When little ones see a big open space, their natural reaction is to run. Just like my natural reaction to an empty hallway is to tombé pas de bourrée glissade saut de chat. Who’s with me??
As an early childhood teacher, you need to be prepared for runners. It’s a natural part of their development. We obviously do not want our students to run, but it’s the responsibility of the teacher to teach their students that we do not run in the dance studio.
Here are seven tips when you have a little one who would rather run laps than plié or sauté.
1. Review the rule often.
Be sure to actually tell the students (and the parents) that we walk and dance in the studio, not run.
If needed throughout the year, go over the rules in the lobby with both parents and students before beginning class.
2. Keep them busy.
With a jam-packed lesson plan that is developmentally appropriate and fun they won’t want to do anything but what you have planned for the day. So, plan wisely! Give jobs to the runners so they can stay busy during transitions. “Everyone, give your scarves to Ryan. Ryan, put the scarves in the bin, please.”
3. Say what you want to see.
When you are vocal with what you see or want to see, magic happens. A simple “I see jumping and leaping and spinning” will cue little ones to do those movements.
4. Praise the rule followers.
Kids LOVE attention. When you give all your attention to the negative behaviors in the class, you are sending the message that negative behavior will get your attention. Ignore the negative (as long as safety is not an issue) and praise the positive behaviors in the class. “I love how Molly is skipping and James is jumping!” Or, “(Gasp) Julia! I love how you are standing in first position. You are looking good!!” Often times this does the trick and your runners will start skipping like Molly, jumping like James, or standing like Julia. Be sure to praise them IMMEDIATELY and EVERY time you see them following the rules.
5. Give them choices.
Running is not an option. So, give them two choices that are options. “Isabel, would you like to skip or leap?” Or, "Would you like to stand on the yellow spot or the red spot?"
6. Use your catch and reel tools.
Check out this video to learn more about our catch and reel tools and give them a try!
7. Mean business.
If none of the above are working, it’s time to get down on their level, make eye contact, and change your tone of voice. Say, “Do not run in my class. If you run, you will have to hold my hand.” If they continue to run, hold their hand until they understand that running is not an option.
What tips do you have for teachers with runners? I’d love to hear them in the comments.
Let’s be real… “can I go potty?” is more contagious than a yawn! As early childhood teachers, we also know that this can derail our classroom flow and throw off our lesson.
According to EducationWorld.com, “the term classroom management refers to the procedures, strategies, and instructional techniques teachers use to manage student behavior and learning activities… Ineffective classroom management often creates chaos.” For this reason, potty trains fall along the lines of classroom management in my book.
Bottom line, kids will have to go to the restroom during class. It happens in every class, in every studio, in every country all around the world. They are children. You should not tell a child they cannot go to the restroom, unless you enjoy cleaning up accidents. So, what strategies can we put in place to (hopefully) avoid the chaos that is, “the potty train”?
Here are 5 strategies I use in my early childhood classes:
1. Create developmentally appropriate lesson plans. Are you really surprised this is my first tip? :) In all seriousness, if you are teaching at the child’s level, reaching multiple learning styles, and creating a fun experience for your little ones, THEY WON’T WANT TO LEAVE. In fact, you will have to have your “potty dance” radar on and send kids to the bathroom against their will. If your lesson is too challenging or not challenging enough, their little brains will drift and start to wonder “how can I get out of this situation?” Hence, having to go potty.
2. Review your Potty Policy. Short and simple...
3. Use the ONE at a time rule. I only allow one dancer to go to the restroom at a time. This allows me to distract any dancers who have also said they need to go to the restroom while they wait for their friend to return. IF they truly need to go, they will remember. IF they really don’t need to go, they will forget.
4. Remember, potty break = attention. Last summer, I was doing administrative work during a camp for our little ones. I kept noticing our teen assistants walking through the lobby guiding a little one to the restroom. They would wait outside the door, ask if the dancer was ok, then guide them back to the studio. This happened over and over and over again. FACT---> little ones are A LOT smarter than we think. These kids knew if they asked to go to the restroom, they would get all the attention of one of our awesome big kids. Therefore, what did EVERY SINGLE DANCER ask to do??? You guessed it. Whether it’s camp or a regular class, I give very little attention to my dancers who have to go to the restroom. I never stop my lesson to walk a child out to the lobby, they are responsible for shutting the studio door on their own, and I do not make a big deal when they return. My attention stays on the students in the studio and the lesson for the day.
