One of the things I’ve always been keen to do with the sprog is go to baby / toddler classes. Not only does this help to give a bit of structure to our weekdays, but it means she’s got the chance to try loads of different things as a way of developing her skills and interests. We’d done a range of classes to date – from Water Babies swimming lessons to Tumble Tots gymnastic lessons to Little Kickers football lessons – but had yet to experience a specific dance class.
Enter Tappy Toes. They got in touch with me during the latter part of 2016 to see whether I’d be interested in reviewing their toddler dance classes in exchange for a term of lessons. As we’d just finished Little Kickers around this time – and considering Toddler L loves being active – this sounded right up our street. I’ve always fancied myself as a more talented version of Ashley Banjo…
Below, you’ll find our review of the 20 months to 2.5 year old class which we went to in Bushey, Hertfordshire.
The class is described as:
Tappy Toes run active dance and movement classes for children aged 3 months to 5 years. Tappy Toes toddler dance classes are a high energy and fun 30 minute class which improve your child’s coordination, motor skills and social skills, as well as challenge their imagination and creativity through movement. Tappy Toes introduce your child to all the basic dance movements; skipping, turning, galloping, marching and so on. We sing songs with action and dance with props including dance ribbons, hoops, bells and pompoms.
Parents are encouraged to join in, however, they will be amazed at how enveloped the child becomes after a few classes. It is a fantastic opportunity to mix with different personalities and a great way for particularly shy and timid children to really open up.We truly believe that Tappy Toes is unique, it is not your run of the mill ballet, dance or toddler class, it provides a valuable and educational service by combining song, dance, story telling and drama into one fun packed class for both parent and child!
Tappy Toes dance classes began in Watford, Hertfordshire and are expanding throughout the UK. Classes can now be found in Hertfordshire, Essex, Dorset, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Dublin; new classes are opening all the time.
I went onto the Tappy Toes website and checked out what different classes and venues were available. Watford / Bushey was our closest, so that made most sense to attend. I had the option of two classes – the first was 20 months to 2.5 years and the second was 2 to 5 years. Due to what felt like a big gap development wise between 2 and 5, we plumped for the younger class. This saw us booked onto a term of lessons at Bushey Grove Leisure Centre from mid-September through to Christmas with Mandy.
Our first experience didn’t get off to the best of starts. This was nothing to do with the class though, it was purely down to my incompetence. I’d read the time wrong, so we turned up over an hour early – the class started at 10.30am, but we rocked up at 9.15am. How’s that for being keen?! Still, it gave me the chance to do a few stretches – I’m not as supple as I once was, so didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of everyone…
The classes took place in the multi purpose room at the leisure centre. This was a decent space with full length mirrors down one of the walls – there was no way I was going to be able to hide from my dance moves here. It often felt like we were on the set of a film or practicing a routine for Strictly Come Dancing.
All in all, we took part in 12 of the 14 classes – we missed two due to being away and illness. Although we were in the 20 months to 2.5 years group, two of our lessons actually took part in the older class. As our class was small, one of these was to see if the classes could combine and the other was because I got stuck in traffic and missed ours. This flexibility was useful and appreciated!
Each class lasted for 30 minutes, required full parent participation and took a similar format, although what we did each week was different. This allowed both toddler and parent to become familiar with the classes as they went on, but ensured that we didn’t get bored with the same thing each week. This format consisted of a mix of song, dance, movement, imaginative play and prop work. Let me give you an example of what a typical week would look like:
- Register and welcome
- Warm up, e.g. holding hands and going around in a circle whilst singing ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’
- Imaginative play incorporating dance moves, e.g. Good toes / naughty toes to teach your toddler to point their feet or a police officer bobbing up and down to show them a plié
- Active dancing and singing, e.g. marching in a circle and stopping when the music stops or pretending we’re dinosaurs
- Galloping sideways from one end of the room to the other whilst holding hands
- Individually running to the teacher on tiptoes, then doing a twirl with arms above the head on a star placed on the floor (the kids, not the adults!)
- Imaginative play incorporating dance moves by going on a magic carpet ride to another place, e.g. the forest, a bonfire, a land full of sweets etc.
- Dancing to a song with a prop, e.g. hoop, dance ribbons, pom poms
- Doing the Hokey Cokey
- Line up, bow, then a sticker
As mentioned, this is an example of a typical lesson – some weeks, there’d be more warm up songs, other weeks we’d do more imaginative dancing. Just to highlight, as we’d attended the older class twice, the actual stuff we did was exactly the same – the main difference was that the older class didn’t require parent participation. I’d say that the Tappy Toes classes are probably best described as semi-structured with variations each week. It was these variations – or themes – I particularly liked.
