Teaching toddlers to dance is fun, challenging, amazing and exhausting all wrapped into one. I have taught toddlers in various classes. Whether it’s called creative movement, baby ballet or tutu-time, there are key factors in adjusting to various personalities.
I’m overly and excessively picky when it comes to picking the right class and teacher for my workouts. Therefore, I structure my student’s class the way I would want my own class to be. At certain studios, toddlers usually start taking dance classes as young as 2. I have always taught toddlers ages 3-5 and I keep no more than 8 students in a class. Believe me, it’s best to keep it small.
When choosing a class for your child, keep these tips in mind. First off, make sure the instructor LOVES kids. You can pretty much tell if they don’t. Again, this is what I do and what I’ve done over 15 years and have learned from other instructors who are very conscious on not only teaching a toddler but leave them wanting to dance even more! This post can be directed to moms looking to enroll his or her child into a ballet class. And this post can be for someone thinking of teaching little ones in the dance world. These are tips on what you should look for.
1. Start the students in a circle and engage in conversation. What’s your name? What’s your favorite color? Why do you like dancing?
2. Music should be played softly so they can hear instruction.
3. Be mindful of what they can or can’t do. Always use praise. Never yell. Whispering to them can actually have them turn down the noise level.
4. Encourage them to do shapes with their arms. This is a great way to teach them circles, triangles, or squares.
5. Pretend land. Give them a scenario such as being in a forest, castle or an island. What do they see? This will spark their creativity.
6. Across the floor. Have 2-3 dancers go at a time. They can pretend to be butterflies and walk across the floor on their tippy toes or walk like flamingos. This will increase flexibility in their legs.
7. Barre work. Give them exercises such as tendu, passe, arabesque, and chaine turns. Even if it’s not perfect, always compliment their hard work.
8. Almost to the end of class, sit them down and test them. Ask, “Who can show me butterflies?” This is a good way to know if they’re retaining information and if you’re teaching methods are done correctly.
9. Closing the class. Play their favorite song and have them free dance! Let them dance however their little heart pleases. It helps to be confident and simply have fun.
10. Award every child with a sticker, smile and lots of praise. They will leave feeling incredible and that’s the most important goal of the class.