Kindy Kids - What to expect in Encore's classes
Let’s admit it, our little ones first dance class is probably more exciting for you, (the parent/carer) than it is for them. You finally get to dress them in their cute little outfits, you get to see their excitement as they follow someone else, meet new friends and you get to witness new milestones. However, you suddenly get a little confused when you wonder why “they’re not doing anything” or “They’re not doing exactly what you are doing”. My NUMBER ONE rule…. If they’re not kicking and screaming to leave, they’re learning. I know we all say it but EVERY SINGLE CHILD IS DIFFERENT! And you have to remember, they’re still human!
As adults (actually as humans!), some days we are cranky, happy, overwhelmed, emotional, tired!! We go to work doing the same thing that comes second nature to us, but on that day it doesn’t go right! We make mistakes or sometimes the energy of our day is off and we aren’t quite sure why.
And I think we sometimes forget that our little stars feel those EXACT emotions. The only difference is, we expect them to handle their emotions and we get frustrated when they don’t (CAN’T). But do we really know how to handle our emotions? I know I’m still trying to figure them out. Learning when to put the laptop away, learning to go on a walk or take a breath if things are getting too much, lay down in the middle of the day if I’m simply tired or making a list if I’m getting overwhelmed with things I ‘need’ to do. So why do we feel frustrated when our little ones might not want to dance that day, they might want to sit on mums lap for the whole class, they might not want to give the prop back when I ask, they might want to explore the room and do something completely different to what’s ‘expected’. A week doesn’t go by without me hearing ‘wow you’re so patient, I don’t know how you do it’. But what is my other choice? Shout? Tell them off? Stop the whole class and wait for everyone to be sitting and waiting for my next instruction? Honestly, all that will do is stress me, the parents AND the children out. For what gain?
Don’t get me wrong, each class has a different expectation. As our stars get older and start moving into the Silver Stars and Gold Groovers, yes we do expect orders to be followed more, lines to be formed, no running back and forth every 2 minutes. But again, standards are set and children understand more as they get older. That isn’t to say every week a child will react the same. Funnily enough today I had one of my older students who has actually danced with me the longest not want to do anything unless I was by her side, or holding her hand. That is what she needed on that day, that’s what she needed to feel safe and secure whilst she danced. So I gave her that. It wasn’t favoritism, it was simply support. And the result was she managed to dance and go home happy. That is the bottom line for me.
So next time your little one needs to be in a different area of the room, doesn’t want to get off your lap, doesn’t want to give the prop back. Let’s just ride with it. