What’s the difference and how do I know what’s right for my child?
Have you noticed that your child’s school offers an after school activity in just about everything? From Tae Kwan Do to hula hooping and from chess to ballet, there’s a chance to try an array of activities. While that’s wonderfully convenient and has its pros, it is important to know there is a difference. When it’s time to choosing a dance class for your child, consider the advantages and disadvantages of after school versus studio dance classes.
Time is precious
When it comes to a dance class, it’s a bit like working from home. Sure, you can setup your laptop on the kitchen table and get things done in a pinch, but you have to admit you do your best work when you are in your designated workspace without the kids in the background and the endless distractions of home life. Consider these points when deciding between an after school program or taking your child to a studio for class and make sure your goals are aligned with what’s offered when your child is ready to take that next step.
There’s only so much you can do in an after school class. By the time the instructor picks up the students from their school teachers and gets them to the dance room to change for class, a 45 minute class can quickly turn into a 20 minute class. It can be frustrating to have such limited actual instruction time – for both teacher and student. Let’s just say we got very creative at using the walk across campus to carpool to work on travelling steps. You’re simply not getting the most bang for you buck when your instructor doesn’t have adequate time to progress through a curriculum. There are warmups, stretches, barre or center exercises, across the floor and the ever important creative movement time. Every part of class is vital for a dancer’s training and when each one is consistently cut short or not done at all, your child is missing out.
Feel that studio magic
Rare is the elementary school equipped with a proper dance studio. You should see some of the places we have taught dance class – a church basement with a slippery tile floor, a preschool classroom with a hamster running on his wheel in the background, a school gym with endless foot traffic that distracted already very easily distractible kiddos, and even my living room during the pandemic Zoom days. You name it; we have adapted to it but there really is no substitute for studio classes. Mirrors, barres and a high-quality sprung floor are essential to successful dance training. And when you have an entire wall of shelving for playful props and teaching tools at the ready, you and the dancers are in heaven! Plus, kids just feel more like dancers when they are in a studio. The studio is special place that cannot be replicated by just another room.
The Friend Factor
One of the great things about dance is that even though it’s an individual art form, it also builds social skills and encourages teamwork. An added benefit is your child will make new friends in their dance class. When they are coming to class at a studio, they are more likely to make friends from other schools. It’s so validating for a child to have a group of friends with shared interests and goals and to have an escape from whatever the school day may have brought. The studio can be a safe place to explore creativity without being worried what their classmates will think. Some of my best friends growing up were my dance friends. We went to the ballet together, we played for hours making up dances and knew the dance scenes from every popular movie! And when I was in a fight with my school friends, I knew I would soon see my dance friends in class and all would be right with the world again. We believe it’s beneficial for children to have a diverse group of friends and one way to do that is by joining activities that bring children together from different schools and communities.
Where we started, where we are now
River Oaks Dance stared as an after school program and taught in Houston schools, daycares and churches for over 15 years! We wouldn’t have the program we have today without that experience. Classes were always full, parents loved the extended school day, schools made extra money and kids were able to try many different activities. While it seemed it was a win-win for everyone, we learned that some activities are more conducive to an after school program than others. Within the first month we were in our space, we noticed our students held their heads a little higher and walked with their back a little straighter. They felt like dancers and they were proud. I loved seeing this change in them and we’re proud of what we are able to offer.
After many years, we knew we could not give the professional level classes we wanted to give without having our own space. We are on a mission to provide an exceptional educational experience and we’re so grateful we have a space to do just that. Take advantage of all of the wonderful activities on offer at school and when your child is ready to take the leap, our studio is here for you!