Many times when you see a dance studio for the first time or you hear about it from a friend, you see or hear great things. Then you start going there and you realize it was not what you thought it was going to be. Maybe you had a different expectation for your child.
As you look around, ask a lot of questions, this is your time and money you have a right to know. Here are a few sample questions you should be asking with some general advise on the answers you get.
There are questions you can ask before you sign up. Some of the easy ones are:
1) Do you offer a free trial class? This lets you know they have confidence in their program. They are willing to let you try it for free to make sure it is the right fit for your child.
2) Do I need to call ahead or can we just come in? If you can just stop in, they have nothing to hide.
3) Are the classes by age or by level? If you have a 10-year-old, you don’t want them dancing with 5-year-olds. By the same token, if your child has 5 years’ of training, you don’t want them dancing with beginners. Make sure your expectations are clear and they have classes that will fit your needs.
4) How many students do you allow in each class? What is the minimum and maximum? You want to make sure that your child is not just a number. The teacher should know their name and have time to work with each child in the class.
5) What ballet technique do you teach? Ballet is the base of all dance (yes, even hip hop!). If your child is serious about dance, they need to study ballet. It is important that the school you are paying to educate your child knows what method of ballet they are teaching.
6) How many performance opportunities will my child have if they are a recreational dancer? The students that do not compete should have at least 2 performance opportunities in a year to help them improve their performance skills. Performance is an important part of your child’s dance training.
If your child is a competitive dancer you need to ask some harder questions. There is just so much more to consider before you make the commitment. Here are a few things to remember to ask:
1) How many competitions does your team do a year? Why does your school have a competitive team? Do they do a National Competition? How many group dances is each child required to do? This is important information in many ways. It will help you determine you annual expenses. It will help you determine the focus of the school. It will help you determine if your values and the values of the school are the same. It will help you keep your child’s dance education on the path you are looking for.
2) How many hours a week do you have team practices? Make sure you are not going to have conflicts with those days and times.
3) Do you have extra practices before a competition? Ask what day of the week these would be and is there an additional cost for this time.
4) Do they take separate technique classes or are the practices and classes together? This will determine how much technical training your dancer is getting.
5) How do they determine who gets to do a solo, duet or trio? There should be a system in place that is based on talent or longevity not popularity.
6) What does the average costume cost for the team and for the recital? Again this goes to your overall out of pocket expense for the year.
7) How much travel is expected? How many out of state competition do they participate in? Again, it goes to your overall out-of-pocket expenses.
The more time you spend talking to the owner/director/manager the better understanding you will have of what you are paying for. Dance is an investment of money and time from the parents and it is valuable to know that you are making this investment wisely.
The biggest question is are you and your child happy with your child’s dance education? If the answer is yes, then you are all set. If not, then it may be time to start asking some questions.
Always talk to your child and make sure they are happy and want to continue. If you ask them they will share their feelings. Let them be your guide. If they are happy 98% of the time, it is working. There will always be those days!
Watch for my next blog about those days!