Each year at the beginning of May we send out recommendation forms and the fall schedule to all of our customers. The recommendation forms are made up from all the evaluations that we receive from each teacher regarding every student. Over the years, we have found that this system really works and our priority registration for current students usually begins in the middle of May for ten days. It gives our regulars a real chance of enrolling their children into the classes that they want to be in and also helps them to plan other activities for the fall around their dance schedule. This also signals the beginning of many meetings that are scheduled between us and parents to discuss the upcoming year and the schedule that their child or children want to do. These meetings are really worth the effort even though they can be time consuming they do give us an opportunity to educate the parents regarding dance classes and how they will affect their child. Typically we will schedule these meetings at certain times when we can be available during the week and usually they will go on for at least a week if not two. The most important reason for having them is that on the whole parents have absolutely no idea of what goes into dance education and therefore need help with understanding the structure of the schedule and the classes.

Each year at the beginning of May we send out recommendation forms and the fall schedule to all of our customers. The recommendation forms are made up from all the evaluations that we receive from each teacher regarding every student. Over the years, we have found that this system really works and our priority registration for current students usually begins in the middle of May for ten days. It gives our regulars a real chance of enrolling their children into the classes that they want to be in and also helps them to plan other activities for the fall around their dance schedule. This also signals the beginning of many meetings that are scheduled between us and parents to discuss the upcoming year and the schedule that their child or children want to do. These meetings are really worth the effort even though they can be time consuming they do give us an opportunity to educate the parents regarding dance classes and how they will affect their child. Typically we will schedule these meetings at certain times when we can be available during the week and usually they will go on for at least a week if not two. The most important reason for having them is that on the whole parents have absolutely no idea of what goes into dance education and therefore need help with understanding the structure of the schedule and the classes.

Parents today are concerned with status and position more than ever before and often try to push their children along too quickly without really understanding the reason or benefit of letting the students have time to learn and absorb the material. As teachers we know that this is not a sound way to learn and with dance it can also be extremely detrimental both physically and mentally. Too often a child is put in a position that they are just not ready for and the result in dance is that they technically become weak and mentally become demoralized. Not a good situation all around!

At our studio, dancers usually stay in each level for two years because it will take them at least that long to learn, absorb and most importantly, master the technique. We use a syllabus for each style which makes it easy for the teachers to make sure that they cover all the required materials for each level and age group and also make it easier for the students to learn because there is a logical progression to the work. A lot of parents and students initially do not understand this concept because the child will tell them that they know the work after one year. Sometimes they do remember all the technique and sometimes they don’t but one thing is for sure, they do not have time to master it in one year. When we talk to the parents we always let them know that our number one priority is to help each student to become the best that they can be and to do it in the safest way possible.  Every parent wants to know that you are looking out for their child and as teachers and studio owners we do, of course, have that responsibility.

Recently I spoke to a couple who have a talented young daughter. She is ten years old and in a typical state of development both physically and mentally for that age group. They were having difficulty understanding why she couldn’t take one grade 3, one grade 4 and one grade 5 ballet class when she was so talented. For children I primarily use the Royal Academy of Dance syllabi and each grade has quite considerable content and certainly for the strength of a ten year old a grade four and five class is normally for an older student. By the time my students get to the grade 2 level I heartily encourage them to take 2 ballet classes a week and as the grades become higher I encourage them to take 3 to 4 a week. The system that I use is that if a child is taking at least 2 of any grade they may also take one or two of the higher grade, this way they do not become too confused with the material in each level. I do not let any student take one of each grade as that definitely does make them confused. At least taking something twice a week will reinforce their knowledge of the content at each level. So by explaining this to these parents they were able to understand why I could not in good conscience let their child jump from one grade to the other without fully understanding and mastering the corresponding technique. Whatever style or technique you teach it is helpful to parents when they can understand how it is structured and how it is going to benefit their child by following your direction and advice.  I always stress to parents that we are interested in producing dancers who will last and be able to dance for many years to come whether it be as a profession or just something that they can enjoy recreationally. We are also hoping to produce great audiences and future teachers who will, eventually have a good knowledge of dance and who will appreciate what the training entails. None of this will be possible if the student takes classes that he or she is not ready for and that could end up with them either hating dance or receiving injuries that make it impossible for them to participate.

Students and parents need to know and understand that we have no reason to hold them back from accomplishing all their goals in dance but that if they are not fully prepared for more advanced work it could hurt them in more ways than one if they are plunged in to advanced classes. Permitting each student to blossom at each level is so important for their health, their psyche and the building of their confidence and self esteem that I have found that it is definitely worth taking the time to sit down with parents to talk it over. It is also a terrific way to get to know each parent better and to form good relationships with them for years to come.