Dance Schools & Companies

How to use the Dance School resources

The resources here will help you to learn how to make your dance school more inclusive so that all kids can dance, regardless of ability. You can find information including how to modify your classes, overcome barriers to inclusion and find downloadable posters that can be used to promote inclusion at your dance school. There are many simple changes that dance schools can make to enable inclusion which will greatly improve the experience for all children, families and people who interact with your dance school.

What does inclusion mean?

Inclusive dance schools provide all community members equal access and opportunities to be involved in the dance classes offered at the school. Inclusion happens when all members of a community:

  1. Are presumed competent, are recruited and welcomed as valued members
  2. Fully participate and learn with their peers, and
  3. Experience reciprocal social relationships.

Children with disabilities and developmental challenges might include those who have limitations in mobility (difficulty or inability to walk), the way they think or behave (e.g. intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, behavioural/emotional disorders), and sensory difficulties (e.g. vision/hearing).

Dance schools need to consider a few different areas to become inclusive. This includes how dance classes are designed; how you provide information about classes so they are accessible; whether teachers and other staff are trained in disability awareness; the accessibility of your premises and whether your policies promote inclusion.

To offer inclusive dance lessons consider:

  • Accessible so the venue where dance classes are held is easy to approach, enter, and use safely and with dignity for someone with a disability
  • Designed so that persons with disabilities and without disabilities participate equally. Some class content, that is, dance exercises and routines may need to be adapted.
  • Have adapted equipment where appropriate to assist kids with disabilities to complete activities
  • Accommodating – such that classes can be modified to allow for inclusion and participation by kids with disabilities, for example, allowing an aide or caregiver to attend the class and help the child

 

Some children may join a class for a term or a year but then begin to notice that are not progressing at the same pace as their peers and drop out. To enable genuine inclusion dance teachers need to welcome a diverse range of students so a child with a disability doesn’t feel that they are the only one needing extra help. Match kids with similar skills can work well to support a child’s learning process, as long as age differences aren’t highlighted. Creating and maintaining a buddy program in the dance classes and throughout the school can also help children stay motivated and connected.

Program instructional/educational materials should be:

  • Available
  • In alternative formats – e.g. braille, web/electronic versions in plain text with text descriptions of pictures; large print; pictograms, audio versions, video with captions

Program staff:

  • Program staff should be trained in disability awareness. This training informs staff of how to work with and be sensitive to the needs of persons with disabilities. This includes training about providing for physical/emotional needs and overcoming stereotypes and misconceptions. You can find out more about AllPlay Training by going to our training page.

Dance school policies should consider including:

  • Disability awareness training for staff at all levels is mandated
  • School committees include members representing a disability perspective, such as someone with a disability
  • School has a disability policy
  • Health promotion and wellness policies that promote participation of kids with disabilities. For example, you can use our dance school posters (see below) which promote dance for kids of all abilities

 

Also be aware that some parents may not wish to disclose that their child has a disability. This is fine. If you notice a child is having some challenges, you can discuss this with their parents. Communicate what you have observed with sensitivity, focusing on the child’s strengths and what you have noticed.  Seek the parents’ advice and guidance about the best way to assist and encourage their child.

Some ideas to promote a whole school approach to inclusion:

  • Encourage all dance teachers who work at the school and all the students, parents and caregivers who attend the school to value an inclusive approach to dance.
  • For teachers: Promote the ability to adapt dance exercises and movement routines for students with disabilities as an important teaching skill.
  •  For students: Encourage senior students to join another class in the role of assistant to a child with a disability or developmental challenge.
  • Whole school: Design the end of year concert to include students of all abilities and to showcase the different movement abilities of all children.

Resources

  • See our overcoming barriers to inclusion for dance schools and dance teachers

Download AllPlay Dance schools poster 1:

Download AllPlay Dance schools poster 2:

Download AllPlay Dance schools poster 3:

Helping overcome the barriers for children with disabilities to participate in dance

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