We’ve put together some answers to frequently asked questions that parents of children without disabilities might have about including children with disabilities in dance.
Parents can help by being understanding and accepting and being careful not to judge other parents and their children. Try to think how it might feel for them, ask the parent if they’d like your child to say hi, or ask parents or dance teachers if there is anything you can do to assist.
Your child may have the opportunity to help a child with a disability or developmental challenge participate in dance. For example, they could become a buddy and provide support, assistance, confidence and a welcoming experience for a child with a developmental challenge.
At the same time they can learn to take on responsibility and learn what it is like for children with different abilities. This allows positive social experiences and social relationships to develop, creating a real sense of belonging to the community.
Within any group, including classrooms, there are always a wide range of abilities and behaviours. With a little planning teachers can usually make simple adaptations to activities and steps which don’t take up much time. Teachers are encouraged to pay equal attention to each child, regardless of their ability. If you notice the teacher may need an extra set of hands to make the class run smoother, perhaps ask if you can be of any assistance.
Some children with disabilities might need a buddy or friend to help them be involved in a dance class or performance. A buddy can help a child with a disability feel included and help the child participate in the activities and learn the steps. Just saying “hi” and offering help can really make a difference.
Having a code of behaviour established in the very first class can be very helpful. The code is the same for all children and the emphasis is always on having fun. There are tips on the AllPlay website such as allowing children time to take a break to calm down, and allowing parents and buddies to help.
Most problems can be avoided if dance programs and classes are well planned and a clear code of behaviour is established and reinforced from the outset.