5. Look for distractions. This is a bit random, but it is a true story so I thought I would share. I had a little one who would go to the restroom in the middle of class every single week. I pulled out all my strategies and nothing was working. Finally, the mom approached me to tell me that her daughter really didn’t need to go to the potty, she just liked the purple rug in our restroom. Guess what I removed that day?? Bottom line, don’t make your restroom fun. ;)😂
What strategies and tips do you use to avoid the potty train? I’d love to hear them!
This is the most frequently asked question I get from teachers and studio owners when I speak about DiscoverDance. I’ll be honest, when I first launched the program, I tripped over my words describing the style. “Well…it’s like creative dance. BUT... we also do ballet…and jazz… ramble…ramble…ramble…”. I would become so frustrated, because I was never happy with my answer and felt I did not explain it very well.
I believe my struggle came from the fact that I simply do not look at early childhood dance education as being one style. I don’t want to introduce my little ones to just one style of dance. I want to introduce my students to ALL styles of dance. And, that’s exactly what I do! After speaking with, and training teachers worldwide for the past two years, I have never been more confident in explaining what “style” of dance DiscoverDance is.
One aspect of the DiscoverDance formula is its unique conceptual approach. This means each lesson is centered around one of these 11 DANCE (<---- notice that? Not ballet. Not Jazz. Not Tap… DANCE) concepts: place, size, level, directions, pathways, speed, energy, weight, body parts, body shapes, relationships. By focusing on the essence of movement first, we build a solid foundation for the skills and movements needed to progress our specialized dance skills IN ANY STYLE OF DANCE.
So… is it creative movement? Yep, we discover our qualities of movement (ENERGY/WEIGHT), our story telling (SPEED), and creative thinking (RELATIONSHIPS) to name a few!
So…is it ballet? Yep, we discover our port de bras (BODY SHAPES), sautés (LEVEL), and échappés (SIZE) to name a few!
So… is it jazz? Yep, we discover our isolations (BODY PARTS), directional changes (DIRECTIONS), and dynamics (ENERGY/WEIGHT) to name a few!
So…is it tap? Yep, we discover our balance (BODY SHAPES), weight in our movement (WEIGHT), and rhythm (SPEED) to name a few!
Ok, ok… seriously! What style is DiscoverDance?
Any style you need it to be.
The DiscoverDance Early Childhood Dance Program is completely customizable to fit the needs of YOUR dance studio. The combination of the unique conceptual approach + the structural framework + the research-based educational materials = the magic that makes this program like none other. It could, in fact, be its own style of dance. Hmmmm…. I think I like that idea! :)
There is no way around it… no matter how much you prepare or how many years you have under your belt, recitals are STRESSFUL. For a new student (and parent) to dance, a recital can be truly overwhelming. When I started the DiscoverDance program 14 years ago, I wanted to introduce my little ones to their first performance experience without the stresses of the usual recital. I created a showcase event that has proven to be little stress with big success. This unique approach not only prepares my little ones for their future recitals, but it offers a shorter performance (which keeps our audience happy) and creates an opportunity for our families to come together and celebrate their dancer.
We used to hold these events at our dance studio,
but as our program grew, we could no
longer accommodate the large crowds. Because
we wanted to keep these showcases simple and
less stressful than our annual summer recitals,
we opted for a space that had a smaller stage
with ample room for chairs and event activities.
A ballroom, school cafeteria/gym equipped with
a stage, or a performing arts space would all work well. We keep the stage and house lights up for the duration of the event, so lighting capabilities is not a concern. If the space does not have a sound system, I highly recommend you invest in a portable speaker. This speaker is also great to use at outdoor events and parades!
We hold two showcases per regular dance season, one mid-season and one at the end of the season. If our 2-4-year-old dancers would like to participate, they have the option to perform in one or both showcases. Both have separate participation fees. In addition to these fees, there is one costume fee.
