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Start Your Child in Dance

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Young Dancer

Young Dancer

© 2008 Treva Bedinghaus, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Starting dance lessons is exciting for children as well as parents. Dance is a wonderful activity for kids, capable of fostering a positive self image in both girls and boys. Dance lessons can teach a child self confidence, self discipline, poise and grace. A child introduced to dance at an early age will likely develop a love of the arts and a passion for rhythm and movement. Most importantly, dancing is lots of fun!

Deciding When to Start:

Some people believe that a child should be enrolled in dance classes as soon as possible, sometimes as early as the second birthday. Toddlers and preschoolers usually begin with "creative movement" classes instead of structured dance classes. If your child is 4 or 5 years old, consider his or her emotional maturity and personality. If she is extremely shy, forcing your child into an uncomfortable position may discourage her from dancing altogether. However, if your child is ready, an early start will give her a tremendous boost.

Finding a Studio:

Several things should be considered when deciding where your child will enroll in dance classes. Dancing has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, so you will probably have several studios from which to choose. Make a list of the possibilities and then visit each one. All dance studios are not created equally...do your research to ensure your child receives the highest quality of dance instruction.

Choosing Dance Styles:

Which dance classes is your child interested in? Many young girls have dreams of becoming a famous ballerina, so you might want to start with ballet. Most dance instructors offer mixed classes for younger dancers, often devoting half of the class time to ballet, the other half to either tap or jazz. Ask the dance teacher if your child could try a couple of different classes before deciding. You may be surprised to see your little one's delight for tap shoes or passion for front rolls and headstands.

Dressing for Dance Classes:

Probably one of the most exciting things about starting dance lessons is shopping for leotards, tights and shoes. If you are unsure about what your child is expected to wear to class, ask the dance teacher. Some teachers require certain uniforms, such as a specific color of tights and leotards. Try to involve your child as much as possible when shopping, allowing him or her to choose a favorite style or color. Make sure your child actually tries on the leotards, as dance clothes generally run smaller than regular clothes.

Having Fun:

Dancing is a joy, but it is also hard work. When your child is young, dance classes should be viewed as a fun experience, not as a chore. Watch your child during a class to make sure he or she is smiling and having fun.

Probably the highlight of the year will be the annual dance recital. Most dance teachers hold a recital at the end of the dance year (usually right before summer) to allow their students to show off their moves and to gain a little stage experience. Dance recitals are known to be stressful for parents, but a fantastic experience for kids.

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