Beating the “after school blues” and getting the most out of your dance class

Each year, in term 1, we do see a common trend. Our children have just enjoyed a relaxing six week break off EVERYTHING only to be thrown straight back in to the deep end. And by “deep end” I mean school; 6-8 hours a day of exhausting mental stimulation, all that learning, playing, running around and adjusting to everyday life, responsibility and independence. That hot Aussie sun that is famous in Term 1, takes a toll on their bodies too. These kids are coming to dance TIRED.

2021 is proving to be an even bigger adjustment. Some people would say it has been a tsunami wave of work, social life, commitments and just existing outside of your house to adjust to…those people would be, me. Given that most of us spent 2020 at home, with no activities or appointments to run around to and now the new year has kicked off with a bang, we have gone from zero to a hundred and so have these kids! I heard one lovely MSF mum say she had actually gone from zero to 4000, and I think many parents would feel the same. Even though they might not be able to articulate it, the children are feeling that too.

It may seem impossible now, but I promise you, your child is capable of overcoming this little bump in the road and having an absolutely awesome year of dancing, filled with learning, progress, friendships and FUN!

There are few things that will help this happen.

1. WATER: Ensure you/your child has had a sufficient amount of water, everyday, but especially the day and night before a big activity and throughout the day leading up to class. Not only will this keep them hydrated, it will increase their brain power, energy levels and help keep them focused and alert. If your child is extra sleepy or lethargic after school, they may not have had enough water. When we are extra thirsty, our body can crave sugar. Try not to give in to this – don’t fill your child up with cordial, soft drinks or energy drinks as this will actually make them more dehydrated and give them a burst of the sillies. If you think they might be dehydrated, try electrolyte tablets for a kickstart before exercise.

2. FOOD: The dancing kids hear us talking about food a lot. We loooovveee food! Food is our fuel, it gives us energy and focus. Make sure your child has a nutritious lunch and an after school snack before dance class. A healthy snack that provides long lasting energy is best. Try to avoid chips, lollies or sugary snacks as these will only provide a short burst of energy (usually a bit of craziness) before a crash landing back into sleepy-vill. Try to avoid big meals too – no one does well in a dance class with a food coma and a food baby (just ask me). Some good snack ideas: banana, muesli bar, yoghurt, healthy sandwich, fruit and nuts etc. Our cars don’t run without fuel and neither do our bodies. EAT.

3. FRESHEN UP: Before dance class, or whenever you or your child need a little boost through out the day, freshen up by washing your face and redoing your hair. It is such a simple thing to do, just like restarting your computer when it starts slowing down. Washing their face washes the day away and wakes them up ready to start again with focus and a fresh attitude. Brush their hair. Everybody is familiar with the hairstyles that come home from school, they are usually very different from the ones that get dropped off in the morning. By brushing their hair and pulling it off their face, not only will they look like a presentable dance student but they will be focused without hair on their face to distract them.

4. GET CHANGED: MSF do have a uniform in place and it is an important factor in the way our students embrace class. Getting changed out of their school uniform, gets them out of “school mode” and allows them to let go of everything that has already happened that day. Putting on a clean and dry dance uniform will help them reset and get in the zone for dance class. Changing socks and undies too might sound a little silly (and like more washing for mum and dad) but being fresh and clean all over can lift spirits and refresh our energy levels for what the rest of the day has in store for us.

5. GET ORGANISED: Prepare your dancing clothes, shoes and snacks the night before. That way you don’t have to come home and frantically look for all your bits and pieces. If you’re coming straight from your school, have your bag packed and in the car, when you leave in the morning.

6. DON’T GET COMFY: If you have time to pop home between school and activities, try to take it easy but don’t get too comfortable. Avoid watching tv or getting caught up in activity that will distract you from getting ready for class. Get changed as soon as you get home and eat your healthy snack at the table so that you don’t succumb to the very tempting afternoon slouch!

7. DON’T GIVE UP: My main piece of advice, and probably the most important, is not to quit now. Your child is resilient and capable of making this huge adjustment – they are already doing it and so are you! Pulling them out now will only set them further back and they will eventually have to start this adjustment process all over again. Coming home from school or dance tired, is completely normal. It’s a sign of a hard worker, of a little body doing big things and a person who has put themselves out there to make friends, build new skills and have fun…yes, having fun is exhausting but in the best way! Pushing through this short tough period will teach your child that they are capable of overcoming more than they think and that when things can get hard, you don’t have to quit.

Don’t forget, your dance teachers are adjusting too! Some of us spent most of 2020 on the couch watching Netflix and ordering Uber Eats, and by some of us, again, I mean me. We understand how you feel because we’re feeling it too. We are in this together so let’s take our time, be kind to ourselves but let’s not give up!

By Chloe Jobson – Fulltime Dance Studio Owner and Part Time Sloth.