It starts with a creative dance class, gymnastics birthday party or perhaps tickets to The Nutcracker — and pretty soon your little one can’t stop twirling. Bring on the dance classes, bobby pins and an astonishing amount of laundry and driving. We’ve got some creative tips for raising happy ballerinas while keeping the rest of the family feeling great, too.
Finding and Planning Ballet Lessons
Do your research. Ask for references and recommendations for schools and teachers who are well-trained and offer developmentally-appropriate classes. Smart, supportive training is a must for happy ballerinas.
It’s okay to start slow. Burnout is always a risk for young performers – even if they’re genuinely passionate about their art form. Days, weeks, months and years of classes, auditions, rehearsals and performances can make anything feel like work. Since school and friendships are also important for growing kids, don’t be afraid to set reasonable limits on dance classes for early elementary school-age children.
Dress for success. Dancing apparel and ballet slippers can be pricey, so keep an eye out for affordable pieces. Find out if your child’s dance school has leveled leotard colors (such as blue for beginners, green for intermediate, etc.) and don’t stock up on a style or tone you’ll only need for a short period of time.
When isn’t hair a hassle? Little dancers often struggle with putting up their hair — and more senior ballerinas like to follow the bunhead trends. Hair accessories, brushes and holding sprays are a huge help. Keep some in a ready-to-go makeup bag and some neatly stored in her bathroom or bedroom.
When it’s time to go en pointe, do more research. Scour dance periodicals and talk with health professionals to make sure your child is ready to take on this exciting new challenge.
Plan those pirouettes to align with the rest of the family’s activities. Like select athletics and intense academic programs, becoming a dancer takes a lot of time. Make sure that your ballerina isn’t the only happy person in the house. Be supportive while making sure other family members feel their activities matter, too, by keeping a family calendar hung in a centralized location. And be sure to stock up on thank-you notes for folks who help out with carpools and other logistical challenges.
Keep her organized in style with a dance bag. Pick an amply-sized tote or duffel that she can load up in the morning, toss into your car and carry into the dance studio. Consider something with standout colors or a fun monogram to make it easy to spot in the dressing room pile.(Bonus Tip: Make emptying and restocking the dance bag part of her evening routine so she’s always got what she needs for the coming day.
Celebrate everyone. After giving her a standing ovation at the recital, celebrate with a meal that everyone who came to watch her enjoys. And be there to cheer at the soccer game or robotics competition, too. It’s impossible to predict which talent or interest a child will pursue into adulthood — and sometimes a performer becomes a scientist, or a quiet kid turns out a star — so support and encourage all of their passions, from dancing to reading.
Remember yourself.One of the best ways to raise a happy kid, ballerina or otherwise, is to be a happy parent. Set aside some time to read, journal or just relax; plan a night out with your partner or grown-up pals; and give yourself permission to announce an occasional “Family Day” when the #1 priority is time together. They’ll thank you later!