How frustrating does it feel when a parent questions and mistrusts your training plan for dancers? Questions may stem from a variety of areas: song selection, costume choice, choreographic decisions, technical training, routine placement, amount of routines, or behavior in class (to name a few possibilities…). When mistrust emerges, it negatively impacts the studio experience for all involved parties.

The research surrounding the importance of trust in the parent-teacher relationship in schools is abundant, and the information directly translates to the dance studio environment. Dance Instructors spend a lot of time with students: teaching dance, encouraging life skills and lessons, and having fun. In order for the relationship to be most effective and productive, the parent has to support and trust the teacher/studio in a positive partnership.

When the support and trust between the parent/teacher/studio is strong:

  • the dancer will have a more valuable experience
  • the dancer will not be as inclined to play the parent versus the instructor in an attempt to avoid a task or situation
  • with communication, problems can be addressed and accomplishments can be acknowledged

PBS offers a great article concerning the importance of the parent-teacher partnership. One of the most resonating quotes from the article states:

“A positive parent-teacher relationship helps your child feel good about school and be successful in school,” advises Diane Levin, Ph.D., professor of education at Wheelock College. “It demonstrates to your child that he can trust his teacher, because you do. This positive relationship makes a child feel like the important people in his life are working together.

The article also offers some tips for improving the parent-teacher partnership:

  • Approach the relationship with respect.
  • Let your child develop his/her own relationship with the teacher.
  • Try not to brag.

Other tips include:

  • Communicate regularly.
  • Be transparent.
  • Be open to problem solving.
  • Show gratitude and appreciation.
  • Avoid making excuses.
  • Maintain professional boundaries.

When a concern or issue arises, approach the issue from a collaborative perspective. Do not engage in gossip with other parents or students; instead, take the problem directly to the source.A studio that is invested in your child’s success will be willing and eager to discuss the topic of concern if it is relevant and applicable to a child’s dance training and/or well-being.

Dance Instructors (like most educators) are passionate people that are willing to go above and beyond in the investment of their students, but when a parent questions the professional integrity of an instructor (in any regard), it can strain the working relationship.

If you cannot trust your teacher or studio, the best option may be to consider another training facility. The success of our work is dependent upon strong parent-teacher partnerships. If we work together, we can make a positive, lasting impact and experience for our dancers. After all, as the African proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child.”


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