A lot of thought had gone into making sure each week was relevant, so for example, we had things like Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas. This would see us acting out stuff related to that theme, such as finding baubles to decorate the Christmas tree or roasting marshmallows on a bonfire. The last few months have seen a huge development in terms of Toddler L’s imagination and I think Tappy Toes has had a lot to do with that.
As you can probably see from the above bullet points, the Tappy Toes lessons start to teach your kid some of the fundamentals of ballet and dance, such as walking on tip toes, putting your feet in first position and doing a twirl with arms in fifth position. At no time though are these things taught as dance moves though – they’re very much a fun thing for your kid to do. As such, there’s no pressure to get it right or remember any technical jargon. I think this is a great way of showing the fundamentals without making it a strict class, as I imagine a proper ballet school would be.
As alluded to earlier, surprisingly, our class only had three toddlers (two girls and one boy). This was good because the kids got to know each other and there was plenty of one-on-one time with Mandy – particularly as Toddler L often preferred to hold her hand than mine! But, it was a bit of a shame that the class wasn’t that little bit fuller. By comparison though, the older class after ours had around ten kids, so it’s not like there isn’t a demand.
On the whole, Toddler L really liked the classes. She was very enthusiastic about it all and took to it well. She impressed me at how quickly she grasped a concept – she only had to see a particular dance move or action demonstrated once before she was doing it herself. Comparing her on the last lesson to the first lesson really showed how much she’d come along. I think Tappy Toes definitely helped with things like her gross motor skills and coordination, plus as mentioned, her imagination and creativity has come along massively.
It wasn’t always easy though. As everyone who owns a toddler knows, how much they want to do is often mood dependant. Sometimes, they just don’t want to play ball, no matter how much encouragement, reward or blackmail you give them.
This occasionally meant that Toddler L would wander over to the window in order to look out or go to one of the chairs to have a sit down, thus ignoring the class. She had her favourite things – she’d always do the twirl on the star, the magic carpet and the props, but I don’t think she ever properly did the Hokey Cokey despite 12 weeks of trying. Toddler, eh?!
This was nothing new for me though. It’s something I’ve experienced at other classes before like Little Kickers and Tumble Tots. It’s not down to boredom or not enjoying the class – it’s purely just toddlerdom. Being demandy, pushing boundaries etc. Mandy was particularly good at recognising this and doing her utmost to coax Toddler L – and the other kids – back into the class if they went AWOL.
Got to love a dance class where the three toddlers do their own thing and leave the parents to dance alone with the teacher!
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) November 28, 2016
We really enjoyed Tappy Toes and will be looking to go back again. We can no longer do Monday’s as Toddler L is now going to do go nursery on that day, but I’ll definitely be looking to see if we can fit in one of the different classes on another day.
It costs £4.50 per class to attend Tappy Toes, however you’re required to sign up to the full term as there’s no pay as you go option. There is also a £10 fee on top, which covers first time registration and includes one of the Tappy Toes t-shirts. At less than a fiver, this is actually the cheapest toddler class we’ve done, so I think it represents great value for money.
Personally, I’d always like to see a pay as you go option included in classes though – not every parent can commit to attending for 14 weeks in a row. However, I understand that this isn’t always in the interests of the company due to financial reasons. Tappy Toes do also offer a three week trial at £15, which allows you to try the classes for an extended period before deciding whether you want to sign up or not.
Both Toddler L and I really enjoyed the Tappy Toes dance lessons. We found them good introductory movement lessons which focused on having fun, being active and building the basics when it comes to dance. Each lesson followed a similar pattern which included elements of dance, singing, story telling and drama as a way of developing confidence, social skills, gross motor skills and imagination. As our lessons progressed, I noticed that Toddler L developed in all of these areas. Let’s be honest, I did too…
In addition, I also found the teacher – Mandy – to be friendly, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and good with the kids. Toddler L took to her straight away and would often ditch me in order to do the activities with Mandy! At £4.50 per lesson, I also think this represents really good value for money – I’d expect to spend a few quid more per lesson, just as I do with other toddler classes.
All in all, I have nothing but good things to say about Tappy Toes and wouldn’t hesitate to recomend it to any other toddler-owning parents out there.
The DADventurer Star Rating
5 out of 5 stars
N.B. This review was written by me (Dave) and represents my honest opinion of the class. We were provided with a term of dance lessons by Tappy Toes with the purpose of writing an honest review in exchange for attending.