The same things that you love about young dancers – their high energy, cute behavior and candid outbursts – can often become the things you struggle with the most during dance class. On good days, you may walk away after teaching preschool dance classes with a big smile and lots of hugs! But on the less-than-perfect days, the hour might as well have been spent herding cats.
Teaching young dancers comes with its own set of challenges, but the good news is that many of these problems are easy to solve. Here are five common problems that you may experience when teaching preschool dance classes and how you can solve them.
1. Making a Scene
According to HealthDay, kids between the ages of 3 and 6 are particularly prone to tantrums, as this is the time when children start to exert their independence. This is also around the same age when young kids enroll in dance classes for the first time. So what’s a teacher to do when an unhappy dancer starts making a scene?
Stacey Schwartz, founder of the Leaping Legs Creative Movement Program, explained on the 4dancers blog that in times like these, it’s essential that dance teachers have good relationships with parents. After all, who knows better how to calm an upset child than her parent? If a dancer has an outburst or tantrum, approach her parent after class and ask for pointers if the situations arises again.
2. Not Paying Attention
Young dancers are easily distracted. Something as simple as a person talking in the waiting room may be enough to make your students lose focus – especially if they’re not engaged to begin with. Dance Advantage explained that you need to be the most interesting thing in the room if you want your students to pay attention. To achieve this goal, you’ll need to keep the energy high throughout class. Play games, try new activities and move on if something’s falling short.
3. Fussing Over Props
One poster on a Dance.net forum expressed her frustration that her young students constantly fuss over props. She got to the point where she avoided using them in class because she knew the students would fight over getting the color they wanted or some other trivial factor.
It definitely makes it hard to teach when students argue over who gets the pink bean bag. There are two solutions you can try. The first is to pick props that are all the same – no color, size or pattern variations. The other, as suggested by Dance.net members, is to adopt the maxim “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset!”
4. Talking Back
Students who are wielding their newfound independence often talk back. You probably won’t get anything rude or offensive with young kids, but you’ll certainly encounter resistance to instructions or discipline. Education World explained that the key rule when dealing with backtalk is to simply not respond. You’ll get further simply waiting in silence for the student to comply than arguing with the dancer.
5. Not Retaining Lessons
It’s certainly frustrating when you spend 15 minutes working on plies, only to have your students forget everything they learned by the next class. However, keep in mind that your students are new to dance, and that the best way for them to learn is by repetition. Don’t be afraid to try new activities and games to mix things up, but make sure you’re reviewing essential skills often. This will help your little dancers retain the techniques that they’ll need to advance in their dance careers.