Back-to-Dance Survival Guide for Parents
Back-to-school season, for many children and teens, also means back-to-dance, back-to-sports, back-to-theater, back-to-band, back-to-homework, and any other number of things. Here are some tips for parents to help their dance students prepare for, and survive, a busy school year!
Preparation is key. Before the season begins, your child will probably start receiving schedules for dance and after-school activities. It is a good idea, especially in a multi-activity and multi-child family, to have a large family calendar in an easily accessible area of the house. When schedules come in, all activities should be added to this calendar. Mom and dad can add their events and activities, too.
When the calendar is updated, it will be easy to see where there are conflicts. If there is, for example, a graded band concert on a night when your child usually has dance class, you can advise the dance studio ahead of time that your dancer will be missing class that night. If rehearsals for a school musical are in direct conflict with dance classes, you can talk to the dance teacher to see if there is a different class available that fits with the schedule, or talk to both the show director and dance teacher to work out a compromise.
Participation in both activities helps to build overall technique, confidence, and performance ability. Most teachers and directors will be willing to work with you if you come to them in advance with conflicts. Your family calendar will help you do that.
It is important to add items on the calendar with the child present, so they are also aware of any potential conflicts. Take advantage of the opportunity to talk about prioritizing. For example, if your son is adding a big test at school to the calendar on a Friday, and he has two dance classes on Thursday night, discuss a plan with him to do the majority of his studying on Wednesday night so he can still attend dance on Thursday and do a quick review before going to bed. Scheduling time to work on large projects will also help to avoid last-minute stresses.
If it becomes apparent that there will be too many conflicts during the year, action should be taken as soon as possible. For example, if choir rehearsals and hip hop class are on the same night at the same time all year, perhaps talk to the teacher to see if there is a different hip hop class on the schedule. If not, the student may need to decide to drop one or the other. Similarly, if both parents have conflicts on the calendar on dance night, car pool arrangements may be in order, or you can contact the studio for different class availability.
Because dance students are typically involved in many other activities, it is imperative for them to become good organizers and to learn how to prioritize. They (and their parents) also need to be good communicators, so that everyone involved is aware of potential conflicts and can work out compromises where necessary. These excellent skills grow right along with great battements and pirouettes, and students will value the lessons well into the future.
The keys for this dance season are: organize, prioritize, and communicate! Then, of course, remember to have fun!