One of the things that i really like of life in Armenia is the multiple dance, music and art classes offered to children after school. Some art schools, like Igityan cultural center, have a long experience of teaching children dance and most of the children growing up in Yerevan specifically go to one of these schools to learn Armenian folkloric dance, ballet, latino and other styles.
Parents (mostly mothers and grand-mothers) religiously take their kids after school to those classes who are situated in different parts of the city and wait for them (for an hour or two twice a week in cold and dark waiting areas) to finish and escort them back home. Learning to dance is important to develop children's mind and body. They learn rhythm, music and coordination and move all the time instead of sitting in front of the TV for hours.
I used to take my 3 kids as well to these classes myself before i started working long hours and then Diguine Anna, our patient babysitter continued to take over this task. I also remember how i used to sit for a whole hour or two in these cold entrances, talking with other mothers, reading or writing and being happy that my kids also are benefitting from this opportunity. Dance classes for children in Canada are limited and not as affordable as in Armenia.
I always thought that these classes were an important tool to develop most importantly children's self-esteem and give them more confidence in their abilities. But i realized recently that I was wrong! Some of the very much known dance schools were doing in reality the complete opposite. A while ago, my daughters started complaining, not wanting to go to dance classes anymore. Then they started saying that the teacher is very mean and saying things she shouldn't say like "look how you are dancing, you are tmbo or what?" to one of their friends. Amassia complained that the school director was always saying to the girls (7-12yr olds) "stop eating too much, you are getting fat, how are you going to dance on stage...". The funny thing is that the school they go to "Sofi Devoyan Dance school" also sells cheap junk food(Sofi chocolate, Sofi cotton candy,Sofi popcorn, ...) in the school waiting area for these same kids. This already gives you an idea that this school's top priority is to make money, the rest is not as important it seems. Teachers don't know how to talk to kids and even though my husband and I complained many times, they didn't do anything since they have lots of students and business is good!
I discussed this with local Armenian girls, who used also to go to these kind of classes in their childhood and some of them, told me as well how bad some of the teachers used to treat them, giving them lots of complexes that they still carry until now.
Amassia and Varanta stopped going to dance classes a week ago. We will search again for a better dance school with well educated and prepared teachers and a caring administration. Vayk loves the Igityan school and until now we didn't have any complaints, but still monitoring.
So this is to tell you to be more attentive as parents and follow closely these kind of classes, in Armenia or elsewhere some teachers could break your child self-esteem(especially for girls, we have enough body image problems in society among adolescent girls, we need to be more careful) with their ignorance and negative attitudes and this is not at all acceptable.
So for now, on my bad list (regarding self-esteem development in children and absence of pedagogical approach) is:
Sofi Devoyan Dance School
Any other schools that you could recommend? would love to hear from your experiences as parents or dancers.