This costume is a simple dance dress that they will use for both showcases. Male dancers wear a solid colored shirt and pants or shorts. All of our classes wear the same costume. You can certainly have each class wear a different costume and make those choices fancier, but again, we are going for less stress for both our families and the studio staff!
These hour-long themed events include 6-8 dance routines. There is also a craft section, cookies and juice reception, and a character meet and greet. We combine smaller classes and hold two events to accommodate all of our families. We also invite our company to open and close the student showcase and volunteer during the event.
Because there are no costume changes and the performance is kept short, our little ones get a glimpse of backstage life without the stress of being held captive for hours. :) With books, coloring activities, and those awesome company volunteers, backstage is a breeze!
After the performance, dancers are divided by age and taken to one of the three activity stations. This is where the parents join their little ones to enjoy the remainder of the event.
If you have been thinking about having a separate performance opportunity for your little ones, I hope you have found some inspiration here. Stay tuned, because coming up soon I will dive into the details on how we make it all come together. I’ll even be sharing a sample showcase and checklist!
The number one reason you should be performing in your recital is to SET THE EXAMPLE. We can talk the talk all we want, but if we want our students to encompass all that is necessary to become a successful dancer, performer, entertainer, artist, and HUMAN BEING, we must show them.
When we perform, we show our students…
Tips for Success.
Time is probably the biggest factor keeping many teachers out of the spotlight. We are busy humans! This is why I recommend performing choreography that has already been created. We choose dances from past recitals. As you can imagine, our students get super excited to see our interpretation of their old dances. We use recital videos to learn the choreography on our own, then come together for 2-3 hours to rehearse. Remember, we are professionals performing choreography intended for our students… it’s less stressful for us but really special for the kids who were in the dance and those who remember the dance from previous years. Parents love it too!
To build suspense and add an extra touch of fun, we let the students vote on the style we will perform. We create a ballot of four different styles. The dancers choose the style they want to see us perform and add a dance request (if they have one). They don’t know which style won UNTIL the rehearsal. It is a fun surprise!
If your time is really limited, consider coming out for a few 8-counts during the finale or curtain call. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.
Lastly, parents and students WANT to see you on stage. If you were lucky enough to see your teachers perform, you know the magic it creates inside a little dancer’s heart. I specifically remember watching my “Miss Sally” perform when I was little. It is one of the reasons I got into this biz. I thought, “I want to be just like her!” Fast forward and here I am planting those same seeds in my dancers’ dreams. How cool is that!?!?
So, let’s hear it… Do you perform in your own show? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Here are a some activities to bring festive fun into your classes. Enjoy!
Winter Movement Cards
Download these fun-themed movement cards for FREE! You can laminate to make them last for years to come. These are great to include in your obstacle courses, lay them around the room for open exploration (great for parent/tot classes), or send them to your dance families so they can continue the dance fun at home!
For older dancers, make it a fun choreography game! Divide your class into small groups. Have dancers randomly draw cards and place in an order. Dancers work together to create a short choreographic phrase they can share with the class.
I’ve put together some of my favorite winter action dances here. These are great for ages 2-6.
If you approach your classes conceptually, here is a list of the songs and the concepts they explore. There are also some freeze dances on the playlist you can include in your winter lessons.
North Pole Party Freeze Dance- PLACE
Walk and Freeze- PLACE, ENERGY
Shake Them Santa Claus Bones- BODY PARTS
The Christmas Action Song-PLACE
The Winter Hokey Pokey- BODY PARTS, RELATIONSHIPS
Jingle Bell Opposites-DIRECTIONS, LEVEL, SPEED
Reindeer Pokey- BODY PARTS, RELATIONSHIPS
Snowflakes, Snowflakes- LEVEL, DIRECTIONS
Did You Ever See a Penguin?- DIRECTIONS, PATHWAYS
Ring Those Bells- PLACE
Jingle Jingle Little Bell-SPEED, LEVEL
Moving Story-PLACE, LEVEL
The Reindeer Dance-DIRECTIONS
Santa Shuffle-DIRECTIONS, LEVEL
Xmas Hop- DIRECTIONS, BODY PARTS
Swirl and Twirl: Step #1 of The Snowflake Dance- PLACE
Swirl, Twirl, Melt and Pop Up: Step #2 of The Snowflake Dance- PLACE, ENERGY
Happy winter exploring!
