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.