Why is children's dance important?
Dance is a great way to introduce young children to creativity and movement. Multiple studies, including one published by the New England Journal of Medicine, have concluded that dance education has been shown to reduce stress, improve spatial awareness, increase energy, improve physical fitness, improve academic achievement, and increase mental capacity. Dance training also helps with social/emotional well-being and a child’s ability to cooperate and collaborate. In my classes, I have had the honor of seeing very shy children blossom and grow through the creative arts. Additionally, dance training helps with body positivity and self-confidence.
Preschool Dance Teacher
Hiring the right teacher is essential to the success of a preschool dance program. An experienced teacher with a patient and upbeat personality is best. I believe it’s important to train children correctly in dance from the beginning. An experienced teacher will be aware of the proper way to train motor skills, so that children do not get injured or develop poor body mechanics. Equally important are offering different learning modalities to teach the curriculum, such as, auditory, kinesthetic, and visual. An experienced teacher will be able to teach the dance content in multiple ways, so that all children will understand.
In addition to an experienced teacher, it’s also a good idea to have an assistant to help organize the children throughout the class.
Preparation and Preschool Dance Curriculum
Preparing a standardized preschool dance curriculum will set you up for success. I put together teacher training manuals for my programs with the class plans and curriculum available for my staff to review. This helps get all of the teachers on the same page and supports continuity in all classes. A set curriculum for your preschool class will keep young dancers engaged. Beyond curriculum, it is a good idea to have set, weekly lesson plans in place for each semester. This will save time. Children at this age need structure, so I have my preschool classes planned out to the minute. Having a class plan in place also helps to get the children back on track in case you happen to lose their attention (which can happen at this age).
Of course, preschool dance classes need to be fun for kids. Choosing the right music is essential. I like to play instrumental versions of Disney songs for ballet. The children love to imagine being a Disney princess or prince in a magical land while they are learning basic ballet. I find introducing different rhythms also effective. Children love to clap and jump to percussive beats. Props can also be fun to add to class. However, I have found that too many props can be distracting. One fun prop per class works well. I use scarves, spots or hula hoops on the floor that children can jump over, colored tape on the floor to practice balance and walking in a straight line, and small percussive instruments. Lastly, I give out fun stickers to the children after class to thank them for dancing with me and to acknowledge that everyone did a great job!