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A Parent's Guide to Dancing Ages 8-18

First generation dancers are somewhat of an anomaly to their parents. The sparkles, the tutus, and hours of lessons are not only foreign, but can be a point of contention if not understood and supported by the parent. If your dancer is under age 8 visit our archives for information on your little dancer. If your dancer is over age 8 read on for advice on how to handle this exciting and sometimes trying time in your adolescent's life as a dancer.

Challenges and Solutions to Working with Adolescent Dancers

The After School Rush

It's 4pm and you've just picked up your dancer from school and in a half an hour you must help her change clothes, eat a good snack and travel to the studio. This seemingly impossible task ends in tears because you've never been quite familiar with fixing a perfect bun, and today she is not interested in carrots and hummus. Emotions run high at this age so you never quite know what you will get. Here are some helpful tips for this transition time from school to dance.

- Plan ahead: Pack the night before. Having a special dance bag that stays in the car can be a huge help. Pack it with dance clothes, shoes, comb, hairspray, hair ties, bobby pins and necessary snacks. This will help prevent the trauma of forgotten necessary dress code items.

-Sport a cool do to school: Take one item off of your rushed to do list by having your dancer wear her hair to school in a bun. There are a lot of great styles that will cross over. Check out a few ideas here.

- Helpful tip: Pack protein and potassium heavy snacks. Potassium helps eliminate cramps and protein builds up the muscles your child will be using the whole night through.

Homework and Heavy Dance Schedule

Every dancer who is committed to both dance and school will inevitably run into issues of conflicting schedules and a heavy work load. The good news is your dancer is developing critical life skills that will help your dancer later in life when balancing a family and career. Here are some helpful tips to get through the daily grind.

-Bring homework to the studio and try to get some done in-between classes.

-Encourage your student to use a study hall wisely and to maximize work time.

-Sometimes it's best to go to bed early and wake up early to do homework to have a fresh mind.

- Plan time for relaxing and being with family so that the heavy work load is emotionally doable.

-Keep the communication open so your dancer can ask for help when needed.

Benefits of an Adolescent Dancer

Dancing can be time consuming and cost you financially but rest assured the benefits for your dancer outweigh the sacrifice considerably. Not only is your dancer learning valuable life skills such as discipline, work ethic, and healthy physical habits, they are learning to train future generations to do the same. Dancers form a close bond as they work together toward a common goal and often bond with each other in special way. Here is how you can help and stay involved.

- Encourage your older dancer that they are role models and should act accordingly for the sake of younger dancers. This will appropriately help them gain maturity.

- If your dance school offers a student teacher program encourage your dancer to take part to learn how to interact with other dancers of different ages. This can be a fun part time job and defer the cost of lessons.

Support your Dancer Whole Heartedly

If you are not a dancer or artist yourself, you may feel confused as you see your child pore themselves into something so passionately. Try your best to see things from their perspective and support them when they get tired, frustrated, or discouraged. Most dancers are perfectionists and want to get better at their craft and when that doesn't happen quickly they become discouraged. Pay close attention, don't hover, and help to build up their endurance by offering a comfortable safe place to retreat. Be ready with an open ear, open heart, and be prepared to watch your dancer thrive!

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