Picking the perfect dance school using your 5 senses

Well, the world has just said goodbye to one year and welcomed in another. The celebrations are nearly over which means that we barely have time to get over our food comas before we have to start getting organised for 2017.

For many of us this means settling back into work while juggling the countless trips to and from the stationery and uniform shops to get the kids ready for another year of school.

On top of that, at some point about three weeks ago, your son or daughter looked up at you with big puppy dog eyes and said "I want to start dancing." It has been at the forefront of their imagination and nag-ation (that's not really a word but it means constant nagging) and now you're convinced that it's what they really want to do.

So, you sit down and google "Dance Classes Northern Suburbs" and BAM! You're hit with more than 15 dance schools in your area and that's just on the first page. It all seems too overwhelming and you're wondering if you can plonk your child in front of the TV watching reruns of Dance Academy instead.

No, you can't and you don't have to. All you need is your five senses and if you like everything you see, hear, smell, touch and taste, then you've got a winner!

SIGHT

  • Make sure you sit in and watch your child's first lesson. It is important that you see what goes on in the classroom. Things to look out for are; is the class structured? Does the teacher have control of the room?
  • Take in your teachers' body language - is he/she warm and inviting to the students?
  • Most importantly look at your own child. Are they comfortable and are they actively being included by the teacher and the other students?
  • Look at the other students coming and going to class. Are they leaving the studio elated, smiling and laughing? Or do they seem defeated and down?
  • Is it safe? Would you feel comfortable leaving your child there for an hour or more each week?
  • Are they using safe dance practices i.e. warm ups, cool downs and teaching the correct technique to prevent injuries?

HEARING

  • Listen for positive reinforcement and encouragement. Remember that corrections are a good thing but if you hear criticisms that aren't constructive, it might not be a very positive environment.
  • Listen to the music. Are you comfortable with what's coming out of the speakers? Is it age appropriate? Are the kids engaged? Do they enjoy dancing to it?
  • Ask around! Pop your head into the parents room and hear what the other mums are saying. Ask them why they picked this school. It pays to be nosy!
  • Now it's just as important to take note of who's hearing you. Did the staff at the school listen and acknowledge all of your questions or concerns?
  • Is your child being heard? Will he/she feel confident to put her hand up and ask questions in class?

TOUCH

This one is a little abstract but I think it's one of the most important. When investigating dance schools you need to get physical. I would never recommend a child to sit and observe their trial class. They need to be up and giving it a go. It may seem like throwing them in the deep end but watching a class is usually more intimidating and leaves them feeling even more nervous about coming back the following week (that's if they want to come back at all). Remind them that it is normal to feel nervous and that being the beginning of term, they probably aren't the only first timer in the room.

SMELL

This may seem a bit silly but smell is important.

When you arrived did the studio smell clean and looked after? While this is good for hygiene and preventing the spread of germs that kids bring in from childcare and school, it also shows that the staff care about the studio and its patrons. Clean and tidy is a reflection of a great work ethic and that's what you should be able to expect from your dance teachers.

TASTE

Now I'm not going to suggest that you literally go and lick the floor of the dance studio. Unless you think that would help then by all means...

It is so important that you get a real taste for the school before you pay any fees or sign any forms. Go to as many free trials and open days as you can. Ask to watch classes or even go along to any upcoming performances the school might be having. Trust your instinct here. Usually, if it feels right then it is right but don't forget to find out how your child feels about the school too. While something might seem logical because of the price and the location it still might not be the right fit for them. Your child's happiness and well being should always be the priority.

By picking the perfect dance school you are the picking the place where you will watch your child's confidence grow and where they will meet their best friends. You are picking their solace, the place they look forward to going to after a long day of school. You will have your dance school to thank for all the years of blood, sweat, tears, laughter, fond memories and that cupboard full of childhood costumes that you won't be able to bring yourself to throw away.

So use your five senses wisely and pick the perfect dance school for your child.

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