Preschool Dance Disasters – how to avoid them.
Teaching Preschool Dance is an incredibly rewarding experience. However, it can also be incredibly tough. When I look at my teaching week, the preschool hours are often the most exhausting and draining. When things are going smoothly, preschool dance classes are an absolute joy, but there certainly are days when I feel like I have gone 10 rounds with a heavy weight boxer. So what are my top tips for turning preschool dance class disaster into successful, educational and fun classes that parents and children will love.
- Try to avoid the disaster ever taking hold. Seems obvious but sometimes we underestimate the importance of consistent class structure, place makers and expectations. Preschool classes will always work best with clear expectations of behaviour. Set some basic rules and expectations of behaviour which you can slowly build on during the year. You don’t have to be a tyrant and enforcing the rules should always be done with a gentle insistence. Setting rules and expecting good behaviour creates an ideal learning environment for preschoolers. You can read more about place makers and their role in effective preschool dance education here. Routine is also key in ensuring smooth sailing. When your baby ballerinas know what to expect and you are confident with what you are doing, it just makes everything so much more enjoyable. Sure add in some fun or seasonal activities but these always work so much better when the rest of the class follows a familiar structure. More info on essential preschool dance items can be found here.
- Props – you can read more about my favourite Preschool Props here. Props not only aid in find and gross motor skill development and fire up imagination and creativity but they also help with the flow and pace of the class, with expectations and they are FUN. If things are starting to go south, grabbing your favourite prop can be a real circuit breaker. I particularly love scarves and pom poms for this. Wands and other hand held implements are sometimes not the best in dicey situations as they last thing you want is a prop being used as a weapon!
- Changing your tone. Never underestimate the power of a change in tone or demeanour. Lightening your voice, acting a bit silly, pretending you can’t find a prop when it is right in front of you, or alternatively lowering your voice to an almost whisper so that the children have to strain to hear are all great techniques for redirecting energy and regaining lost concentration.
- Activity songs – where would we ever be without preschool activity songs? When times are tough, sometimes the only thing that will save the day is a tried and tested activity song. You can see my list of top 5 Preschool activity songs here.
- That ONE special activity – I keep one or two super special activities on hand just for these occasions. One of my favourites is Mr Penguin. I keep a soft toy penguin hidden in the middle of my pom poms. Sometimes for a treat and sometimes to save the day I’ll pull out Mr Penguin. Sometimes I have other things hiding in their too – like a pair of socks, whatever I can quickly grab. I sit the children down and say we’ve got a special friend coming. I then proceed to pull out all the wrong things – the smelly sock is a big hit. After Mr Penguin comes out we have a look at him and talk about what colour he is etc. Then we ‘Do the Penguin’ with the song. Afterward I ask Mr Penguin what he thought and he gets so excited he tries to fly away and I have to ‘struggle to catch him’. The children all say goodbye and I pop him back in the pom pom bag. An activity like this really changes the mood and can bring round even the most distracted, tired or grumpy class.
If you are looking for preschool dance colouring pages and class plans, are available here.
Good luck and happy teaching.l