Back to School: How to Ease Your Students’ Transitions and Promote a Healthy Studio Environment
August 30, 2022

As the summer ends and the school year begins, it’s time to prioritize adjustments in your new schedule.

Between fall registration, class placements and calls with prospective families, this time of year can feel overwhelming. Your incoming students will also experience adjustments as they now must balance academic coursework with their busy dance schedules.

Here are some tips to consider as you prepare for a smooth year ahead.

Prepare Now

It’s never too early to start planning for the upcoming year. To start, create shared calendars for your teachers. This can help to ease the coordination of classes, along with daily studio openings and closings. Then, stock your supplies. Craft a checklist of what needs to be refilled from the previous year. Paper, pens, disposable masks, hand soap and paper towels are just a few that you’ll want readily available. And, lastly, buy in bulk. Packable snacks like trail mix, pretzels and granola bars can all be stored at the studio for use throughout the year. Be considerate of the fact that some of your students might travel directly from school to the studio, so having snacks on hand can support their energy replenishment.

Schedule Breaks                                 

As an educator and/or studio owner, you have an incredible opportunity to provide your dancers with the tools needed for a successful dance career. Scheduled breaks are important for dancers partaking in multiple classes each day. Consider at least a five-minute gap between back-to-back classes. This allows students to, at the bare minimum, grab a snack and rehydrate.    

Emphasize Nourishment

Busy schedules make it easy for dancers and dance educators to undereat. Not eating enough leads to irritability, lack of concentration and even injury. Providing your students with the right resources is important, but it can be challenging to decipher what is sound advice. Anecdotal experience and/or unaccredited certifications do not warrant credible nutrition teaching. Rather, studios are encouraged to consult with registered dietitians (RDs) and licensed dietitians (LDs) for workshops, printable resources and individual referrals. Since nutrition science is constantly evolving, dietitians are held to important academic standards and oversight to ensure that individuals, like dancers, receive appropriate interventions.        

Support Mental Health

Mental illness is becoming increasingly common among teens. According to Dr. Rachel Goldman, a clinical psychologist, “studies have shown that approximately one in five teens between the ages of 12 and 18 suffer from at least one diagnosable mental health disorder, and globally, one in seven 10- to 19-year-olds experience a mental disorder.” Goldman suggests that “because it is a normal part of development for teens to experience a wide range of emotions, oftentimes they need a little more support and help.” Educators can play a role in supporting the mental health of their dancers, and, according to Goldman, education is “key to help break the stigma associated with mental illness.” As with nutrition education, schedule workshops with psychologists and licensed therapists to help your dancers build a toolbox of support.

Have Fun

It’s easy to forget that back-to-school season isn’t just about adjusting to a new school year. It’s also about having fun with your incoming dance family!

Model balance by promoting fun experiences. If your time is limited, consider initiating a parents’ committee to oversee cast parties, group ticketing for live student performances, and meet-and-greets between senior dancers and newcomers. Encouraging community can help to support an overall healthy environment at your studio.

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