Speaking from experience, having a child that dances is expensive, let alone more than one child! And the same can be said for many after school activities. But it is not just class fees that makes activities expensive, the time and travel to get there is also costly, especially for parents who are foregoing paid employment to get children to the activities. Consequently, the cost/benefit analysis that goes on in a parent’s mind should be a necessary consideration dance schools, and providing real value is essential.
Both my children have participated in a number of different activities over the years. There has been – sports (swimming, gymnastics, tae kwon do), music – various instruments, drama, parkour and dance (most forms). My daughter (15) now focuses on dance and my son (12) on music. They have enjoyed most of their after-school activities but looking back, the reasons for stopping the activity mainly came from me. Either I didn’t feel part of the learning process and so I didn't really understand what they were doing or what they were getting from the lessons, or the logistics were too hard. Participation costs didn’t really differ that much, especially when you took into account travel and time lost at work or the cost of childcare to deliver them to the activity. So it wasn’t really the price of classes that made the difference between continuing or stopping.
I suspect I am not alone here and that the deciding factor for many parents is the perceived value of the activity, understanding its benefits to the child, relative to the energy and effort that parents have to put it to it.
Benefits gained from an activity are not all created equal. For example, I do want a welcoming peer group or team environment for my child, perhaps with fitness benefits and maybe even some bonus childcare time, however for many types of activities (like music and dance) this is not my main motivation. I am really after my child gaining a specific skill that has added 'spin off' benefits such as improving focus, determination, resilience and grit. I want my children to learn how to dance or play an instrument well and develop an interest in what they are doing, but I don’t expect them to become expert or be particularly talented. And, I want them to get as much as is possible out of the time they and we as parents put in.
In terms of gaining skills and enhancing learning, research (and common sense) suggests that individualised teacher feedback is more effective than group-based feedback. I can see the value in my child receiving individual attention and feedback based on their needs (otherwise they could learn the skill off YouTube and I wouldn’t have to sit in rush hour traffic all afternoon!). So, I will happily pay for a private music or dance lesson. But these are not always possible, so how can we enhance the group environment and make it more individualised?
Many dance schools and teachers now take advantage of technology for video sharing and creating a social learning environment to provide more value. This benefits parents, students and dance schools and anecdotally is making a difference. It is enabling better use of different teaching strategies and styles (e.g., the ability for students to prepare, to self-assess and correct, to feedback individually, to pick up choreography they have missed, to reinforce technical aspects outside class time, to goal set and review). Parents can share in the learning process, they can see what their child needs to work on, reinforce what they are doing and well and better understand the cost vs benefits. With Movitae the child and parent are both involved in the learning (if they want to be), teachers can provide individualised feedback even in group situations and students can be tasked to comment back the corrections they have learnt and any others they may see (privately or to the group). Granular sharing provides a flexible and safe platform for different learning objectives and importantly it can easily be used to provide a great value add for your school. How much is this extra value worth?
To a school the fee cost might be the retention of 1-2 students a year that would otherwise have left. Or it might be $0 if the school choses a student self-subscribe model.
To parents it is the cost of around one private lesson per year. Would you pay this for enhancing your child’s learning in an activity you are already investing time, effort and money in?