Should you Enroll your Child in Online Virtual Dance Lessons?

Has your dance school closed and is now only offering online dance classes? Or are they open but offering a virtual option for those wanting an alternative to in-person lessons? Are you unsure if virtual lessons are going to be best for your child? I had to make the decision recently to enroll my dancers in

When their are no in-person options, you should definately consider enrolling children who are motivated and enthusiastic to learn dance into virtural dance lessons. Online dance classes have their benefits such as their convienience, ability to let you learn almost anywhere and provide fitness & movement opportunities that may not arise otherwise.

My daughters went through several months of online and virtual dance last year and they both had different experiences, mainly because of their age but also because of their learning styles and motivation. My eldest daughter although not preferring virtual lessons to in-person classes turned up and tried her best at home in her bedroom for each class trying to learn more and hone her craft. On the other hand, my younger daughter only lasted half of the first term, and even when enrolled in fewer classes of a more preferred style, was unable to keep motivated throughout the second term and which we struggled to complete again. Many factors led to her disengagement, but now she is back in the classroom she is much happier!

What to consider before enrolling in online or virtual dance classes

Virtual dance classes with your dance studio are in real time

This means that unlike watching a YouTube video or pre-recorded dance lesson you child cannot pause the video and come back to it later. They need to be present for the entire lesson and interact with their teacher through the screen.

Do you have the technology needed?

What screen will your child be using to watch the lesson through? Do you have a good internet connection and wifi plan for streaming the lesson? What device has a camera, microphone and access to the app your teacher will be using? Is this device big enough for your child to view their lesson on or will you have to mirror or screen share?

Are you willing to pay the same amount of money for online classes?

The fact of the matter is changing to online teaching and learning and creating lessons for this format is a lot of hard work and your dance teacher is probably still having to pay the rent on their currently unused studio, so going online is not saving them any money, which means they are generally not going to charge you less for this different but similar service.

How many classes will you enroll in?

Learning online can be difficult for some children, and so you might want to consider whether you feel your child will be engaged and motivated to learn virtually doing the same amount of lessons online as they usually take in-person. Choosing to enroll your child in their favorite style rather than everything online may help their experience and commitment to their lessons.

The Benefits of taking Virtual and Online Dance Classes

1. So Convenient – No drive time, or finding parking etc..

I have to say, one of the best benefits as a parent was the fact that we didn’t have to get ready and drive to lessons anymore. I didn’t have to pack up younger siblings, pack ballet bags and snacks, and everything else that goes with getting to afterschool activities.

2. Something to look forward to

When your child isn’t able to attend many other activities having online dance lessons every week are something to look forward to and allow for some normality in their life. It also brings with it stability and routine knowing that every week they have a commitment to attend.

3. Allows students to continue with their learning

When in-person classes are not available for any reason, having the opportunity to take their dance classes virtually means that your child has continuity to their educational experience. If they are preparing for an exam, competition or recital, they are still able to learn all the routines and steps to help prepare them for these events and not have to miss out or catch up later.

4. Opportunity for exercise

When you are stuck at home and unable to get out a lot, taking online dance lessons gives your child the opportunity to move their body and get some exercise. It can also motivate them to move more as they practice and rehearse the things they are learning in class, out of class!

5. Stay in touch with teachers, classmates and friends

One of the best things about doing virtual lessons, when you can’t get into the studio is the fact that they allow you to stay in contact with your friends and teacher. Depending on the screen view, your child will be able to see their friends on the screen and say hello – especially as many dance teachers now play games and do other fun activities during real time lessons with their students to keep engagement and motivation up throughout the lesson, enticing their students to look forward to the next time they all meet.

The Disadvantages to taking Virtual and Online Dance Classes

1. Space

A dance studio is a big empty space so that dancers have ample room to move around. Your home may not be able to accommodate the same kind of space for your dancer to move in. That being said, it is easy to move furniture around to make more space for your child’s dance class. What is not so easy is changing the flooring, as dancing on carpet or tiles is not the greatest and why dance studios have special sprung floors and vinyl coverings such as Marley or Tarket over them.

2. Equipment

You many not have a ballet barre or other equipment your child needs at home such as appropriate flooring for tap lessons that your child needs to adequately carry out their lesson.

3. Impersonal

Although your teacher will try their hardest to address your child throughout the online lesson, it can be hard for them to see your child or for your child to get their attention like they usually would during an in-person lesson. This is one of the reasons my then 5-year-old was not successful at keeping up with her lessons. To be engaged and motivated she needed a more hands-on approach and feedback-driven studio environment.

4. Hard to See

Depending on your teacher’s setup, it may be hard for your child to see exactly what their teacher is doing on the screen. This can be both because of your teacher’s setup or your own. I found that some teachers who were forced to also teach from their own homes did not have enough space and we found at times we were staring at their legs. Or if they were in a studio and had enough space, if we were only using an ipad because our mirroring option to the large television wasn’t working, it was hard to see the teacher on our end.

5. Difficult to receive corrections and feedback

Again although your teacher will try their best to correct your child and give them feedback, it is harder for them to see exactly what your child is doing especially if they have a class of several children and their screen has little squares for each child. Your setup may mean the teacher can’t see your whole child such as only from the waist up for example which also won’t help. Corrections will be missed in this situation, which is why in-person teaching will always win over virtual and online lessons.

So, Should you enrol your child in Online or Virtual Dance Lessons?

At the end of the day, you are never really going to know how your child is going to take to online dance lessons until they try them. So give them a chance – especially if there are no in-person lesson options available to you!

If you are concerned about paying for lessons that your child may stop attending discuss this with your studio or dance teacher. Can they offer a trial period or could you decide to enroll your child into one lesson a week instead of more to ensure they stay motivated and enthusiastic learning online! Although this may hurt your dance studios income in the short term, if you insist on your child doing all their online lessons because you paid for them, they may just come away from the experience not wanting to go back to dance again – which is important for both teacher’s and parents to acknowledge.

About the Author

Samantha Bellerose

Samantha is a wife and mother of four kids aged 3-11. She danced and acted from the age of 5 and performed in film clips, on television, and in musical theatre professionally. She also taught dance, but after leaving the profession to backpack through Europe, Canada and the USA with her husband for three years, she then completed an Education Degree and taught within primary schools in Australia. Today she is a business owner with her husband and the creator and writer for Dance Parent 101 where she hopes her previous experience as a dancer, current experience as a dance parent and the research and writing skills she gained completing her education degree will help enlighten parents on their journey with their child through the world of dance.