When it comes to performances, costumes, and the next session of dance, if you read the studio news each week then you and your dancer will always know what’s happening, and you’ll even avoid unwanted charges to your card and schedule! 
  4. Untie shoes. If the dancer’s shoes have laces, it helps tremendously if you take them out of the bag, untie them and stretch them open so they’re ready that tiny little foot to slide right in. Often we find ourselves sifting through the cluttered bag only to find a shoe with a quadruple knot left behind. Multiply that times a dozen students, and we’ve unnecessarily wasted precious dance time wrestling with the footwear. Your dancer feels confident when they can put their own shoes on themselves. When shoes are harder to get into than a bank vault, they can’t do it alone! 
  5. Make like a tree…and LEAVE. (No, do not grow roots and stand there strong as an oak!) We know, we KNOW! Your dancer is clinging. Your dancer is crying. Your dancer LOVES IT when you watch. How can you possibly leave them? But the hard truth is when you linger, the entire dynamic of the class has changed. Your dancer isn’t free to be their authentic class self, because they must perform-duh-  there’s an audience! The other kids start wondering where their parents are, and the questions begin. Everyone is so busy looking backward at the windows and door, they have forgotten all about the teacher in front of them. If you think about it, you pay us to capture your child’s attention. So why then would you compete with us for it? It sounds harsh, but it’s so true. Boogie out of there and everyone’s better off for it, including you- because now you have a full 45 minutes to yourself! When the time comes for us to perform for you, we want you to see growth, progress and a confident, independent dancer. We won’t have anything to show you if you never go away long enough for us to teach it, so kiss your dancer, trust us with your precious cargo, and head out. You can do it!
Introduces our youngest dancers to ballet and tumbling in a positive and fun setting.

Why Can’t I Watch Class?!

Elevate Dance Center is a “kiss and go” studio. This can be hard for some of our youngest dancers’ parents to understand, but we feel very strongly that our children should be given a learning environment free from spectators. Class time is about exploration, mistake-making and growth. It is not a performance, and therefore needs no audience. 

While certainly you are the most well-behaved parent on Earth, some folks are absolutely not. When parents are in the room, they unintentionally create a slew of distractions, such as texting, tending to younger siblings, whispering to one another, or giving a misbehaving child “the eye.” 

While well-meaning, it is actually a huge step in the wrong direction for our classes when parents interrupt the room to help with changing shoes. We totally get it- you’re just trying to help, and you don’t want to see us “waste” 5 minutes changing shoes. But, we are experts in our craft, and there is actually magic that happens during the shoe transition part of class. Did you know it’s actually an opportunity for our kids to reach some benchmarks and milestones in their coordination and independence? Did you know that’s the part of class where some students step in as leaders and help those who need it? Did you know during the shoe change is when some kids share whatever’s on their heart with us?

Who knows what goes on in all those brilliant little minds while you’re watching, but we bet it goes something like:

Why does her mommy stay and mine goes? I want my Mommy too! 

Oh I see my mommy over there I will run and give her a quick hug. 

My mommy is here but she’s looking at her phone. I have an idea! I will really act up so she pays attention to me. 

Why does my mommy keep making those movements at me while I do this dance? She doesn’t like it. I must not be a good dancer. 

My mommy isn’t here today. There’s nobody clapping and watching me do this. I guess I’ll stop. 

You see, when parents stick around, it creates two distinct groups of kids; those kids whose parents stay, and those who don’t. This creates a whole bunch of different behaviors that we don’t normally have to handle when ALL parents simply kiss and go.

So what if you’re on board with the kiss-and-go policy, but you’re still not ready to be separated from your little for 45 minutes? Here are some tips to make it easier on you, momma:

  1. Arrive early enough that you are both calm and not rushing. Take your child to the bathroom, help her find a cubby, set up their stuff just right. Spend a couple minutes together in the room, dance it out for a sec. 
  2. With a bright smile, wave and say “See you soon! Have fun!”
  3. THEN GO. No more hugs, no tearful slow-motion waves. Rip the band-aid off and book it. We promise to keep your child safe and comfort him if he’s upset. 
  4. If you are really uncertain if your child is going to go for this, then talk to the teacher about your concerns up front. Let her know how long you are comfortable with your child crying before you want to be called. (We’ve never had to make that call, by the way. 😉
  5. And lastly, if you can’t bring yourself to leave- just stay invisible. The room is made of glass, you can see in. Just make sure your baby doesn’t see you, or it all really goes downhill from there.

We promise, it gets better every week. This is why we suggest you give it 6 weeks for your predancer to adjust. Check in with your child’s teacher after class. If after 6 weeks it’s still a struggle, then it’s possible your dancer isn’t ready yet.  We will be honest with you and help you if the decision to dance now needs reassessing. We are in this together. You and your child are in great hands. It takes a village, and we are your people. Now kiss that beautiful baby and go!