So we find ourselves back in lockdown. After having navigated and battled through the first lockdown (which felt like it went on forever) we finally managed to get ourselves back into the studios late summer, albeit with changes and adaptions, and found ourselves settled into some sort of routine. Our studios felt the buzz again, our kids were able to vibe off one another and having that class atmosphere just can't be replicated at home. Everyone felt blessed to be back where they belong, until another bombshell after Christmas. Studios closed. Again!
Into your inbox lands the newsletter from your dance school explaining their solution to help provide you and your kids with continued training through such a turbulent time. Parents, you all react differently to this- and that's ok.
Cohort A: absolute joy! You are happy with technology, can function Zoom with your eyes closed (or your children can ;-)) and you are relieved that in such a turbulent time, your dancer will have some continuity in their training or simply a time of the day where you know that their focus will be on something active, with another human being keeping them occupied. For you, it's time for a cuppa (or something stronger...)- bonus.
However, we don't all feel quite so comfortable and for some, the thought of online class may indeed fill you with dread and anxiety. After having spoken to many many parents and children about the benefits of virtual classes I hope that I can impart some experience and help to ease your concerns.
Frequent concern #1 "I'm worried that my child won't engage"
But what if they do? This question reminds me of a well known quote from the poem by Erin Hanson "'What if I fall?' 'But darling, what if you fly?'" When logging into a zoom class you, and your children, literally have nothing to lose. Perhaps try to pop it on and allow your dancer to watch, they might hear the music, get the bug and just join in. With younger dancers it's sometimes too easy to assume that if they don't partake in the whole class and do very move perfectly, then it's a failed attempt. Wrong! There is no such thing as failed attempt- any amount of engagement is a win. We must remember this- when your 3 year old child first attends an in person class, in real life, outside of the strangeness of a global pandemic, they don't always do every move, nor do they always enjoy, or understand, every section of their first class. Guaranteed, however, that your teacher would not see this as an issue, they would not ask you to remove them form the physical class and low and behold, by the end of term they will be happily dancing, learning new steps and growing in confidence for this situation every day.
Zoom, for children of every age, is brand new. It's like stepping into a new space, and anyone who is uncertain about putting themselves into strange situations will undoubtedly feel a little nervous. Nervousness can manifest itself in many forms- teary, angry, silly, shy. However your child deals with this feeling, your teacher will not judge, draw attention to it or ridicule it. We all understand this is strange, and we are a support network, ready to help your dancers ease into a new setting and feel comfortable dancing on a screen.
#2 My children don't get anything from the sessions.
Across the country, dance teachers are trying hard to adapt to a new way of teaching and planning lessons whilst adding in new methods of engagement and experimenting with ways to deliver the content they usually do in person, remotely. This is particularly challenging for classes where they'd usually physically support pupils, such as in acro, and also for creative activities where the class usually rub off on one another.
We believe, however, that we have succeeded in managing to make our classes as fulfilling and as enjoyable as we possibly can. We know this because we have now tried and eased methods based on feedback from out pupils and parents as well as helping each other across the country in online forums and groups.
In regular life, every child gets something differs out of their physical classes. Some come out with a buzz of adrenaline from the fitness aspect, some come out with a drive to push themselves on the new technique they they've been working on and some simply come out having loved spending time with their friends. Online we can give you adrenaline, we can provide new content to work on and goals to reach, and we can provide you with the knowledge that you are taking part in class at the same time as your friends, regardless of not being able to be with them physically. You can see them on the screen and some teachers even let you chat before class :-) We are sure that, given the chance, your dancer would pull some positivity out the session with their online class.
Additionally, should they get the bug to join in, the most obvious benefit is the active nature of dance. Taking part in a scheduled class gives your youngsters an extra curricular activity after their homeschooling- same way as they'd usually come to the studio, to let their hair down and forget about that maths problem they were stuck on all afternoon. Dance allows our minds to both concentrate on the steps and exercises while also giving us that feeling of free-ness and energy. For both their mental and physical well-being, these classes can be unparalleled in their importance to your dancer.
Ready to bite the bullet and log on to your school classes this evening?
You've got this! We know you'll have the best fun here's a few hints and tips.
- Parents of little ones, get involved in the class. We love to see parents jump in and take part with the kids. Or if you're shy, don't tell your kids, just join in off screen ;-)
- Respect your dancer's space. In class they are not used to being watched from the sidelines so if they need their own space, give them it, safely. Perhaps leave the door ajar so you can keep a watchful eye, but where they still feel like they have their own space to let loose and learn
- Log them into class in plenty time. Frantic starts lead to frantic decisions often resulting in the nerves taking over and logging out.
- Make sure your dancer know who their teacher is going to be that night and what class it is. If your school has put on workshops or mixed classes make sure your dancer knows this too. Remember that you are their source of communication for now, their teacher can't tell them things unless they log into the sessions. Prepared dancers are much more relaxed.
- And finally, treat Zoom classes like real class. Ask your children to get changed into their dance uniform, time their hair back and get their bottle of water and any equipment they need for class. That change will help them to get into the zone.
Let's face it we all find it easy to chill too much with working from home, and sometimes even adults need a little nudge to get our bodies moving and take our minds away from the work that we've had to bring into our homes. Be kind to your kids, and if they need time off and a period of rest after a hectic day then that's cool, but we hope that this article can help you to help them understand the benefits of continuing with their classes, the enjoyment that they can get from them once they allow themselves to break down those barriers of nervousness and help to encourage them (and you) to give it a go.
With love from your teachers all over the country- We're here for you.