Are Dance Lessons the Right Fit for Your Child?

Which fall pastime is the right for your child?

Photography by thejbird via Flickr (cc)

Photography by thejbird via Flickr (CC)

Got a pint-sized So You Think You Can Dance fan in the house? If dance lessons are under consideration, you should know there are two types of dance schools: Competitive schools involve—what else?—competitions (complete with trophies) throughout the year, while non-competitive schools emphasize the more artistic side of dance. What’s best for your child? Take in a class, recital or competition to find the school that fits. “Beginner classes are ballet-based but cover concepts like large motor movements and small motor movements,” says Susan Romeril, the Ontario branch president for the Canadian Dance Teachers’ Association in Mississauga, Ont. She suggests parents look for teachers certified through associations such as the CDTA, Royal Academy of Dance or the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.

But how do you know which type of dance is right for your child? Conventional wisdom is to start your three- to five-year-old in ballet because this discipline is the basis of all dance. “But some children think it’s too slow and want to move, move, move, and they might stream toward jazz,” says Romeril. “The kids who like to make noise often pick up tap.” Simply trust your instincts and register your child in the class that excites him most.

Many studios offer exams by bringing in association-certified examiners to assess children according to graded standards. But exams aren’t a must and children can move to the next level without them.

Expect to spend $500–$1,000 annually for basic lessons. Costumes, exams and competitions will up the cost. More competitive schools may come with a higher price tag. “We spend about $200 a month for five weekly lessons,” says Regina mom of three Sarah Cooke, whose nine-year-old daughter, Hannah, takes dance. “The additional solo choreography and practice for the year is about $300, exam prep and cost is about $100 per class, costumes are about $100 each and competition fees are $150. So about $3,000 per year total.”

Does My Kid Have It?
Pay attention during recitals. “Teachers put children who are gifted or disciplined—inadvertently or on purpose—in a pinnacle position because that child helps all the others,” says Romeril.

To learn more, please visit Canadian Dance Teachers’ Association.

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