Family 411: Getting kids involved with dance
You may have seen your toddler jamming to music in their car seat. Or you spot your five-year-old “rockin’ it” in front of the television. But is the next logical step dance classes?
There are many benefits of dance classes and every family needs to determine when is the right time to “hip hop” into a new activity.
At Broadway Bound Dance Center, there are a lot of tiny dancers. For many three and four-year-olds it is their first time having an instructor or teacher, and while it can be fun, it’s building a base of fundamentals that will help them as they grow with things like cognitive skills, balance, and posture.
Dance teacher Abbie Keller said dance classes can get kids started with techniques they will use throughout their entire dance career.
“Some kids are more naturally flexible than others. So that is something you always have to work on. Flexibility depletes as you get older. So it’s better to start younger with that,” said Keller.
While three and four-year-olds may sample several types of dance or movement, by seven or eight, they are doing more.
“They are understanding technique and pointing feet. And then by the time they hit nine, they are understanding a little bit more about spotting and using their core,” said Keller. “Just make sure you are really listening to your child and making sure they are enjoying dance class.”
Instructors said even if a child decides to take classes when they are older, families should not think it is ever too late to begin if students are dedicated to learning.
Jenny Taylor’s daughter Allie has been dancing since she was a toddler. Jenny is a New Albany Middle School teacher and understands students need to try all sorts of activities and learning to find their niche. “I think it is important to get your kids active,” said Jenny.
Allie Tayor,9 said dancing can reduce anxiety and stress for kids.
“I think it is really fun to dance. And you get to express a lot of your feelings,” Allie said.
Marlee Scholten hopes to join a college dance team and possibly find a career in dance. The 16-year-old said dance can give you the benefit of expressing your emotions.
”I know little kids sometimes feel shy. But when they go to dance class, they can really be themselves and really express who they are as a person,” said Scholten.
“Don’t push it. If they like it you will know. And I think it’s great to start your kid in dance and see what happens.”
Many studios allow parents to view classes from a television screen. Students said moms and dads can encourage, and help with the work ethic, but advise not to push too hard. “I think it really builds their self-confidence. they really build a lot of great long lasting friendships that they have I mean, for a lifetime,” said Jenny Taylor.
“It is really hard as a parent when your child wants to do everything. And finding that balance, a healthy balance of making sure they can still be here but not overdo it,” said Taylor.
The experts suggest taking your child to a dance recital or performance in your area and see which is most interesting to your student. If kids are still unsure, local studios often allow students to drop in a few different classes and decide what is most enjoyable for them. Many studios offer combination classes for the young dancers like tap, jazz, and ballet.
As you plan your family budget, parents suggest looking into purchasing dance gear and shoes from gently used children clothing stores. Once you get to know some families at your studio, check with families who have kids in larger sizes to offer hand-me-downs to younger dancers.