Choosing the right activity for your kids can be daunting. You don’t want to pay all that money only for them to lose interest halfway through the term. We asked a ballet teacher, singing teacher, swimming teacher and football coach to answer a few questions to help you in your decision about the right activity for your kids.

Rebecca Kidner Tiny Toes Ballet interview

Rebecca Kidner, Principal, Tiny Toes Ballet

How long have you been teaching ballet? Did you have a career as a ballerina prior to starting Tiny Toes?

I have been teaching ballet for 22 years now. I did full time professional ballet training and had the opportunity to follow my love of ballet overseas or stay with the love of my life (now husband) in Sydney. Here I am 25 years later still with this amazing man and our two gorgeous children. A ballet school with 1000 budding ballerinas and ballet danseurs, 12 amazing teachers, 6 gorgeous assistant teachers and 4 incredible office admin staff!

What is the benefit of ballet/dancing lessons for kids?

The benefits of ballet/dance lessons are endless. We are almost always a child’s first structured activity. The benefits of school readiness – lining up, taking turns, making circles, hands up before speaking, manners, following 3-5 part instructions, listening skills, learning choreography, social skills, co-operating, sharing, imagination, creativity, singing, use of animation and expression, performance experience, confidence, self-esteem, independence, full brain functioning, exercise for full body, co-ordination, strength, aerobic exercise, health, musicality, rhythm, exposure to the arts, learning from amazing role models (our assistant teachers and teachers), last but not least learning classical ballet and dance technique, vocabulary and style and the JOY of dancing!

What kind of skills, other than ballet skills, are parents going to see in their children?

Perseverance, resilience, determination, discipline, goal setting, always looking to be the best you can be, the ability to give and receive feedback. Learning dance helps creates an eye for detail. Children who learn dance generally grow up to be amazing at customer service and are wonderful at greeting others and including them. Dancers are known to have incredible work ethic. They know how to work in a group really well. They learn the ability to prioritise – they have windows of time for homework and dance and social life.

What has been your proudest moment as a teacher? And your most challenging?

I have so many proud moments as a teacher. My biggest joy is teaching a group of children from babies for years and watching them grow up and develop into the amazing individuals they all are. Developing a rapport with them and their families and still keeping in touch with them til this day. I have many students who I have taught in companies around the world, however I have the most affection for the ones who have completed their performing careers and are now teaching for Tiny Toes Ballet! It truly comes full circle. I love mentoring young women and girls and creating job opportunities for them. My staff and I treat every student as if they are our own children. We love our babies and their mums. They are our babies! I am incredibly proud of all my ex-students even if they haven’t gone on to become dancers. I know the skills they learnt dancing helped them become who they are today, making them more employable.

What advice would you give to parents who have a child who is shy but really loves to dance?

One of my very first ever students used to sit under my chair crying at the start of every ballet lesson when she was 5. She is now a lead dancer in ‘The Lion King’. Parents need to remember, as people some of us are introverts and some are extroverts. Children are not performing seals. Every child ‘cooks’ at a different rate. Some children need marinating and slow cooking, you cannot microwave confidence or dance technique. These children need extra patience, love, time and encouragement. We have a gorgeous Dance with Mummy/Daddy class for children who want/need a bit of time with their primary carer to help them get used to this new/exciting learning environment. All things come with time. Every flower blooms at a different rate.

How can parents encourage a passion in their child when they themselves don’t share that passion/skill?

Oh wow, I think as parents our job is to give hope, support and inspire each of our children and encourage any spark inside them. My Dad didn’t know anything about ballet. He would take me to auditions and sleep in the Green Room. It was so comforting to know that if he could sleep through an audition it mustn’t be as big and scary as I felt it was.

Sometimes I think it is better if you don’t know anything about your child’s chosen passion. If we did we would be so picky and terribly critical and probably not embark on the crazy journey!

As a ballet teacher, if you could let parents know one thing, what would it be?

Make sure you choose a ballet school that encourages the creative potential of your child. And enjoy the journey!

Tina Bangel singing coach interview

Tina Bangel, Vocal Coach, One Voice Singing School

How long have you been teaching singing/music? What made you decide to be a music teacher?

I have been teaching close to two decades. Being a teacher fell into my lap when the principal of the performing arts school I attended asked me if I wanted to teach a singing class as the previous singing teacher had left the school.

That same year I decided to study full time as a mature age student at the Australian institute of Music majoring in Contemporary Voice. I realised how much I loved making a difference in children’s lives.

What is the benefit of music/singing lessons for kids?

Studies have shown that singing produces

  1. Significant reduction in stress levels (related to both physical health and cognitive stress)
  2. An increased sense of personal wellbeing
  3. More self-confidence
  4. And a more positive self image

According to Professor Graham Frederick Welch “Voice is an essential aspect of our human identity: of who we are, how we feel, how we communicate and how other people experience us.”

What type of child do music/singing lessons suit?

Music and singing can be for any child who is ready. There are many music classes that cater for different ages and levels. So finding a class that suits the child is the key.

Be conscious about how your child responds to music, singing and the learning environment.

Do you notice your child flourishes in a group environment?

Do they flourish in a small intimate group or a big crowd?

Do they prefer to be with a parent when attending class?

Do they flourish and thrive with private coaching?

Be aware of how your child learns best.

What other skills are kids learning from attending music/singing lessons?

Children learn pattern recognition (rhythm), pacing (tempo)

Volume (loud and quiet) which help develop reading, language and speech.

They develop coordination, whole body and fine motor skills.

Most of all they gain self-confidence that can ripple into their school and personal lives.

What has been your proudest moment as a teacher?

