Kids under seven are difficult to work with in any classroom let alone a dance classroom. They yell because they want to be with their parents. If they aren’t use to public interaction with kids, it is difficult for them to get along with other children their age. And finally they can’t sit still for more then two seconds. Over the last eight years I have been a dance teacher I have grasped an understanding on how to handle young kids and teaching them a routine. There are three rules to follow:
Firstly, keep it simple. As a child, they are still learning the world and trying to understand everyday life, like their right from their left, why they can’t hit someone if they don’t get their way, or tying their shoes. In a class where the kids are four to seven years old always kept feet and arm movements separate. Trying to put them together is disastrous and you will end up with kids slamming into one another and falling down. Use simple dance movements that they have been learning all year. For a tap class some moves would be toe taps, heel digs, and big arm movements. If you tie in the movements that you do all the time in class, the kids are more likely to retain the dance when they get to the stage performance.
Secondly, relate to their lives. I know relating to a life of a five year old can be hard since your an adult, but I promise you were a child once. When I start to develop a children’s dance the first thing I do is start listening to a ton of music. Depending on what kind of dance you are teaching will depend on the music. Let’s take tap as an example. Back in 2008-2009 I was teaching a tap class for five to seven year olds. I decided to use the song ‘My Girl’ which was probably one of the greatest kids dances I ever choreographed. Since the song is super slow and has a repetitive chorus it gave me the opportunity to utilize the words in the song for arm movements, and during the instrumental parts we did toe taps, knee bounces,and shuffles, as well as gave the kids something easy to sing-a-long to. Also, using imagery that they can relate to is important to get them to perform, like pretending that mommy is in the front row.
Finally, keep repeating the routine for fifteen minutes at the end of class every week. This sounds tedious and boring, but it is difficult for many children to remember things that are not repeating everyday. So, when a child is only going to dance class once a week it is even harder. This repetition will get the kids to understand the patterns of the movement, to understand the song, and how the two mesh together. Routine is important for a child to have consistency in dance classroom is just as important as the child’s everyday life.
Just a little My Girl throwback for you to sing along to: