At the studio, the dance experience can be enriched when parents bring the experience full circle with a post-class conversation. The conversation can be based around one or multiple questions listed below. Asking dance questions will enhance the familial experience, and dancers will undoubtedly appreciate their parents’ interest and involvement in their activity and extracurricular.
Tell me about a move you learned today.
Do you think you could teach it to me?
Did you learn a new vocabulary word in class today?
Did you make a new friend in class today?
Were you kind to someone at dance today?
Do you think we could stretch together tonight?
What is some of your favorite music you hear in dance class?
Did you do something particularly well today?
Did you struggle with a skill today?
Did you have fun?
Of course, children also love invitations to show their moves, create choreography, and produce mini shows.
Encourage these opportunities, and involve yourself with your dancers’ love for their art!
There will be times in your career when parents don’t always agree with your choices or teaching methods. Even as an adult, it’s hard to deal with criticism from other people, especially when it’s said behind your back. If parents are unhappy during or after dance competitions, chances are that they will talk about it in the studio waiting room or even on social media. These instances can be hard to handle, so use these tips for dance competitions to make the most of an uncomfortable situation.
Set Expectations Beforehand
The first step toward dispelling negativity during or after competitions is to set up clear expectations for students, parents and teachers. DanceStudioOwner.com recommended that you explain to everyone that it’s necessary to stay professional and keep a positive attitude in person and on social media. No matter how well students perform, the experience shouldn’t be all about winning, but rather learning and having fun.
It may also be helpful to explain to parents that their words and behavior have a significant impact on dancers. Many young athletes, dancers included, will eventually give up competitive sports because they feel as though they’re under a lot of pressure to perform and the game is no longer fun. Encourage parents to do everything they can to make competitions fun for their children and alleviate the pressure to win.
One of the best things you can do to flesh out any discontent or complaints about competitions is to promote dialogue between parents and staff. If you notice that parents are only expressing their concerns to each other, it might be a good idea to host a town-hall style meeting or one-on-one conferences to get these thoughts out in the open. However, keep in mind that if you want parents to feel comfortable voicing their concerns and complaints to you, it’s essential to remain empathetic, understanding and professional. Chances are that parent grievances are not an attack on you as a business owner, even though they may initially come off that way.
Establish a Social Media Policy
While you can’t control what parents and students post on their own social media accounts, you can ask them to remain respectful and positive while posting on or about your studio’s page. Many studios choose to create a social media policy that outlines what content they encourage and what type of comments will be removed. For example, the New Zealand School of Dance states in its policy that they “welcome feedback, comments, reviews and ideas from all followers” but request that these contributions are respectful and appropriate for all viewers.
There’s a good chance that the parents of your dancers will want to see the class perform more than once per season. In fact, Dance Informa magazine explained that many parents actually take this factor into consideration when choosing a dance studio. For this reason, many schools hold parent observation classes once or twice each month. This gives your students a chance to show off and parents a peek into the action without anyone peering around corners. If you’re thinking about implementing a regular observation period, use these tips for dance teachers to establish best practices that will make the experience positive for all parties involved.
The first step toward having a successful parent observation class is to discuss the expectations of everyone involved. This means taking a few moments to talk with your teachers, students and, of course, the parents. The Dance Exec explained that you’ll want to discuss timing, introductions and demonstrations with your teachers well in advance so they have time to prepare. Talk to your dancers about what they can expect while their parents are in the room and the opportunities they’ll have to demonstrate their new skills. With parents, you’ll want to emphasize the importance of being on time and remaining respectful in the classroom.
Have a Game Plan
Some teachers might just want to wing it when it comes time for parent observations, but you’ll feel better going into these sessions if you have a plan. Figure out how long instructors should spend running drills, letting kids perform and answering parent questions. It’s often a good idea to run through pieces that dancers are comfortable and confident with, otherwise they may be nervous about forgetting the steps or missing their tricks. Whatever game plan you come up with, be sure it highlights the best that your dancers and teachers have to offer.
Don’t Rule Out Participation
If you really want to give parents an idea of what their kids are learning, consider taking observation opportunities to the next level. Dance Studio Life explained that a participation class can cultivate a sense of respect and closeness between students and their parents. It’s a great way to show adults just how hard their budding dancers work each class. Plus, it’s often a fun activity to break the ice with parents and get them comfortable with teachers and the studio in general.
If your studio offers mostly low-key recreational classes, chances are that you don’t really need to dole out a regular dance school progress report. However, as you start to offer more pre-professional services and competitive classes, it’s in your best interests to give dancers consistent and thorough feedback on their performance. Many dance studios choose to give students progress reports, but there are certain factors you should keep in mind when setting up an evaluation system.
Since our last post, TutuTix has created a sample dance progress report template that you can download and customize for your studio’s needs. Check out the template by following our link below:
Wanting to keep working on your own progress report? Check out the tips below:
Do: Use a Specific Form
Before you go ahead and hand out midseason evaluations, it’s essential that you create a standardized form to complete for each and every dancer. DanceStudioOwner.com recommended that you use a rubric with sections for social, personal, technical, cognitive, spatial, musical and performance skills. Figure out how you want to rate each, whether it’s on a scale of one to five or with letter grades. You should also leave ample space for comments, as there will often be times your recommendations won’t fit precisely into one evaluation category.
Don’t: Go Overboard on Criticism
Sometimes you may find that instructors focus too heavily on negatives when completing progress reports, and that’s not good for dancers’ morale. Be sure to include a positive comment for each criticism that you provide, and keep your feedback constructive. It’s easy to get carried away providing commentary that you think will help the dancer grow, but you’ll want to point out what students are doing right as well as what they’re doing wrong.
Do: Make Them a Tool
A dance school progress report shouldn’t just be a sheet to tell parents how their child is performing in class. They should be a tool that dancers can use to improve their skills and become stronger performers. Work with your teachers to make progress reports educational and useful. It’s also important to discuss the feedback with your dancers and let them know you’re willing to go over the report one-on-one if they’d like. Keep your door open to both students and parents, and allow them to come to you for clarification or with questions. This can go a long way to keeping your clients happy and furthering the education of your dancers.
As a small business owner, you’re probably going to be a little more flexible about payments than a big business would be. Sometimes it’s necessary to give parents extra time to get their ducks in a row, and that’s understandable. However, it can hurt your studio if you have too many past-due accounts and let them hang in limbo. Here’s a few tips for dance studios on how to handle parents who are behind on payments without losing their business.
Have Policies in Writing
One of the best tips for dance studios to prevent past-due payments from becoming a problem is to clearly detail your policies. Dance Studio Profit recommended having your studio policies printed on invoices and available on your website. This way parents won’t have the excuse that they didn’t know your rules. It’s also good to keep your policies relatively straightforward. Detail what will happen after 30 days, 60 days and so on. Set penalties for standard time periods so people aren’t caught off guard.
Be Open to Compromise
Chances are that you’ve built strong relationships with many of the parents at you studio, and that can make bill collections difficult and even awkward at times. However, at the end of the day, you are running a business, and collecting payments is a necessary part of the job. If you notice that a parent is struggling with payments, take time to sit down and discuss the problem. When you talk about the problem in private, you may be able to come to a compromise, like some sort of payment plan. This way you’ll avoid awkward confrontations down the line and keep your customers happy.
Give Fair Warnings
While you’ll want to establish a final cut-off date for past-due accounts, don’t let it sneak up on parents. There might very well be individuals who intend to pay, but keep forgetting. It’s best to give gentle reminders, either in person or in writing, that a payment deadline is coming up. Let parents know ahead of time if they’re going to accrue extra fines or if their child won’t be allowed to participate in class. It’s a small action that can go a long way toward getting past-due parents to settle their balances and keep your customers happy with your business.
Dance competitions are a great learning experience for students young and old, but they can also be stressful and very intense. National competitions bring together groups of amazing dancers in huge venues with large crowds. That type of setting, combined with the pressure to perform, can be intimidating for just about anyone, no matter their age or experience. If you’re bringing your dance students to a competition for the first time, use these tips to get everyone in the right state of mind and make it an experience they’ll never forget.
1. Know What to Expect
You can never be too prepared for dance competitions. Make sure you’ve crossed every “t” and dotted each “i,” and don’t forget to let your dancers know what to expect. It’s a good idea to look into how many other groups will be there, how long the competition is expected to last and what the stage will be like. The more information you, your teachers and the dancers have going into the competition, the less likely it is that you’ll hit a bump along the road.
2. Prepare a Schedule
Another essential step to a smooth and easy competition experience is a detailed schedule. In an article about competition life, the University of Texas at Dallas recommended planning to arrive early to give your students plenty of time to register, change, stretch, warm up and relax their nerves. If your group has time between performances, make sure you note when to start warming up again and set an alarm to remind yourself. You may also want to note other performances you want to watch, the best times to take food breaks and when the awards ceremony will be. When you have a schedule set, it’s easier to keep everyone on the same page and prevent any last-minute scrambles.
3. Stay in Tune with Student Needs
There’s so much going on at dance competitions that teachers sometimes get distracted by paperwork, costume glitches or other performances. However, you’re going to need to pay special attention to your dancers and anticipate their needs. Don’t forget to bring along your dance competition survival kit, packed with cosmetics, sewing kits and medicine. You’ll also want to have extra water bottles and snacks on hand. If you notice that your dancers are looking particularly jittery, take them aside for a short pep talk. It’s important to explain that there’s nothing to be nervous about and that everyone will be proud regardless of how they score.
4. Perform for the Right Reasons
In your pre-performance pep talks, explain to your dancers why you’re attending the competition. Many novice students may assume they need to win a trophy to have a positive experience, but that’s certainly not the case. Dance Spirit magazine explained that medal or no medal, competitions create better dancers and performers. They teach students how to handle pressure and work together to achieve a goal. At the end of the day, you want your dancers to have fun, so don’t make the competition all about their scores.
“People focused only on winning don’t have fun,” Adrienne Canterna, an experienced dancer who co-founded “ROCK the Ballet” and appeared in the movie “Step Up,” told Dance Spirit magazine.
5. Practice Good Sportsmanship
If you want your dancers to come away from the competition with smiles, make sure that you’re encouraging and modeling good sportsmanship. It’s tempting to focus so much on your performance that you neglect to interact with people around you, but your students will benefit from talking with and watching other dancers. Encourage your group to cheer for other performances and wish other dancers luck. Even if they don’t walk away with trophies, they’ll be happy to leave with new friends and a heightened feeling of camaraderie.
In dance studios, there’s a method to the madness of dress codes! Besides requirements for appropriate attire, the dance studio dress code is designed to help students perform better and see themselves as a cohesive unit. As your students get older, there’s always the chance that they’ll take some liberties with the dance studio dress code. It’s something that every instructor faces at some point, and how you handle the first few instances is crucial. Use these tips to ensure that your dancers stay in dress code and accept the rules of the studio.
Make a Contract
At the beginning of each season, you should have your dancers sign a contract stating that they understand what constitutes appropriate attire in the studio and agree to abide by your rules. This isn’t as essential with younger students, but it’s a must-have for pre-teens. By making your expectations clear from day one, you’ll put yourself in a better position to enforce the dress code. When you have a student’s signature on a contract, it’s much easier to mitigate any rebellion.
Explain Your Decisions
Remember when you were a teen yourself and your parents used to tell you to do things “because they said so”? That phrase is especially frustrating for young adults, so don’t use it as a reason your studio has a dress code. Explain to your dancers why it’s important for them to wear specific clothing. When students are dressed alike, it’s easier for a teacher to spot someone out of form or behind the count. Dancers wear their hair pulled back so they have a full range of sight while performing. There are logical reasons behind your dress code, so let the students know them!
Have ‘Dress-Down’ Days
A scheduled dress-down day is a great way to reward your students for their hard work and keep them from breaking your dress code. It gives them the opportunity to wear the cute new leotards they’ve been dying to show off and express a little bit of their personality. However, make these days a reward, not a given. If too many students come to class dressed inappropriately, you might want to postpone the dress-down day until they abide by the rules.
Choose the Right Products
Dancewear can get pricey, so it’s important to keep budget in mind when setting a dress code. Choose practical, long-lasting products that will last for a number of years. This way your students won’t need to replace their uniform each season and parents can save some money. If your dance studio dress code is out of some dancers’ price range, it could lead to attire issues. Another good option is to sell products in your studio so dancers can quickly and easily replace items that wear out.
As your studio expands and you sign on more students, you’ll have an increasing number of parents to communicate with. Even when everything is great and students are happy, it’s easy to get bogged down by the number of texts, emails and calls you receive each day. If you value your sanity, use these six guidelines to learn how to communicate with parents of students effectively.
1. Outline Acceptable Means of Communication
From day one, you should establish preferred methods of communication with parents, taking into account their own needs and preferences. Outline what types of conversations should be handled through each outlet. If you want questions about class sent to your email but absence notifications to the office phone, note it on the studio schedule or another document that parents will keep handy. If you provide your cellphone number to parents, explain that it’s only for emergency situations. Otherwise you’ll run the risk of getting a text or call every time a parent has a question or concern. Set up similar expectations for your announcements. Let parents know that canceled classes will be relayed via email (or whatever outlet you choose), and that you’ll only call their cellphone in an urgent situation.
