Preventing Pre-Class Meltdowns

Q:  Four students dropped out of my program in one week, and each mom cites the same reason: Her child is too cranky, tired and fussy on the way to class, and there are fights before every session about everything, from the wardrobe to the car ride. Once the kids are in the studio, they love it and have fun; however, the parents have had enough. What can I do to ease the pre-class meltdowns and keep my otherwise happy students enrolled?

A: After working a full day and juggling multiple kids’ schedules, parents dread the simple tasks, like tying back hair and dressing their children in tights and leotards—let alone getting to class on time. Offering a few conveniences will show that you understand their everyday struggles and want their time at your studio to be stress-free. For dressing mishaps, we keep a large supply of hair elastics in our office, have separate changing areas for students and have a used-shoe swap for trading or borrowing in case a shoe goes missing. We also have a juice and water vending machine in case students didn’t have time to grab a water bottle at home, and working parents who are waiting for their children in class can enjoy the free Wi-Fi we offer in our lobby.

Keep in mind that students will drop out for various reasons, regardless of the quality of your classes or commitment to their progress. Make sure to tell parents that it’s common for young students to have periods of fatigue, and this does not always mean they’re losing interest. Let families know that you understand their decision and will welcome them back if they choose to return. We always send a note from the teacher thanking them for being in the class and encouraging them to try again in the future.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of

 Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

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