My proudest moment is seeing my 12-year-old student, Jared, sing at the Sydney Opera House with Broadway star Lea Salonga (singing voice of Disney princesses Mulan and Princess Jasmine). Lea Salonga normally calls up a random audience member on stage to sing “A Whole New World” with her.

The day of the concert I messaged her to let her know Jared was in the crowd watching and it would be a dream come true if she called him up on stage. My heart dropped when I received a text from Jared’s dad saying it actually happened.

Only a year before this event he had written down a goal to sing at the Sydney Opera House and sing with someone famous.

As a teacher it’s important give my students space to dream. It’s my job to know their dreams and prepare them so when the opportunity comes they have the confidence to take it.

What advice would you give to parents who have a child who is shy?

I had the honour of asking this question to Oprah during her last visit to Australia. Here is what she said and I completely agree with her

Tina: My mission is to help kids be heard and give them confidence through singing. My question is: “What would you say to a child who is struggling to come out of their shell or feels afraid to step out of their comfort zone?”

Oprah’s answer: “The whole idea of working with children or anybody, is to let them know that you alone are enough. So all of your work is validating their sense of worthiness and their sense of being and you know the way to do that is to meet people not where you what them to be, but to meet them (even little people) exactly where they are.

So I think being able to take yourself to wherever the space is that they are holding and meet them in that space and find some common ground, adds a sense of validation wherever they are, cause what ever that story is, you want to be able to validate their story and then you work to try an elevate them to all that you know all the access that you have to offer to them. “

How can parents encourage a passion in their child when they themselves don’t share that passion/skill?

Surround your child and yourself with people and events that help nourish and nurture the passion and skill.

Enjoy the moments. Remember don’t place your expectations on your child. You don’t want the frustrated musician in you to come out and ruin the experience for your child.

Encourage them, challenge them but in a way that will help them grow and thrive as a person.

Trust the process and journey. Stick with it and don’t let them give up too easily.

What age is best to start singing/music lessons?

There are music classes that cater for babies as young as 3 months. I believe it’s a perfect start to nurture a young child. Singing lessons can start as young as 5 years old. I started singing lessons at the age of 19. Whichever age you start, the plan should be that they enjoy it and love the journey for life.

 

Jo Franklin, Centre Manager at Kingswim Dingley (Melbourne)

How long have you been teaching swimming?

I have been teaching kids how to swim for 8 years

What made you decide to become a swimming teacher?

I was in a class with my six year old son and was approached by the teacher to ask if I would be interested in becoming a swim teacher. It wasn’t something I had ever thought of before but it was the best decision I have ever made.

Other than the obvious benefit of learning to swim and keeping kids safe, what are the benefits of swimming lessons?

Interacting with other children, being a part of something and really swimming is a skill your child will take with them for life.

When a child is reluctant to get in the water and is visibly upset during swimming lessons, what advice would you give to parents?

It’s normal for a child to get upset, especially for their first time in the water. Let the teachers be the experts – this is what we are trained to do.

What are some myths about swimming lessons that you have heard?

It’s too cold to swim in Winter – my child will get sick and it’s not the best time of year to learn to swim. Funnily enough – swimming in winter is so beneficial for children. It allows continual growth, builds on the development and cognitive skills already in progress and also combats the winter blues and flus.

What has been your proudest moment as a swimming teacher? And your most challenging?

My proudest moment is when a child achieves a skill for the first time. It’s so rewarding knowing that you have helped that swimmer achieve that. My most challenging moment would be working with a particular child who was very apprehensive about getting into the water for the first time. However this also became my most rewarding moment as he was cared for so well by our team and took his first step into the pool at the age of 2. He is still a Kingswimmer today and doing exceptionally well.

When parents are choosing a swimming school, what should they be looking for?

Ensuring the program and centre is a right fit for not just your children but the whole family. At Kingswim, we take care of the little things to make swimming a joy for children and parents alike.

As a swimming teacher, if you could tell parents one thing, what would that be?

Swimming is an all year round sport even in Winter. There are so many benefits including developing skills faster in life and making friends forever.

How can parents help encourage their kids at swimming lessons?

Ensure they are watching the lesson and ensure they are staying on pool deck. Some children get very apprehensive if they cannot sight their parents.

Football coach interview

Charlotte Ercil, Bankstown United U14 Boys Football Coach

How long have you been coaching football? What made you decide to be a football coach?

This will be my third season coaching. I wanted to do something more than just playing football. Deciding to coach ultimately helped me as a player.

What is the benefit of football and other team sports for kids?

Playing football not only promotes health and fitness in a safe, economical and enjoyable environment, but it also helps to develop social skills such as team work, communication, social interaction etc.

What type of child does a sport like football suit?

Football is an inclusive sport suited to all ages, abilities, genders, nationalities etc. With this being said, football is for everyone and there are many types and variations to cater to all, that’s why it’s called the ‘world game’.

What other skills are kids learning from being involved in a football team?

Social skills, communication, teamwork, problem solving and decision-making.

What has been your proudest moment as a coach?

Hands down one of my fondest memories as a coach would have to be the year my team came first however the development of individual players overrides the ‘glory’ of winning a competition. The development of players from the start of the season to the end of the season reaffirms why most people choose to coach.

What advice would you give to parents who are thinking about starting with football but aren’t sure if there child will stick it out?

Football is one of the safest sports for parents to choose for their child. As well as this, there are a number of different variations to the sport to cater to all children: futsal, small-sided-games, summer football and various other programs.

How can parents encourage a passion in their child when they themselves don’t share that passion/skill?

I believe its more a mindset in instilling in the minds of their kids to take up a sport to stay healthy as well as make new friends.

What age is best to start playing a team sport?

The age of 5 is the ideal age for a child to play a team sport. There is now however football programs for 3-5 year olds to introduce them to the game.