Updated: Oct 30, 2021
Inspired by: Sarah Antrim
Do your kids know all the latest moves? Want to train in ballet? Yearn to be in musical theatre? Dance classes may be on point. Here’s some must-know info.
It’s not too difficult to tell if a child likes to dance. You’ll see them wiggling and swaying to songs as toddlers. They’ll tap their toes to songs in the grocery store— or go into full-out routines in the living room. In fact, it’s probably true to say that most kids will leap and twirl about 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 other sports. Read on to learn more about the perks of enrolling your child in dance classes or a dance camp — and to see the answers to some commonly asked questions from parents.
What are the benefits of dance classes?
According to Berkeley Wellness, dance offers myriad benefits far beyond what you might first imagine. “Dancing provides physical, psychological, and social benefits galore,” says their online article entitled “The Many Health Benefits of Dancing.”
Dance is a fun activity for kids that exercises both the body and mind. In addition to increasing fitness levels, dance classes for kids also help with better posture, creativity, and musical understanding. It helps 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 choreographer, performing director, 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? Do they have high energy they seek to let out? If so, it’s worth trying a dance class or a summer dance camp. A one- or two-week dance camp or trial dance classes are 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 carpools to find a neighborhood group that is a good fit for your location and needs.
Oftentimes, parents are allowed to be present during class or view from a window in the lobby of the studio.
How do I know if my child is ready to start dance classes?
Some studios will enroll toddlers as young as 2 years old. These may be called Pre-K or pre-ballet 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.
What questions should I ask the dance teacher?
Many times the dance studio’s website will list each instructor’s bio, so you might want to check there first. You can also ask to set up a time to talk to the instructor. (They may have very little or no time between classes, so it’s best to arrange an appointment when they’re truly free.)
When you’re face-to-face, ask what the teacher’s background is, including where they studied and what they like to teach. Also find out if their emphasis is on classically training kids in proper technique or if they’re more focused on fun and physical movement. Many places offer a blend of both, but if they know you’d like a class that is heavy on serious technique, they may recommend some specific dance classes for your child.
Also, see what other dance activities the instructor is involved in; some teachers also run a dance camp over the summer, run Dance Birthday Parties and Bas Mitzvahs, or teach at different studios. They may also perform locally. If so, you may want to take your child to a performance to show them what their teacher can do on stage.
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 simply because they dream of someday becoming a ballerina. Boys may express an interest in hip-hop or tap initially.
All of this being said, you're probably thinking it's a smart idea to have your child try out some dance classes today!