Halloween is my favorite time of the year. I love the crisp air, dressing up, and a good scary movie. I even get the whole fam involved in my excitement! :)
You can add your own kid-friendly Halloween fun to your classes with the ideas below!
Halloween Movement Cards
Download these 10 fun-themed movement cards for FREE! You can laminate them to make them last for years to come. They are great to include in your obstacle courses, lay them around the room for open exploration (fun for parent/tot classes), or send them to your dance families so they can continue the dance fun at home!
For older dancers, make it a fun choreography game! Divide your class into small groups. Have dancers randomly draw cards and place in an order. Dancers work together to create a short choreographic phrase they can share with the class.
I’ve put together some of my favorite Halloween action dances here. These are great for ages 2-6. If you approach your classes conceptually (if not…what are you waiting for?? :) ), here is a list of the songs and the concepts they explore. There is also a welcome and goodbye song on the playlist you can include in your October lessons. Enjoy!
Halloween Freeze Dance Song- PLACE, WEIGHT
Witches on their Broom-PLACE, ENERGY
Shake Them Skeleton Bones and Dry Bones- BODY PARTS
Horns, Fangs, Knees, and Claws- BODY PARTS
Ring Around the Pumpkins- PLACE, RELATIONSHIPS
The Monsters Stomp Around the House- PLACE, SPEED
Halloween Finger Family- PLACE, BODY PARTS
Bats Are Sleeping- PLACE, LEVEL
Spider, Spider, Spider- DIRECTIONS, LEVEL, BODY PARTS
Spider Up and Down- DIRECTIONS
Spooky Loo-BODY PARTS, RELATIONSHIPS
If I Were-PLACE, ENERGY
Fly Little Bats-PLACE, SPEED
Can You Make a Happy Face- PLACE, SPEED, SIZE
Knock, Knock, Trick or Trick- PLACE, ENERGY, WEIGHT, SPEED
Halloween Shark- SIZE, PATHWAYS
Scarecrow- PLACE, LEVEL
For your older dancers (ages 6-8), check out Kate Kuper’s Haunted House Braindance.
Listen here. Learn more here.
Happy Halloween Exploring!
Today I am sharing Kate Kuper's album, AlphaBeat. This is my all-time favorite album for teaching the little ones. I play some of these songs every week in my early childhood classes. Let’s dive in!
The More We Are Together- This familiar tune is perfect as a welcome or warm-up song. For my Discover With Me (Parent/Tot) classes we perform this song seated. For my DiscoverTots (Age 2/3) we perform this song standing.
Imaginary Journey- Although there are many dance concepts explored throughout this song, this is the perfect track to have on hand when you need to change up the class or have extra time at the end. Your dancers will LOVE travelling through this creative journey. The blue jello is my personal favorite!
Body Shape Jam- explore BODY SHAPES or BODY PARTS with this fun song that can be done seated or standing.
Show Your Feelings- explore SPEED to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. This song takes you through many feelings from mad to sad to sleepy to excited. I recommend this song for ages 4-6 as the “scared” feeling music is a bit…well..scary! :)
Action Dance- explore PLACE or ENERGY with this fantastic song. This is my FAVORITE song to do with my classes.
Locomotor Movement- explore PLACE with this catchy tune. Kate guides you through many locomotor movements. There is a time for reflection at the end of the song so the dancers can think about all the moves they just performed.
Near and Far- explore SIZE or RELATIONSHIPS with this fun track. It teaches the dancers how to move in and out of the circle as well as around the circle. Don’t forget your campfire!
Little Seed- explore SIZE or LEVELS with this imaginative song that guides little seeds to grow to big, high trees. Dancers start curled up small on a low level. The teacher “sprinkles” their backs with water so they can grow high.
Drumtalk- This is a great song to work on listening skills. There are some tricky parts so they REALLY have to pay attention. This one always gets them giggling.
