I get this one a lot…a new parent brings in their 3-year old to their first dance class. They buy the leotard, tights and ballet shoes. They have the dance cover-ups on and the matching tutu dance bag with their bedazzled name on it. The excitement is as much for the parent as it is for the child– I mean, come on, it’s their first dance class! Mom or Dad gives them a final kiss and points them in the direction of the smiling teacher. Now is the moment of truth. 1 of 3 things happen:
- They go right in with no hesitation, listen to the teacher’s instructions and, to their parent’s delight, smile the entire class
- They cling onto to Mommy or Daddy for dear life and refuse to enter
- They gleefully run around the studio like they’ve just eaten a bag of cotton candy for breakfast, ignoring the agenda of the teacher, and leaving the parents to feel like they need to explain to the other folks in the waiting room, “I don’t know what’s gotten into her today”.
More often than not, it’s a tie between 2 or 3! For most kids, this is their first time in a classroom setting or their first taste of freedom without Mom or Dad. I remember a student 10 years ago who absolutely could not stay on her spot – she ran around the room constantly and I called her name no less than 35 times EVERY class to regain her attention. This went on for a couple of years (no joke).
Of course, the natural reaction of most parents is embarrassment. As a mom, I know firsthand how it feels to helplessly watch your child not behave in a way you want them to. After the hassle of getting their child dressed, transported, and delivered to class, parents don’t think it’s worth injecting the anxiety of their child’s possible behavior into the equation.
A majority of our job as Tiny Tot instructors is to teach things like: how to stand in a line without touching our fellow dancers or why we don’t pick our nose and eat it (instead of asking for a tissue). This is why I feel it is important to have a teaching staff that is capable of handling situations like: having an accident in class.
Though it may be tough sometimes, even at an early age, our kids will attempt to rise to the expectations we set for them. We have to be very aware of this fact in everything we do. When do we push? How much? When do we give in?
As I think back to this student 10 years ago, I wonder what would have happened if her mother decided it wasn’t worth the embarrassment. Today she studies 6 days a week, serves as a student assistant in helping the younger students and has already earned various dance scholarships.
Mohler Dance Academy