Top 10 Feis Tips for Parents of Beginners

Top 10 Feis Tips for Parents of Beginners

We know it's scary to walk into a crowded venue with dancers practicing, parents and teachers gathering and everyone seemingly knowing the rhythm and flow.

It's easy to feel out of place and overwhelmed for the first year; but we have some tips that might help!    

1. Do your dancer's hair at home.  If you have a bun or a wig, this gives the dancer time to get used to it.  Even if they go back to sleep in the car, it's ok to redo it- it's more about acclimating to the hair than perfection at this stage.

2. Be prepared with the dance bag necessities:  bobby pins, hairspray, hair gel, extra elastics, safety pins, an extra pair of poodle socks, an extra bow and extra bun donut if you have one.

3. Pack snacks and extra beverages. Take care of yourself too.  It's going to be a long day so pack things you'll enjoy as well.

4. Arrive at the venue AT LEAST 20 minutes before start.  I'd recommend more, but we know how early most Feis start.  Parking can be problematic, so relieve some stress and get there ahead of time.

5. Bring time killers.  There can be a bit of time between dances at some competitions, so you need something to pass the time.  We would recommend avoiding devices (ipads, phones etc) just for the first year as it can be hard for the little dancers to change from the device to the line up and getting the "Feis rythym" down is also a skill.  Playing cards are a great option.

6. Make sure to find time to play.  Your dancer knows what to do and is stressed as well.  We find doing a "silly dance" right before lining up reminds us both this is supposed to be fun and gets our dancer smiling; ready for the judges.

7. Don't obsess over results.  This one is SOOOO Hard.  But us parents aren't Irish Dancers, and even though we think our little one is the best kid and is working their hardest, some days they will place and some days they won't.   I'll admit, I've gotten misty eyed a few times myself.  But this is a very subjective sport.   Instead, read the comments, take note and work on those things for next time.

8.  Celebrate the wins, even the small ones.  OK, so they didn't place, but did they improve on something they're working on?  My little one used to talk in line and it was very distracting.  So we created incentives and when she broke the habit we had a little dance party.

9. Do at least one travel Feis.  Enjoy getting out of town and make a small weekend of it.  This will expose your dancer to different judges, different schools, and may help them focus.  My beginner was a social butterfly and she always wanted to play with her friends more than compete.  When we went out of town the first time she had nothing to do but focus and ended up winning in three dances!!!

10.  Find your tribe.  Make friends with other parents, even if not from your school.  You're going to spend a lot of time at competitions, and making new friends will help your anxiety and make this sport even more fun!