Is Your Child Losing Interest in Dance?
Who is losing interest in Dance? We are about to begin Term III here. There will be those who don’t want to come back to dance. Why is this and what do you do when you hear this from your child?
Firstly, it has been a long year already. Everyone has had busy times up to now. It will only get more hectic from here on until the end of the year, be prepared. Kids are tired by the end of Term II. Sometimes a few weeks off revives them, sometimes it makes them even more likely to quit dance.
Holidays can Help or Hinder
During holidays, those students who don’t spend time at dance (refer to previous blog about passionate dancers https://www.focusondance.com.au/passion-and-arrogance-dont-confuse-the-two/), have had a taste of freedom. Time to do whatever they want. Not having to to go to dance or other activities every week. They can decide that they prefer this lifestyle to a full one, racing from school to dance. They can lose interest. Sometimes, Parents may prefer this too!
It’s Cold Outside
The weather is such that it is nicer to stay at home, keeping warm when it’s colder outside. I find that winter, when the days are shorter, is a little depressing. It isn’t much fun when you finish dance in the dark and it’s 5.30pm! I would love to stay at home with the fire blazing too. But it isn’t that cold in the dance studio. All that moving makes it nice and warm, until you step outside.
Students can be a little bored by now as well. The first two terms are for learning new steps and exercises. This means lots of repetition. (see https://www.focusondance.com.au/one-more-time-repetition-is-a-good-thing/ ). Students can not see the benefit of doing something over and over, especially young dancers. They don’t understand that this is part of the process to help them be awesome dancers. If a teacher can’t vary the routine, they lose interest. If you can hold out until Term III, when everything starts to happen, they get excited and interested again.
We begin concert work in Term III and this is what most students look forward to the most. It is all about what dances we are doing and what costume they will wear. If a child pulls out of dance before they get to experience this part of dance, it is a shame. I have seen time and time again, students not wanting to come to dance at the end of Term II, stay and perform at the concert and never say “I don’t want to go to dance” again. I have students asking me in the first term, “when we are starting concert dances?” They want to know what they will be wearing. It’s March guys – give me a minute! No-one is losing interest when we are tying on costumes.
Sometimes there is something better on offer than dance class. I have seen dancers in tears and clinging to mum in the waiting room. Mum doesn’t seem sure what is happening. They usually love to come to dance. Sitting with Mum, is our dancers brother and two cousins. They are going to the park while dance class is on. So, you don’t know why they don’t what to be here?????
Instead of making it seem like they are missing out, it would be a great idea to tell them that after dance, they can all go to the park together. Trips to the cupcake shop, doughnuts and baby Cinos are also a great bribe. A treat after dance is something to look forward to.
A seasonal sport has begun. All their friends are playing ………. now. Yes they want to do the same. Sometimes sport and dance fit into the schedule, most times they don’t. It’s not that they lose interest, just something distracts them. Your child and you must choose. Though I do need to point out, that dance is not a seasonal activity. Dance is very difficult to start half-way through a year. Children find it hard to catch up with the rest of the class. Parents will come along to viewing day and wonder why their child isn’t doing as well as some others. Then they feel it is your fault as a teacher. They started , Term III, week 5 – the others in February – 25 weeks ago, maybe that could be it?
I have had students take a month, year or two off dance. They can come back extra keen. If they are willing to work at it, they can catch up just fine. It is easier for older students to take time off and catch up, as they have learned more of the basics. When you are committed, you work at it.
With the older students, school can become overwhelming. All that homework, assignments, exams and pressure takes up so much time. When you are a senior dancer, you have more time at dance and usually later classes. When do you get the time to fit it all in? Well let me let you in on a secret – I did all my homework at 8 in the morning before school. I caught an early bus and no-one was there when I arrived. There was about 30 minutes before my friends turned-up. Plenty of time for homework. Of course assignments were a Sunday thing. But I loved to write assignments, so that wasn’t so bad. Though I am not recommending you do the same.
You need to find a balance for yourself. Dance can be a stress release at these times. You can go to dance and move to make yourself feel better. It helps to keep your mind working at it’s best. The oxygen flows better to the brain after exercise. I have seen so many of my senior students, so stressed out from school pressures. Dance gave them an outlet and a place to come together to talk to others. This gave them a sense of not being the only one in the situation. Sometimes, a good chat and a laugh was all they needed.
So what do you do when they don’t want to dance?
If it was your life-long dream to learn to dance and your child comes to you and tells you they don’t want to continue, maybe you shouldn’t force them. Some kids just don’t want to dance. I know what on earth can be wrong with them? Just kidding. Dance is great for everyone, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to do it. I mean kale is apparently good for everyone, but most people just don’t want to eat it.
Forcing Them to Go
Forcing a child to continue with dance, when it is obvious they don’t want to do it, is not really a great idea. Dancers who are made come to class become resentful. They learn to hate dance. I don’t want anyone to hate dance. A forced dancer, is not a happy dancer. A dancer who doesn’t want to be there, is not an easy dancer to teach. If you let them leave, they may decide to come back to dance. If you make them go every week, kicking and screaming, that’s not going to make a great memory for them.
