04 FebWhat to do when new students don’t want to join in the dance class

This is a question that is frequently asked of me by dance teachers new to teaching the early years age group. Possible methods of approach will vary according to the specific circumstance. For the next few posts I will attempt to offer practical help based on personal experience to the various situations that I have encountered during my teaching career. Let us take for example the situation when a young child of 3yrs is new to the class.

I am of the opinion that when teaching this age group it is far better for the teacher and the students if parents are not invited to sit in the studio or dance room. As I mentioned in an earlier post if the teacher meets the students outside the room as they are preparing to enter, this ensures that she can observe the children and familiarise herself with any obvious problems. By that I mean the child who may be shy or lacking in confidence or clinging to their parent or upset because they fell over in the car park or who haven’t got their pink ballet shoes!

In fact with regard to ballet shoes it is my policy for the early years age group that all the children dance barefoot.

Dance teachers in the private dance sector may be approached by a protective parent who insists that their child is very shy and is not used to being left and therefore wishes to accompany them in the studio.

This situation could be largely avoided if it were made clear at registration that parents do not stay with the child in the dance class. A ‘Showcase day’ or ‘Parent watching day’ or ‘Open House’ can be offered as an invitation to all parents at the end of every term. Having said this there will undoubtedley be the odd occasion when a child on the day confronted with the new situation decides that she or he doesn’t want to go into the studio without the parent. Or the parent thinks that the child doesn’t want to go into the class without them! I have encountered parents who appear to consider that to have a clingy child in some way publically demonstrates how much their child loves them which consequently confirms their status as loving and good parents.

The first piece of advice therefore is that the teacher must know the parents. Knowing the parents and knowing the children and assessing their personality and relationship traits are key to the way in which a teacher responds to potential problems.

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