2. Build Trusting Relationships
Strong relationships lead to better communication. Does this mean you have to be a confidant for each and every parent? No, but you should make a point to show you’re trustworthy and encourage parents to be vocal about any problems. The first few interactions with new students and their parents are crucial in this step. Scholastic magazine recommended that you handle any issues in a discreet manner and assure parents that your teachers will do the same. Get back to parents as soon as you can, as this will show you value their willingness to communicate. Once you’ve developed trusting relationships with your customers, you’ll be in a better place to address issues and concerns.
3. Talk Early and Often
Another lesson you can learn from school teachers is that you should communicate early and often, and encourage parents to do the same. Stay on top of any problems that arise in your studio and follow through until they’re solved. Bring the issue to the attention of students, parents and teachers as soon as possible. Once you’ve devised a plan of action, follow up until you’re confident the problem has been resolved. TeachHub explained that being honest and open with parents from the start will decrease the chances that your concerns will prompt backlash from the involved parties.
4. Create Concern Forms
If you find that dancers or parents are approaching you at inconvenient times, like between classes or when you’re trying to scoot out the door, you could benefit from concern forms. Create a sheet that allows parents to write what their question or concern is about, whether it’s urgent and how they prefer to be contacted. Make the forms easily accessible, possibly in the waiting room or at the front desk, and have a designated box to collect them in. This process will ensure that you aren’t being caught off guard with problems and have enough time to think each issue through.
5. Follow the 24-Hour Rule
Sometimes issues will be complex and overwhelming, and the worst thing you can do in these situations is make a snap decision. Instead, Dance Advantage suggested that you follow the 24-hour rule. Take a day or two to think over the problem, remove your emotions from the equation and collect your thoughts. The extra time will allow you to see the big picture and find a solution that works for everyone. However, be sure to communicate to parents that you need time to think about the issue and will get back to them in a day or so, otherwise they may think you’re brushing them off.
Right next to the often stereotyped “pushy dance moms” are the hovering parents. They’re harder to handle than disagreeable parents because they aren’t really doing anything wrong. However, students will often be nervous or intimidated if they know their parents (or someone else’s) are watching from the doorway. Here are a few tips for dealing with helicopter parents without stepping on anyone’s toes.
Prove You Can Handle Student Woes
Many hovering parents are driven by the fear that in a large class, the needs of their child will be overlooked. You can’t blame parents for worrying, and the best way to ameliorate these concerns is to show that you can handle whatever crises arise.
A blogger on Washington Parent said that he was taken aback when the dance teacher banned parents from the studio on the first day of class. The dancers were only 3 years old, and he had planned to hover to make sure his daughter wasn’t scared or nervous. However, the teacher immediately took charge, got the class in order and proved to parents there was nothing to worry about.
The students, as young as they were, were given their first taste of independence and it helped to build their confidence. If parents see their children are in capable hands, it will help them to stop worrying and hopefully stop hovering.
Implement A No-Cellphone Rule
Another good approach for dealing with helicopter parents is to ban cellphones from your dance studios. You can even ban them from the building. This will keep parents from sneaking in to snap photos or videos.
OC Family explained that when kids think they’re on camera, it adds even more pressure and makes them nervous. So keep the phones out of the studio! Banning them from the building will minimize distractions in the texting and phone calls in the waiting room and hopefully encourage parents to get to know one another.
Create Hover-Friendly Opportunities
Some studios use one-way mirrors or closed-circuit video feeds to allow parents to watch, without disturbing the dancers inside. Sometimes, however, even knowing that people are outside watching can affect a dancer’s mindset as they learn. If this is the case for your students, and all else fails (or if you are dealing with a “lawnmower parent“), get creative with your studio policies.
One idea for dealing with helicopter parents who tend to peek into the classroom is to designate one class per week where parents are allowed to watch. Set aside the last 15 or 20 minutes of class and have your dancers showcase what they’ve learned for the parents. For novice dancers, this is a great way to get comfortable performing in front of a crowd.
Outside of the set class, remain firm on your no-parents rule. That means no standing in the doorway and no peeking through the glass. Enforce your rules and make sure your instructors do too.
