It’s not too difficult to tell if a child likes to dance. You’ll see them wiggling and swaying to TV theme songs as toddlers. They’ll tap their toes to pop songs on TV — or go into full-out routines in the living room. In fact, it’s probably true to say that most kids will shake their groove thing when they’re little. The question is, “Are dance classes the logical next step?”
If you’re looking for an after-school activity for your child, dance offers plenty of benefits. According to the London-based Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD), this activity is perfect for kids who aren’t necessarily drawn to other team sports, but it’s also perfectly wonderful for those who seem to be good at all things athletic. In fact, it can improve flexibility and strength, which may help those kids improve at another sport.
What are the benefits of dance classes?
Dance offers myriad benefits far beyond what you might first imagine. “Dancing provides physical, psychological, and social benefits galore”
Dance is a fun activity for kids that exercise both the body and mind. In addition to increasing fitness levels, dance classes for kids also help with better posture, creativity, and cultural understanding. It helps to improve balance and flexibility. Studies have found that dancing can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. It can bolster self-esteem. It can help kids achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It provides both cardiovascular activity and weight-bearing activity, so it’s good for kids’ hearts and bones.
It can also open doors to a variety of careers, including more obvious options such as dance teacher, professional dancer, and dance movement therapist (using dance and movement to support physical and emotional health). It also can lead to other careers that support the arts in general or dance specifically, such as a publicist, producer, costume designer, or promoter.
How do I know if dance is a good activity for my child?
First, consider your child’s personality and interests. Have they enjoyed dancing in the past? Do they ask for lessons? Do they like to watch other people dance? If so, it’s worth trying a dance class . A one- or two-week dance camp is a great way for kids (and parents) to figure out if regular dance lessons will be a welcome addition to your regular routine. It can also allow you to check out different studios to find an instructor and location that is a good fit for your kids and your budget.
Many studios allow parents to be present during class or view from a window in the lobby of the studio. If they take an introductory class or participate in a dance camp, watch your child and make sure they are smiling and having fun during class. Dance class can be hard work at times, but it should first be enjoyable.
How do I know if my child is ready to start dance classes?
Some studios will enroll toddlers as young as 3 years old. These may be called Boogie up classes, or the like. Kids younger than this often lack the attention span and physical strength needed for basic dance lessons. Perhaps your child has friends who are already enrolled in classes or who are planning on signing up. Different studios offer different programs, and they may do a quick assessment to see which class may be a good fit for your child. This decision is best made by talking to the dance school instructors or owners about your child’s personality and level of interest, as well as any concerns and expectations you may have.
Which type of dance is best for my child?
Kids usually get their interest in dancing by seeing it somewhere first. Many girls start out their dance experience with ballet / jazz simply because they dream of someday becoming a ballerina. Boys may express an interest in hip-hop or tap initially. Or if your child is seriously pursuing musical theatre opportunities, maybe their directors have suggested specific types of classes to help them pick up choreography for a show.
A good place to start is by showing your child as many different types of dance as possible then observe which appeals to them the most. Take your child to a dance recital or performance in your area and see which numbers hold their attention or pique their curiosity.
If they are still unsure, see if a local studio will allow your child to drop in on a few different classes and decide which is most enjoyable to them. Many studios also offer combo classes such as tap, jazz, and ballet all in one, with the recital numbers utilizing parts of the same outfit in each. If you enrol your child in a combo class, you might want to get 50% off for their second batch too.