Travelers in a Magic Forest, Swirl and Twirl, and Swirl, Twirl, Melt, Pop Up - These songs teach dancers how to take turns in groups. Dancers have to remember what group they are in as they take turns dancing away from their spot then returning back “home”.
Don’t miss these fun songs!
The Snowflake Dance- This poem was written by Walter de la Mare and is set to beautiful music. I use this song in my 1st-4th grade Creative Dance classes in the winter time. We choreograph the dance together.
Swirl and Twirl Instrumental- This song is great for a winter pre-ballet dance.
The album includes four guided warm-up songs. Sometimes I like to do these songs to change class up a bit. They also come in handy if I’m not feeling well and want to save my voice.
You could do an entire class using just this one album. So, if you are subbing or don’t have time to plan anything out, whip this cd out and you are good to go!
Buy AlphaBeat HERE!
Whether you incorporate the BrainDance in your classes already or you’re interested in starting (which I highly recommend), this is the album for you! Brain Bop is a fantastic tool, as Kate offers several BrainDance tracks with guided cues. When I first started using the BrainDance, I had a difficult time remembering the sequence of patterns. These cues help teachers stay on track. Once you are comfortable, you can use one of seven instrumental tracks as background music for your warm-up. I also love using the instrumentals in my 1st-4th grade Creative Dance and Modern classes.
Early Childhood Warm-Up- guided seated BrainDance recommended* for ages 3 and 4.
Children’s Warm-Up- guided standing BrainDance recommended* for ages 4-6. Also comes as an instrumental track.
Guided Warm-up- guided standing BrainDance recommended* for ages 6-10. Also comes as an instrumental track titled “Aquamarina”. This BrainDance uses descriptive instructions along with anatomical terms.
Don’t miss these fun tracks!
Haunted House- guided BrainDance through a haunted house. I use this in my Kinder-2nd grade classes, although my 3rd and 4th graders often ask for it as well! The background music is a little spooky for the 4 and under dancers.
Brain Bop- A quick (under 3:30 minutes), upbeat guided BrainDance recommended* for ages 4-9.
Now that I am comfortable with leading the BrainDance, the instrumental tracks are really what I use on this album. “Rio Loco” is my go-to for a standing brainDance, “Montego” is perfect for obstacle courses or across the floor work, and “Floating Island” is great for the Rest and Redirect portion of my classes. They are long tracks too!
*All age recommendations are based on my personal teaching experience.
Today I’m sharing Kate Kuper’s Songs for Dancing. This CD/DVD set is full of many perfect songs for your early childhood classes!
The Welcome Song-
Resting- If you include resting in your classes, this is a wonderful song to add to your playlist. It’s beautiful piano music with Kate’s voice cueing the dancers through a relaxation and breathing exercise. It is 4 minutes in length, but there are plenty of instrumental sections where you could fade the song out early if needed. BONUS: This song can be used in older classes too!
Walking Song- explore the concept of PLACE with this tune that offers various movement options.
Shape Song- explore BODY SHAPES with Kate’s cues.
Here We Go ‘Round and Round- explore BODY PARTS to this familiar tune. I recommend doing this song in a circle with the campfire in the middle. During “Here We Go ‘Round and Round” side slide around the circle.
Trip to the Zoo- explore SPEED with different animals at the zoo.
Popcorn and Melted Butter- explore ENERGY with this lively song.
The Stick Together Game- explore BODY PARTS in this fun game. This song is also fantastic for introducing partner work and problem solving.
Everybody Do This- This is a fun song to help dancers work on their memory skills.
There are clear music changes for different movements to help the dancers match the action with the music. Includes cues from Kate.
Right and Left Hands- Help little ones learn their right and left sides with Kate’s cues.
Galloping Song- Gallop freely around the room. Walk back to tape mark slowly and lay down. Wake up and gallop once again.
Skipping Song- Kate cues dancers through the mechanics of a skip. I recommend this for dancers ages 4 and 5.
Don’t miss these fun songs!
Do Your Own Dance- A fantastic song that includes structured and free improvisation cues!
Little Birdies- This song is great for encouraging dramatic play. Dancers pretend they are the little birdies and the teacher is the grown-up bird. Don’t forget to use scarves as wings!
