When children are younger, parents are the ones who set the priorities for their child – what time they wake up and go to bed, what foods they eat at meal time, when it is time to play and when it is time to clean up the toys.
At the elementary school level, the children have their parents’ guidance in arranging their schedule for extra-curricular activities (like dance) as well as fitting in time to get the schoolwork done. At all times, school is a child’s priority – it is kind of their job, right?
As parents monitor their children’s time, the child starts to learn that there are activities that are important and have a higher priority in their lives because they have made a financial and time commitment to be in that activity. Sometimes parents and dancers have to make some hard choices. When Miss Desirae was in Grade 5 her class was going on a ski trip to Table Mountain in North Battleford. The trip was an optional activity so if a student didn’t go on the ski trip, they were expected to spend the day at school in the library. That sure didn’t sound like as much fun as going with the class on a ski trip. Miss Desirae’s parents had a discussion with her about why they didn’t think it was a good idea for her to go on the ski trip. As an inexperienced skier, she was taking a chance of being injured. At that time, she was:
- preparing for a Ballet and a Tap examination that were coming up in a few weeks
- in 4 different competition groups
- had 4 solos and 2 duets to perform for dance competitions
- also she had figure skating lessons, figure skating tests, competition and a year-end show coming up
Although she wasn’t too thrilled with having to miss the ski trip, she agreed that it would be really awful if she couldn’t be part of her dance and figure skating activities just because of one day of skiing. The next day after school, Miss Desirae told her mom and dad that one of the girls fell and broke her collar bone and she wouldn’t be able to compete at a synchronized figure skating competition or at the year-end show. She was appalled that the girl’s parents let her go on a dangerous ski trip instead of thinking about her figure skating commitments and letting down her team mates!
When they are in their teen years, dancers have to assume some responsibility for themselves. Are they going to play video games or do stretching to improve their flexibility for dance? Are they going to go to dance rehearsal or go with their friends to the shopping mall? Or there is a competition coming up next weekend. It would probably be a really good idea to get the homework that is due next Monday done now instead of getting into a panic at the last moment because it didn’t get done when there was some free time available. These are all situations that come up for dancers that are really involved in their dance training. By learning to set priorities when they are younger, teen age dancers can learn to make wise decisions when conflicting activities force them to make a choice about how they are going to spend their time.
Miss Desirae’s parents put her in dance class when she was young because she started dancing to music as soon as she was able to walk at 9 months old (not in dance classes, of course, but she would dance along to the music and show off her fancy moves! She especially liked Rasputin by Boney M). One of the goals her parents had was to find an activity that would keep her busy and out of trouble when she was a teenager. Little did they know that by putting Miss Desirae into dance class that dance would become her life’s passion!
One evening when she was about 12 years old, Miss Desirae’s mom picked her up from dance class. She saw some kids hanging out in front of a convenience store smoking and goofing around and Miss Desirae observed, “Don’t they have something more important to do? That doesn’t look very exciting or interesting to me!” And her mom was silently thinking, “Yes!” She also gave herself a mental ‘Hi 5’.
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While dance teaches student discipline and how to follow the teachers instructions, it also stimulates a child’s creativity. Studies are now emerging that indicate that children need arts not just math, science and tech. We recently posted an article from The Guardian in England that pointed out the many areas that are positively effected by a dance education.