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Every teacher and studio director has seen this - Students enrolling in your school, and then disappearing the next season. While there was evidence that some were unhappy and so may leave, others are a complete shock - kids who were enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy, parents who shared satisfied feedback; these should have come back for another season. And then there are the students who should be leaving, but don’t and come back season after season.
While students come and students go, is there anything someone can do about it?
The answer in many cases is yes, but there are times when students and the school should part ways.
Students leave their dance schools for various reasons, but the underlying factors remain the same when students are bucketed into two categories - the recreational dancers and those who are serious and committed and in it for the long term.
Reasons for why students leave vary with the school, geographic area, and people involved. Young, once-a-week dancers tend to drop out of dance school for logistical reasons, while advanced dancers usually leave for more complicated reasons. It could be something even as simple as wanting to be in a seasonal activity like joining a skiing class during winter or taking a long weekend off when there is a dance production scheduled.
Being creative and sharing dance schedules well in advance helps set expectations and reduces dropouts to a fair extent.
Here is a breakdown of the causes and solutions that you may want to consider holding on to your students
They are set on specific class time. For example, the only day she can come to the class she wants is a Tuesday but she is unable to make it due to other activities and settles for something else offered on Wednesdays. While she will attend this for a season or two, ultimately, knowing her heart is on another class which is unable to will make her discontinue.
As a teacher or director, you could attempt to find an alternative class on Wednesdays, that she might be more interested in or which will enable her to eventually pursue the dance form she is interested in.
They want to take a break from other activities, such as gymnastics, a popular choice for students who are 5 or 6. They want to try gymnastics for a year and then decide whether dance or gym is right for them.
Consider offering acrobatics if you don't already. Those who cannot decide after trying out gymnastics will be more interested in re-enrolling if the dance school offers acrobatics.
Students want to be in the same class as their friends. Many students choose a dance school based on where their friends go. They might love it at one studio, but they're willing to jump ship if their friends take a class at a different school.
If the parents share this as their reason for leaving, you could find a class that your student and her friend can take together at your school. This may encourage the friend to consider your school rather than pull your student to the school of her choice.
Your school's ballet requirement scares some students away. In many schools, it is imperative that students study or take a ballet class to participate in other dance subjects. This may not work for some students as they are uninterested in ballet, or unwilling to pay for two classes.
While it is essential for professionally tracked dancers to study ballet, you could relax the rule for recreational dancers. You could even dismiss the rule of having to take ballet simultaneously with another class if a student has done it during the previous year.
Families find the dance tuition too high. Some families always find paying for classes challenging, but in today's economy, this might be a deal breaker. They might choose to leave your school for one that has a lower monthly cost or that charges less for costumes, recital fees, or other added expenses.
Since tuition is based on expenses, most schools may not be able to reduce their tuition or charge less for classes. However, offering discounts could lessen the burden. Giving early bird discounts or referral discounts if more than one student signs tuition if they pay the entire year's tuition up front.
The reasons for intensive or competitive dancers' discontent may stem from an incompatibility between a school's offerings and the training needs arising from dancing ambitions. Given that there are no easy one-step solutions for these types of complicated reasons having an open and respectful communication with the student and their family keeps the experience positive.
Some students are incredibly talented and with such great potential that their current school cannot properly train them. In such cases, students should be encouraged to go elsewhere. Offering the student some suggestions for schools that could better offer her the training she needs keeps the discussion focused on the best interests of the dancer.
Another reason why a professional tracked student may leave is that he or she wants something that they are not ready for - often a soloist part or to be in the front row in a group performance.
While the student may be a good team member, she may not yet be ready to be a soloist. But her parents believe that she can do more and pull her out to put her into a smaller school where she can be the 'star' of the show. In these cases, the parents compromise training for opportunities to be to be soloists.
Similarly, parents may be miffed that their child is in the back row without understanding that their child's technique is not at par and the group's performance may be compromised if she were placed in the front.
Do you have a kid who has his or her heart set on joining a dance company?
Then you must accept the fact that the day will come when he or she will want to give up on their dance dream and their expensive dance gear. Here are some aspects you can consider to help your child gain perspective and figure out if she wants to quit or hang in there.
Advise for young dancers to stick in there.
Dance is a highly competitive field; the best method might be to go easy on the rewards and punishments and cultivate his internal motivation. Here are 5 ways to fire up the motivation:
Have them set goals. Make a list of short-term goals (how she would feel at the end of the class) and one of the long-term goals (next month or next year). Make sure the goals are attainable but still require work to get there. Ensure you and your child work together to choose the right goals.
Achieving goals requires planning. Help your kids develop a strategy to reach their goals and include a step by step plan as part of it. Young children need to visualize these steps so get your templates and make them appeal to their auditory and visual senses.
Small or significant, celebrate when goals are achieved. Instill a sense of pride when your child follows through the set plan, and celebrate together. While performing is the biggest reward for a dancer and provides a sense of accomplishment unparalleled, an outing with a friend, a favorite meal or shopping after dance class are also motivating and can get you through in the long haul.
Encourage healthy competition. Make competition about positivity and strength in regards to your child and never about negativity and weakness towards the competitor. If winning or moving forward is important to your son or daughter, help your child practice and be more disciplined. If possible, opt for private lessons.
There will always be better dancers surrounding your child. Encouragement to stick in there and follow their passion is very essential for your child. Do your best to dismiss self-doubt or fears and fill their bucket of self-esteem! Dance is a lifelong practice; always remind your child why he or she does it. And shower them with extra love when they do what is required!
There's a big difference between an occasional off day and actual dance burnout. You may need to consider a break from dance training if:
For these types of critical issues, you will need a strong support system. Begin by talking to your teacher or a trusted adult about taking a break. It is OK to step off the dance circuit for a week or even a year. It will help you gain perspective and taking a break is not the end of your relationship with dance!