You receive a booklet with tips and suggestions from Kate as well as a DVD with videos of these activities!
Many songs also come as instrumentals.
Buy it here!
This week I will be honoring the life and legacy of dance educator, Kate Kuper. I met Kate 13 years ago as a dance major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Knowing that teaching was a passion of mine, a professor highly recommended that I take Kate’s new course “Creative Dance for Children”. Soon after the course started, Kate asked if I would be her assistant for the remainder of my time at UIUC.
Not only did Kate teach me the most effective and developmentally appropriate way to teach children, we also did many things together outside of the classroom. We took trips to the fabric store to find the perfect material for scarves and stretchy bands. We travelled to the area public schools where I watched Kate’s classroom management skills work like magic in a gym filled with energetic students. And, every Saturday morning, we invited the community children to come take class with us where Kate taught us, hands on, how to be the best teacher we can be. Because of her knowledge and the passion she shared, it was an easy decision to follow her path and make teaching my life’s work.
In November of 2016 I decided to make DiscoverDance official. I nervously sent Kate a sample of my curriculum. I knew if Kate approved of my work I could move forward with confidence. She responded “It’s so great to know that your work has evolved so spectacularly. I’m proud to have been a part of that.” With those words, I plunged into this journey!
Two weeks later, on November 18th, 2016, I received the devastating news that Kate had passed away. I wish I could tell her that since first reaching out, I have had the opportunity to share the curriculum she so heavily inspired at a teaching training conference, and that DiscoverDance is now being taught in studios across the United States. I wish she could see the nearly 3,000 online followers receiving early childhood tips I’ve developed from the fundamental guidance she gave me. There is no doubt that if I had not walked into her class 13 years ago, DiscoverDance would not exist and for that I am forever grateful for Kate Kuper.
Join me this week as I post my favorite Kate Kuper music and activities. She has brought so much joy and fun to my early childhood classes. I know you will be inspired!
You know it’s coming…Parent Observation Week! The week many teachers dread, especially if you teach little ones! It never fails… they cry, hurt themselves, pee in the middle of the studio, or just stare at you while you do the Hokey Pokey by yourself, all while you have a “paying” audience as witnesses… Thanks, kiddos!
I never looked forward to parent observation week, until I created the DiscoverDance program. Now, it has become one of my favorite weeks in the dance season! Sure, the parents can watch through the viewing window each week. But, it is during observation week that the parents learn WHY this program is so unique and beneficial for their child’s development! I’m not just selling dance classes and I LOVE explaining that to the parents.
I go through my lesson plan step by step and explain why we do the things we do. I share with them how their dancer’s creative and physical development is more important than mimicking a cute dance routine. My two year olds show their parents how repetition gives them confidence and how the use of props enhances their learning. My three year olds yell out words like “locomotor movement” and demonstrate all the creative ways we can get from one place to another. I explain to the parents that the four year olds always do their showcase dance by themselves first each week, so that their brains and bodies can work on memory development, and by the end of the season they will be able to do the entire dance without my assistance.
It is such a fun week for me and I wish the same for every dance educator out there. Is it still a crazy week? Heck yea! But, in the end, the parents themselves DISCOVER why their dancers love dance, see their dancers’ DEVELOPMENT and leave with their own APPRECIATION for the ART of dance.
TEACHER TIP: ALWAYS give a disclaimer and blame the craziness on having an audience present.
“Even though we would love for today to be a normal dance day, it won’t be because we have an audience. But, we are glad you are here and we are going to do our very best!”
If you teach PARENT AND TOT CLASSES, you know they can be challenging. However, they have the potential to be the most rewarding classes at your studio. YOU have the opportunity to encourage the bond between participants while, at the same time, teaching the parents about your program, how their child develops, and why the art form is so important for their child’s physical and mental health. How cool is that?!?!
In my early years of teaching Parent and Tot classes, I focused on the children. I wanted them to have fun and be happy in hopes that their parents would see how awesome dance was and would sign them up for future classes. However, I noticed the parents would not participate. They would rather sit and bark orders at their toddler (“Go dance!”), chat with their bestie who was also in the class, or even talk on their cell phone while the class was in session. Ummm…. Who does that?!?! I knew I needed to change my approach.