Just when you think that studio life couldn’t be going any more perfectly, mama drama rears its ugly head. All parents want the best for their children, but overly competitive parents sometimes take it too far and create rivalry and conflict in your studio. As the owner, it’s in your best interest to nip any parent disagreements in the bud as quickly as possible. Even though the problem may have nothing to do with you, an unhappy parent might remove their child from your program. If you hear that two parents aren’t getting along, use these conflict resolution strategies to resolve the problem and reestablish a harmonious atmosphere.
Invite all the involved parties to a private meeting, away from other parents and students. Give each parent the opportunity to air his or her grievances without being interrupted. Listen carefully to what is being said. Scholastic suggested asking open-ended questions and for specific examples of the problem. Helping parents to get the frustration off their chest will allow you to have a calm, reasonable discussion. You’ll also want to see if there are some underlying issues. The fight might appear to be about carpool scheduling, but the real problem might be hurtful gossip. Try to read between the lines and get to the root of the problem.
Top of the list for conflict resolution strategies: approach the conflict with the mindset that it can be solved. After you listen to what the parents have to say, take both sides into account and suggest a possible compromise. Be careful not to “take sides” in the argument. Acknowledging that each parent has a justified point will make sure the parties know they’re being taken seriously. Explain that you value each parent as a customer and want to take their needs into consideration as much as possible.
Shift the Focus Back to the Dancers
Whether the disagreement is about scheduling, class placement or student achievement, the best way to resolve a conflict is to remind parents why they’re at your studio in the first place: their kids! The Australian Sports Commission explained that parents don’t realize their conflicts take attention away from supporting their children. Each student is there to learn to dance and have fun, and listening to bickering in the waiting room can hurt that experience. Ask parents that they settle their disagreement for the sake of the dancers so that everyone can learn in a positive, supportive environment.
It’s an unpleasant fact, but you can’t run a dance studio and not deal with mama drama. Parents are paying you to teach their children, and they’re entitled to voice their opinions, whether justified or not. How an owner deals with the complaints and concerns that arise can make or break a studio. Use these practical tips for dealing with a difficult parent and ensure your studio is a positive learning environment for both parents and kids.
Implement a Communication System
The last thing you want is an angry parent confronting you in front of your instructors and students, so it’s important to establish a complaint system and stick to it. According to Dance Advantage, a good method of communication is to have parent/student concern forms readily available in the studio. This gives you a chance to review the problem, decide on a plan of action and set up an appropriate meeting time with all parties involved.
You may also want to establish a no-gossip rule under your studio’s roof. Encourage your instructors to be aware of any grievances that might be expressed in waiting rooms. Some parents may voice their concerns to peers instead of you, so have instructors refer any gossipers in your direction. With this practice, you’ll be aware of any concerns about your studio, both large and small.
Establish Partnerships with Parents
Even though they can give you headaches and gray hair, remember that parents are not the enemy. They generally know their child better than you do and have potential to contribute to your studio’s success.
“For many, many years, I perceived the mothers as pitted against my own desires and intentions, and that didn’t work very well,” Kathy Blake, owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios, told the Dance Studio Owners website. “I have since learned the mothers and fathers are my greatest allies.”
Dealing with a difficult parent can become an opportunity for cooperation in the studio (just make sure it stays out of the classroom). You can always use an extra pair of eyes when it comes to music and costume choices, teacher effectiveness and facility conditions. Don’t view feedback as attack, but rather a chance to make your studio the best it can be. Blake explained that your studio should have good customer service practices, and this will often mean admitting that “the customer is always right.” You probably won’t be able to solve every problem, but acknowledge the legitimacy of each concern and explain to the parent what you can do about it.
On the flip side of the coin, don’t get too friendly with parents. You’re running a business and don’t want to be perceived as playing favorites. Blake warned that while it’s easy to see the best in people, some parents befriend you (or your instructors) to get special treatment for their child.
Recognize Preventable Problems
The best approach to dealing with a difficult parent is to make sure he or she doesn’t have anything to complain about. Be clear with every parent from the day they sign up that they will not be involved in the studio’s decision-making process. Having rules set in stone will ensure that all dancers have an even playing field. Dance Deck recommended that if you find that certain events like casting bring out the worst in parents, send out friendly reminders of your studio’s policies. Politely but firmly explain that you and your teachers work together to assign roles fairly and that there will be no changes once they’ve been announced.
When you set a policy like this, Dance Studio Owner recommended that you put out a general questionnaire to gauge parent reactions. There will likely be a few skeptics, but chances are that the majority of parents will appreciate your fairness and regard for their opinions.