Yes, I know I said, that dance isn’t seasonal. They just have to decide to come back at the beginning of a dance year.
I once taught a child who quit numerous times. They would decide to not come back in week one, then want to start in week 5. I let this go for a few times, but eventually said that if they came back, then quit again, that was it, they were not coming back again. It was too disruptive for the rest of the class. You have to make an committment and stick to it. Consequently, she didn’t come back.
Just Exhausted and Emotional
When your child is just really tired from a big term, a class off doesn’t hurt. It is not that they are losing interest, they are tired. At the end of Term II, we cancelled most of the classes in the last week. Our students had had a big term, in dance and at school. They were just tired. Trying to teach an exhausted class, doesn’t work that well. You can’t get much from a dancer who wants to cry all the time. I know Parents were overjoyed with having the afternoons to just go home. So many told me they had emotional wrecks for kids.
Suck It Up Princess
Mostly though, I am a advocate for the “Suck it up Princess” way of thinking. As a dance teacher of over 30 years, you can tell when the tears are genuine and things are bad. As oppose to the attention seeking tears, used to make Parents feel bad. The later are turned into beaming smiles, once they realize that it just isn’t working for them. The former means, maybe you should go home with Mum.
I love to be able to go out into the waiting room to tell a Parent that a class that began with tears, has ended quite quickly and happily with no trace of mental scarring. This is not an “I told you so” moment, but just a reassurance that dance teachers have that super power of just knowing when to give in to tears and when everything is really ok.
When to Quit
If you feel that your dancer really doesn’t want to continue, when do they finish? I am of the philosophy that you finish what you start. Finish the term, finish the year. Only if the student is becoming disruptive in class is it alright to finish before term ends. Remember you bought all the dance gear, they danced for one week – that’s not good. Yes I have had this happen. Dance begins term one, week one, the child has all new dance gear. Week two, she quits. She was allowed to. That wouldn’t happen at my house.
What do you want to teach your child. Committment is not important? This is a great lesson to learn, you made a choice, you wanted to do it, so do it until it’s done. Every dance teacher has those who come for a term and don’t come back. What have they learnt? Dance is a process that takes all year and many years. It’s often that kids think that you learn grand jetes (large jumps) and pirouettes (turns) in the first lesson. They find plies (bends) and positions of the feet, not so exciting. Do you want to teach your child that you can losing interest in something and just go onto the next thing, then the next….. is fine.
Then you have those children who just want to do their own thing. Well there are ‘dance’ schools for that too. You just have to find what suits your child. But that’s another Blog topic I think.
I Was One Too
Another secret (not so much anymore), I was quitting dance. twice actually. The first time, I was about 7. It was Saturday morning. I was all dressed and ready to go. I really don’t remember what happened. There were tears, there were “I don’t want to go”es and it wasn’t pleasant. My Dad was going out and he was taking me. He left, I stayed home. Then there was the “I want to go to dancing” as he drove down the road.
So maybe I was testing my Parents? I think I realized once he left, that in reality I wanted to go and see my friends. We had so a great time before and after dance, just playing games. I was going to miss out. I went to dance all the time after that. I don’t think that I wanted to quit, maybe just not go that day.
The Other Time I was Quiting
Then, when I was in the first year of High School, I was going to quit. Definitely quitting. Once again, I can’t really remember why I wanted to quit. Maybe it was one of those moments of sheer idiocy or a brain fart! I do remember that some of my follow dancers were chosen to do an major ballet exam and I wasn’t. I decided that I really wanted to do it after all. After a chat to my teacher and making a committment to work hard, I was able to do it.
I was 13 and now, I am not 13 and so glad I got it together and didn’t quit. Who would I be right now, if I hadn’t keep going? That’s just too scary to think about.
Hold Out for The Concert
As I said previously, if you can hold out until concert fever begins, you will make it through the dance year. The best thing about learning dancing, is getting to perform. This is what makes us happy and motivates to keep going. This is one reason some dancers love to do comps. (https://www.focusondance.com.au/passion-and-arrogance-dont-confuse-the-two/) – yes we almost made it through without a mention of the comp team!!!!
Make Sure It’s What They Want to Do
I recently had a chat to a mother about a piece of advice she had for Parents whose daughters wanted a horse. It was about working out if they had the committment before taking the plunge. Were they the last kid in the car at the end of Pony club? Were they in brushing down the pony and feeding them or did they just hand the reigns to someone else to do that? The kid who is keen will show you they really want to.
It is a great idea to figure out if you child really wants to dance before you get all the gear and spend a fortune. Ask them why they want to dance? Is it for them or is it because you want them too? Is it just a phase or a passion? A passionate child will not be found losing interest.
They don’t have to be totally obsessed to begin with, hopefully that will come. Maybe they will not go on to a dance-related job, but as long as they had a great time, made awesome friends and learnt many life lessons along the way.
Happy Dancing !