As a parent of a little ballet dancer, there is nothing better than watching them have the time of their life each class. But with only one short class each week, how can you, as a parent, ensure they are getting the most out of their experience? We’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to make sure your little dancer is taking advantage of every class!
The Day of Class
The classes for our youngest dancers usually run from 45 minutes to an hour depending on the child's age, meaning that the class goes by very quickly!
>> This brings us to our first tip: Don’t be late; be early!
For our youngest dancers, we always recommend arriving at least 5-10 minutes early to class. Arriving early gives students a chance to prepare for class - even if that simply means changing into ballet shoes and making a "just in case" trip to the restroom! That way, all the dancers are ready to go when it is time for class to start and don't miss warm-up exercises that are an important part of class. Arriving early is a habit that will serve students well throughout their dance training, including as they advance and the risk of injury due to lack of warm-up becomes more significant. Even more important, arriving early is a life skill that will translate into all other areas of life!
What Exactly Do You Do When You Arrive Early?
Here are a few great ways to use the minutes before class for young dancers:
- Use the restroom! One of the biggest time stealers in a beginning ballet class is bathroom breaks. Making sure that young dancers use the restroom prior to class helps to ensure that they don’t miss precious minutes in the studio later.
- Get dressed. Make sure young dancers are wearing the appropriate attire (ask a staff member for details on leotards, tights and shoes). Dancers should always also wear their hair out of their face (in a bun for the girls!).
- Tuck in those drawstrings. The elastic drawstrings on ballet shoes should be worn on the inside of the shoe. Yes, you read that correctly! The bows are certainly cute, but they tend to come untied very easily. Instead, tie drawstrings in a sturdy double knot, trim the excess if there is a too much, and tuck inside the shoe.
- Grab a snack. Especially if you are coming straight from school, we recommend that you give your young dancer a snack (such as fruit) that will give them energy for the class.
- Give a word of encouragement. With the last few seconds before the instructor invites the dancers into the classroom, a parent pep talk is an invaluable lead-in to a great class. Remind your child to listen to their instructor carefully, and to have lots of fun!
The time your young dancer spends in the studio is far less than the hours they spend outside the studio; but that doesn’t mean the dancing has to end.
>> Ms. Abi, our Children’s Division Director, explains that stretching is one of the best things your dancer can do to help improve their dancing outside of the classroom.
Stretches such as the pike stretch and half splits help dancers gain the flexibility they need to be successful later in their training. Stretching gently but consistently can help young dancers gain needed flexibility early on and will also help them maintain flexibility despite the growth spurts they will encounter throughout their childhood.
>> Another fun thing to work on with your young dancers is jumping!
The coordination of a plie (knees bent, feet on the floor) to a saute (knees straight, pointed toes off the ground) can be quite challenging and takes a lot of practice. After every class, be sure to ask your child to demonstrate steps they learned. It is also a great idea to encourage them to practice these steps throughout the week!
We are so proud of our dancers in the Children’s Division and love watching them grow up in our program! If you have any questions about your child’s specific needs, please don't hesitate to contact the instructor of your child’s class. The teachers are always happy to help!