When teaching little ones, presentation definitely counts! A young child will often reflect the amount of enthusiasm and energy you are showing them in your teaching. How can dance teachers create an environment of exploration, creativity and fun while also teaching the important dance concepts? Ruth Brinkerhoff suggests its all in how you put it out there!
They Actually DO Love It!
How something is presented often determines how a child will receive it. Consider the possibility that they might actually LIKE pretending to be rag dolls or squirrels once you explain, show, talk about, and demonstrate the idea to them.
Real things from nature and real life are still fun, if the children are given an understanding of them. You may have to “prime” them more carefully, because their experiences from TV and movies are more often about unreal fantasy characters and situations than about reality. Children love to experience the world around them. Describe to them, in detail, how something feels, tastes or smells. Their emotions begin to come into play and the activity becomes much more fun to them.
Dance Class Can Help Them to Have a Greater Awareness of Reality
If a teacher is afraid her class won’t like something, they probably won’t. If she allows herself to be “bored” by the pre-ballet material, the children will probably reflect her attitude and not enjoy the activities.
First, convince yourself how wonderful something is. Then present it with that feeling. The words you use are not half as important as the feelings and attitudes you are projecting.
Children under eight are learning attitudes that will persist for a lifetime. All of the adults in their world are “teaching” them what to feel, and say, and do. (Older children, TV, etc. also have an effect.) They are still learning, still forming their attitudes about life. A dance teacher can still teach them how to have a positive attitude using the activities they do in class.
Don’t Just Teach Based on What They Like
Don’t let the kids’ efforts to control you change your opinion of what you want to teach. “I like it! I think dancing is fun! That’s why I teach it. I want to share that fun with you. I hope you will want to share my fun!”
Never ask a young child what they like. They may choose to be negative because they don’t know what you or what Mom or Dad want them to like. They may not know what they do like! Likes and dislikes can constantly change at this age.
Teachers, Be Creative!
Because all kids are different, and all teachers are different, there is no one fail-safe method of doing this. There are principles, ideas and suggestions. You must adapt the principles to your own personality, and to the many little personalities in your pre-ballet classes.
To keep up with today’s kids, teachers need to understand and creatively use teaching skills and child management principles. The content of a dance class by itself will no longer hold many children’s attention. You will not find a program that can “do the teaching for you.” Not anymore.
In teaching, and in managing children, the caring, friendly relationship you have with them is of prime importance.
As for today’s kids, their outspoken nature, and their non-compliance can often come from the fear of living in a world where not all adults can be trusted to not hurt them. You need to reach through that shell of fear in order to teach them, and to have an orderly, child-friendly class.
Other times it can come from living in a household where compliance and respect for elders is not taught, and thus, not enforced. You are the teacher in your classroom, and you may have to enforce some rules that they are not accustomed to following.
So, Ballet and Dance Teachers, don’t give up! And don’t just entertain the kids. They need to feel safe, and to be learning something useful for the life ahead. They need to have a feeling of rapport with adults they can trust. Dance and Ballet teachers can provide this.
Find what works for you. Children need your caring and expertise like never before!
- Courtesy, Safety and Respect in the Classroom
- Tips for Teaching Preschool Combo Classes
- Expecting Good Behavior from Preschoolers
- Win with Threes By Knowing Their Needs