I started teaching in after school clubs about 20yrs ago. With family life changing and schools trying to provide longer hours for working parents after school clubs really started becoming popular at that time. For a dance teacher, what better way to get a group of enthusiastic children into dance other than through a school, they are providing a longer school day and with creative activities!!
So, it’s a win win situation I hear you say?
In many ways yes, children who may not have considered doing any kind of dance at school have a good opportunity to do a club and try out some dance in their own environment and with their friends. Dance is a great form of exercise and getting children moving more is of course greatly beneficial.
There are however some negatives to the after-school club. The main downside for me is when there is a talented child in a class of 20 plus where ages can range from 5 – 11 years of age! Any teacher that teaches any subject will tell you that this isn’t an ideal situation as children’s capabilities are so different between those ages and dance is no different. The teacher will have great difficulty in finding a suitable structure to the class while still trying to develop each child’s needs and in the “talented dancer”, trying to nurture and advance him/her while also maintaining control of the class and moving it forward.
Parents should keep in mind that an after school should not be confused with a dance school, where classes are in appropriate ages and can therefore progress at a steady level spending more time on technique.
After school clubs are a great stepping stone for trying out dance and can be great fun but dance schools will have a group of children who are much more focused on learning dance in a more productive environment.
The after-school club should be more focused on “fun” in dance, but if your child is showing potential in dance and wants to do more classes, please don’t just stick to the after-school club but head over to a dance school too!