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My Child didn't Participate at their Trial Dance Class...

A dancer looks nervous as she performs in her dance showcase
My Child DID NOT Participate in their Trial Dance Class

My Child didn't Participate at their Trial Dance Class. What does that mean?

Truth is, it's totally normal! Children can feel anxiety in new situations, whether the anxiety is caused from separation from a parent, because they are in a new situation, or they aren't fully comfortable around a class full of strangers! In some cases, that could just be how your child learns. There are several reasons your child may not dance at their first Trial Dance Class! We are here to tell you... do not to throw away those dance shoes quite yet!

Miss Jessica has spent 20 years learning about child development, and one thing she has learned is that children all learn and grow at their own pace! This includes how quickly a child may or may not become acclimated in a new situation. Some children may enter a new environment and perform just fine, while others could take several weeks to warm up. That's why we allow children who have signed up for a Trial Dance Class up to two more weeks to come back if they didn't participate at their first class.

What can I do to ensure my child has a successful Trial Dance Class?

First, it's important to determine why they may not participate the first time. The primary reasons we have a found that a child won't participate at their first Trial Dance Class are:

  1. Separation Anxiety - If your Trial Dance Class is listed as a Kiss-And-Go Class, this means that you kiss your child goodbye when dropping off and you stay outside of the room for the duration of the class. If you know your child has struggled in other scenarios (such as other classes or preschool) where they must separate from you try the tips below to help prepare them for their Trial Dance Class. How can you prepare your child for their Trial Dance Class? - It's important to talk with them before hand to provide clear expectations so they know what to expect. For example, "I'm so excited that you get to try your first dance class today! I can't watch but I will be right outside and you can show me everything you learn when you are all done!" Let them know where you will be while they are dancing, and that if they need anything you are right outside! Let them know that you are so excited to see what they learned and that you know they will have so much fun!

A Little Ballerina snuggles on a Flamingo Toy in her first Ballet class at Dance Exploration
Snuggling on a Teddy Bear is known to reduce separation anxiety. Sending your child to their first few dance classes with a Comfort Buddy is a great way to reduce separation anxiety in young children!

If your child has tried their first Trial Dance Class and didn't want to separate from you, you can try the following at their next Trial Dance Class: - Send your child with a Comfort Buddy! A Comfort Buddy is an item from home that helps soothe them. It can be a favorite stuffed animal, a blankie or sometimes even a favorite outfit (we welcome everyone in their Elsa and Spider Man Costumes). We welcome all Comfort Buddies and have a system to work them into all parts of our class even if they are just audience members!

2. Visual & Auditory Learners! A common reason a child may not participate right away in their Trial Dance Class, is because they are a Visual or Auditory Learner! Miss Jessica has studied the 4 learning modalities known as VAKT (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic and Tactile). Visual Learners are the learning types who like to sit and observe before doing. Auditory Learners like to listen and understand and before responding. Of the four learning types, these two are the least common to involve their entire body in a new activity (as compared to the tactile (hands on) and kinesthetic (whole body) counter parts)! How can you prepare your child for their Trial Dance Class? If you know your child is a Visual or Auditory learner, you can let them know before hand that watching and observing the class is just fine. We never want to force a child to participate before they are comfortable, this will only cause further anxiety and withdrawal from the activity. Assuring them that watching first is an acceptable way to learn and that they only have to dance when they feel comfortable is important. Their dance instructor will also mimic these statements when they are in class. You can even let your child know, that at Dance Exploration, we recognize children who observe as active participants in class and will even receive a sticker even if they don't perform a single dance step! If your child sat and watched their First Trial Dance Class and did not participate, it is most likely they identify as one of these two learning types. Don't worry! Just because they are watching or listening DOES NOT mean they aren't interested in dance! This is just how they learn! You may even notice that when they are at home, in a more comfortable environment, they show you all the dance moves they observed (visual learners) or tell you the names of the all the dance moves they heard (auditory learners). We promise you, give them a few weeks and before long they will be dancing EVERYWHERE!

A tiny ballerina twirls in her tutu while her dance teacher smiles and watches in Castle Rock Dance PreBallet Class
Miss Jessica is a Visual Learner, she did not participate at her first dance class either! Her parents didn't give up and she has gone on to have an incredible career in dance!
FUN FACT! Miss Jessica is a visual learner! When she first started dance class she REFUSED TO DANCE! She sat and observed classes for 3-4 weeks before taking her first bourrée step. She remembers feeling anxious about everyone seemingly knowing what to do when she had never performed a single dance move. She wanted to watch and observe and feel confident she could perform the steps before trying them herself! She remembers the day she took her first dance class and participated in the whole class! Her teacher and dance friends were so supportive. After that first class it was a matter of time before she wanted to learn more dance styles. Soon she was being fit in her first pair of pointe shoes! From there, the rest was history! Had her mom and dad pulled her out after that first week she would have never gone on to dance professionally for 7 years. She wouldn't be a small business owner. She wouldn't have shared the art of dance with thousands of children across Colorado with her after school dance program! She's thankful that her parents didn't give up and allowed her to dance, learn and grow at her own pace!

3. Social Anxiety! Your child may not have participated fully in their Trial Dance Class because they feel anxious around new people! Social Anxiety can plague adults, so expecting a child to feel any different in a new situation with new friends, seems inequitable. Children can experience social anxiety just as much as adults can! The best thing you can do for your child if you know they suffer from Social Anxiety is to prepare them for their Trial Dance Class before hand.

Let them know what to expect for example, "You will have the chance to dance with a dance teacher and she is going to teach you and your friends some really fun dance moves! It's okay if you don't get it right or don't want to do something right away, that's why you can come back and practice every week!"

Let them know where you will be for example, "I will be in the lobby waiting for class to end! I can't wait to see everything you learn!"

If your child has tried their first Trial Dance Class and felt too scared to participate, you can try the following:

- Provide them with some coping techniques! Deep breathing is a great calming exercise. Instruct them to take 2-3 deep breaths anytime they feel scared or anxious. We start every class with a breathing exercise to calm us! if they have a favorite breathing exercise, tell them they can share it with their teacher, we may even incorporate it into the class!

- Send them with a water bottle or chewing beads! Oral sensations like drinking water or chewing on a necklace can create a calming effect for children who are feeling anxious in new situations.

- Like children with Separation Anxiety, having a Comfort Buddy is a great way to reduce anxiety. A quick snuggle with their favorite teddy bear can make anyone feel safer in a new situation.

You can schedule your Trial Dance Class with Dance Exploration here. If your child doesn't participate right away, you are invited to try up 2 more Trial Dance Classes. Simply send us an email at and we will give you the steps and tools to continue to work with your child so they can have a successful dance experience!


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