Looking for a preschool dance class for your little one?
It can be a little daunting trying to find a program that will nurture, stimulate, and encourage your child. And of course, if it isn’t fun and they aren’t having a good time, then what’s the point?!
In this post, we discuss the benefits of dance classes and four things that you should look out for when choosing a class for your child.
Dance classes provide preschoolers a chance to develop vital physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills. No other activity allows students to work on fine and gross motor skills, develop language skills, all while learning to take turns, share, pack away, and express their feelings and emotions.
A good preschool dance class should complement the stages of your child’s development.
At this age, children are exploring the world around them, developing relationships between themselves and other things and people, and discovering new words, movements, and feelings all the time.
Preschool dance should enable your little one’s natural occurring development… and then amplify it!
So what are some signs of an effective and positive preschool dance class?
A quality preschool program should be created with early childhood development in mind.
There are massive differences between the developmental landmarks of a 3-yr-old, 4-yr-old and 5-yr-old. A good preschool dance program separates these ages to provide quality, developmentally appropriate learning experiences.
Children develop at different rates across different areas. While one student may enter class with advanced physical skills for their age, their language skills may be further behind. Alternatively, another student in the same class may have more developed cognitive and emotional skills, but not be as coordinated or strong as other children.
A good preschool program takes this into consideration and provides opportunities for students to learn and succeed across all these areas. It doesn’t place the same expectations on all students and allows each child’s unique strengths to shine through.
More importantly, a good dance class doesn’t push little bodies into positions too soon. At ages 3-4 students should be working in parallel. So make sure the class doesn’t place too much emphasis on perfect ballet technique. At this age, it is so much more important for your little one to be jumping, balancing, tiptoeing, and spinning their little hearts out.
Traditionally, dance is teacher-led leaving students as passive receivers.
As Dr. Annie Spell, child psychologist and co-creator of Leap N Learn says, ‘The job of a child is to learn through play’.
Pretend play gives children the chance to problem solve, choose how to interact with scenarios, and creates incidental learning moments.
A good dance program allows students to be co-creators and to have their voice heard. While students will learn specific dance steps, a good preschool dance class allows children to experiment with moving and making meanings in their own way.
Classes for kids under 8 years should be engaging, fun, and situate learning in playful, imaginative and creative settings.
What separates an amazing preschool program from the rest?
The most beneficial programs are those that allow students to make their own interpretations and make their own connections and suggestions.
This includes making their own movement choices or dreaming up and expressing their own meanings for their movements. A class that does this is truly focused on developing the child as an individual, not as a clone.
The world is a big, exciting place full of diversity and difference… and a good preschool class should be too! Does your child do exactly the same thing week in week out, all year? Is your child being given the same props every week? Fairy wings? A wand?
Props should be carefully selected to match the learning outcomes of an exercise. Giving a kid a wand and telling them to run around is not creative dance. A good preschool program uses props to amplify the quality of movements and add a layer of creativity and fun to the exercise.
An experienced preschool dance teacher will be able to put that silky colourful scarf to use in at least 79 different ways. You’ll see it floating about the room, being laid out flat, picked up, folded, scrunched and thrown. It could be pair of wings, a picnic rug, lava, a blanket, or the wind.
Sure, we learn through repetition. But repetition doesn’t need to be stagnant. And it doesn’t need to lack creativity.
A good preschool program will use props to add variety to the movements and exercises that are repeated each week. After 5-6 weeks you should see new elements or activities being introduced. And by the end of the year they should be able to jump, twirl, count, tiptoe, balance and leap like never before!
The best preschool dance classes expose children to new concepts, words, ideas, themes, and feelings. If your child’s preschool class isn’t providing them with diverse experiences, then they’re missing out!
While diversity in props and experience is key for an enriching and engaging preschool dance program, the class also needs to have structure. Sometimes it may be boring for parents to watch their child do the same thing again, but we need to remember what it’s like from the child’s point of view.
Think about how many times you’ve been forced to watch Frozen? I know that as a child, I watched The Land Before Time so many times the tape died.
Good structure is great because it shows little ones how to succeed.
So what does good structure look like in a preschool dance class?
The class should always follow a similar format. For example, students may begin in a circle, then do some things in the centre, and then finish off with more creative and interpretive exercises and games.
It also involves learning that we pack away the props we have now before we get new ones… great training for at home and later in life!
Structure can also be seen spatially – there are times when students are required to stand in specific places in the room, and times where they can choose where to stand.
All of these things allow children to feel confident and in control of their place in the learning environment.
It lets them know what to expect.
That means less room for negative surprises – such as feeling like they don’t know what to do – and more room for positive surprises – like the joy and elation of soaring through the air with a bright and floaty ribbon.
Pocket Rockets Preschool Dance is all about dance done different for the littlest movers and shakers in the Inner West.
Pocket Rocket parents see their child flourish in carefully sequenced lessons that are structured in the right way. There’s no silent classroom, strict obedience and uniformity here. We’re all about letting kids be kids… and having a whole lot of fun on the way!
Our Pocket Rockets are creative, unique and imaginative. Whether it’s pretending to open the lid on a fresh new pot of paint and popping it aside somewhere safe, laying out scarves like lava or grass or water, or galloping with jellyfish to get them back home, we love seeing what our Pocket Rockets come up with next!
We love using a wide range of props and stimuli in our Pocket Rockets preschool dance classes. There are treasure chests, ribbon rings, and rainbow coloured rectangles for colour identification games. We’ve got small, medium and big stars to learn about size and flowers for picking (and throwing!). There are big mushrooms to leap over, fans to open and close, balance beams, feathers and more!
Our program was carefully crafted by Elena Lambrinos, a doctoral researcher in dance education at the University of Sydney. It draws on the incredible Leap N Learn program and Elena’s own research to provide positive, inclusive and educational experiences for Inner West kids.
We welcome children of all abilities and capacities to come and join in the fun. Find out more about our classes here.
To get your child moving forward in the right direction just get in touch and we’ll be in contact via email in the next 48 hours.
Find out how we're making a difference in the dance world.