April 29, 2013
My daughters 4 and 6 dance for a local school. The two sisters who run it treat the parents horribly. They have a “drop and go” rule, which they enforce very strictly. You are not even allowed to sit in the changing area !! (there is no viewing area). I do not feel comfortable even leaving my 6 year old there because they are so covert. To whom can I complain? They are the only school in my area. Does any licensing board oversea Irish dance teachers? I do not think in this day and age one should get yelled at for staying nearby a child’s lesson – not to mention watch for a little to see where they are in the learning curve. Advice??
I’m sorry to hear that you have been struggling with your teacher’s methods. Parent Observation in classes is an issue that I struggle with as far as my opinion.
One side suggests that keeping parents out of the classroom is beneficial. Believe it or not, your child’s behaviour changes when you are there! Some kids are better behaved because they know a parent is there and the expectation is present. Some kids become more distractable- Mummy is there to hang out with, ask for sweets or complain to. Some parents are also very distracting- they may set up a regular chat-fest in the room, making it impossible to speak over. Some teachers feel they are not able to teach naturally when under a parental microscope.
The other side of the coin shows that there is a certain atmosphere of distrust and secrecy set up when a teacher teaches behind closed doors. While I am sure the governing bodies of most dance organizations would prefer that classes are safe for children, there are not any rules set forth regarding observation of classes. Therefore, complaining to governing boards might not do much good. I personally feel that if a child is small, say aged 4-8, there should be visual access to the child in their class. There should be an observation window or the door should be open. In our tradition there is enough history of mental and physical abuse that I feel this is paramount.
Please talk to your teachers. Explain that you would like to be able to help your child by taking notes, keeping them behaving, and helping them feel safe. It is common practice for most dance and gymnastics studios to have a “parent observation week” where the parent is welcomed into the classroom. Perhaps a combination of this and an open door would help you and other parents feel there is an atmosphere of trust.
I’m sorry that there are no other schools as transfer options. While I am generally against transfers as a whole, I believe emotional abuse such as yelling at children in a non-encouraging way is grounds for a change of school. It is far, far too prevalent in the Irish Dance world. And if they are yelling at you, you had better believe they are yelling at your child.
I welcome more thoughts on the subject, and would appreciate replies. Let’s get a discussion going!