Here are some tips that surfaced once I made these changes. I hope you find them helpful in your classes too!
1. Set Clear Expectations- Don’t assume parents know the rules and etiquette of a dance class. Before every single class, go over your expectations. “Good morning, everyone! We are going to have so much fun together today. Grown-ups, make sure your cell phones are silenced, please keep chit chat between your child and other grown-ups to a minimum, and remember…if you are having fun, your child will also have fun. Let’s dance!”
2. Instruct the Parents- Forget about the kiddos! The children will participate because their grown-ups are participating. I PROMISE! If a child sees that their mom and dad are doing what I ask them to do, the child will follow. If the child sees that their mom or dad is having a blast, the child will join in on the fun. When giving directions, instruct the parents first. “Alright grown-ups, everyone on your feet” or “time to go across the floor, grown-ups, please go have a seat by the wall.” Most parents probably never grew up dancing, so they don’t know what to do. Your verbal cues will help guide them and make them more comfortable in class. It will also give them no choice but to do what you ask when you address them directly. :)
3. Praise the Parents- I know it sounds silly, but grown-ups need to be praised for a job well done just like their child needs praise. Call them out and let them know they’re doing a great job. “I see Rebecca playing peek a boo with her little one. Let’s all play peek a boo.” Or, as you’re moving through the class tell them “that’s so creative, good job!” or a simple “great energy!”. I’ve never met a parent who didn’t appreciate the positive feedback. I mean, we are asking them to step out of their comfort zone and act like a two-year-old, let’s build their confidence so they continue that play at home!
More tips for a successful Parent/Tot class:
· Create a home base out of mats for the class to come back to between activities. By creating this visual, dancers and grown-ups know exactly where I want them to be in the room without ever giving a detailed verbal cue.
· Create an age appropriate curriculum that focuses on early childhood physical development, rather than proper dance technique.
DiscoverDance Early Childhood Dance Education offers a movement curriculum and teaching resources for the developing child. Click here to explore all products.
I love the freeze dance! In the DiscoverDance program, we start every class with this activity. Over the years, I have witnessed many benefits from starting class in this manner.
Here are a few:
1. Tactile Play- Tactile play is an important part of child development, especially for the tactile learners. By using different fabrics and colorful prop options, the children get to experience tactile play during each dance class.
2. Parent Separation- If children are hesitant to leave their grown-ups and enter the classroom independently, what better way to entice them than with a colorful ribbon ring or beautiful scarf? Once I moved this activity to the beginning of class, the number of criers dropped immensely. Side note-I do believe this happened from a combination of enticing props and a fun, developmentally appropriate curriculum.
3. Kids WANT to dance!- When they enter the studio, their little brains and bodies are ready to explode from the excitement of coming to dance class. So let them DANCE! Doing the freeze dance, at the start of class, gets their listening ears ready by working off that excited energy so they are prepared to focus on the concept of the day. In addition, it serves as a creative outlet and gets the dancers comfortable with improvisation (a skill they will need as they progress in dance).
4. Late Arrivals- Nothing is more disruptive than a little one bursting through the door AFTER class has already started. Beginning with the Freeze Dance, allows a buffer between the start of class and when we are ready to learn. BONUS- I have never seen kids take their shoes and jackets off so fast than I have when they arrive late and hear the freeze dance music playing. They don’t want to miss it!
In the past, I used the freeze dance as a reward for good behavior or IF we had time at the end of class. However, moving it to the beginning of class has made a huge difference in their independence, confidence, and focus. Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you and your classes!
Welcome to my new website! I will be posting suggested music, tips, and tools for a successful and UNIQUE preschool dance experience! It's no secret that your preschool program is the foundation of your dance school. I look forward to helping you DISCOVER how you can make the most of your program in place OR start a fresh, one-of-a-kind program that will draw the little ones in your community to your studio.
I am excited to be joining the Midwest Dance Teacher Forum in the Chicagoland area in July 2017! I will be presenting my work and officially launch my DiscoverDance Program. See you there!