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What Age Should My Child Start Dancing?

One of the most common questions we receive at Small Fry Dance Club is “What age should my child start dancing?” Children by nature love to dance. Parent’s often want to start their kids in dance classes because they notice that every time they play music their child joyfully dances all over the house. In our opinion no one is “too young to dance”, it’s a natural human expression that we are born with. 

If you are looking for a preschool age dance class, we believe there are a few other questions you should be asking that may help guide your decision on starting dance classes. 

  • Is your curriculum designed specifically for young dancers?
    • A preschool age dancer learns much differently from say a 7 year old dancer. Even within the preschool age ranges a 2 year old will learn much different than say a 4 year old. These developmental difference should be taken into account when developing a curriculum for dance classes. If a dance school has a well thought out preschool curriculum that is a good sign.
  • How do you split our age groups?
    • Here is what we use in our program. 18 months – 2 years, 2-4 years, and 3-5 years. We feel these age groups work well. Within the 2-4 year old age group most kids transfer up to the next level when they turn 4. However we leave a slight overlap in case a child isn’t quite ready for the additional structure or if they are not ready to break away from parents. If you see wider age ranges then that I would be concerned about the class being age approriate on either end. If you are keeping a 2 year old engaged you are likely losing a 5 year old’s focus, and the reverse is also true. Developmentally splitting the ages into smaller segments works best for the teachers, the families, and the dancer.
  • Who will be teaching the class?
    • It often surprises us how many schools leave their teens, a teacher’s aide, or a brand new teacher in with the preschool dancers. I think they do it believing that technique wise these are the easiest classes, so putting in a novice teacher or advanced student should be fine. That could not be further from the truth! As almost any parent can attest, a room full of 3 year olds will eat you alive if you are not properly trained as a teacher. They can be far more intimidating to teach than a room full of teens. Much like building a house, working with these age groups is chance to start with a good foundation. If your teachers are teaching bad habits at a young age, it may be difficult to break those tendencies later on. 
  • Can you describe the flow of the class?
    • A preschool dance class should not flow like a regular ballet class. You should hear terms like “action songs”, “props”, “freeze dance”, or “obstacle course” mixed in with warm up, stretch, and choreography. A preschool dancer will not be able to stand a ballet barre for 30 minutes of class or longer. While that is exactly what you want to hear for an older level ballet class, it does not work well with this age group.
  • How long are your classes?
    • 30-45 min classes are the norm for most kids under 5. That’s not to say a 60 min class wouldn’t work. If your dancer can handle a 1hr class each week, go for it!
  • Do you offer make ups?
    • Being parents ourselves we understand how difficult it can be to stay on schedule living with children. Things come up, tantrums happen, and kids get sick…a lot! Make sure your school offers plenty of make up options that work with your schedule. 
  • Can I cancel anytime?
    • You do not want to lock into a yearly or even a quarterly payment system when you have a preschool dancer. If you find an awesome school that keeps your dancer engaged this may not be an option. However even under the best circumstances you never know when a young child will just change their mind about a particular activity. Sometimes they just need a break, and sometimes they are really ready to move on.

Have any other tips? Be sure to add them to the comment section below.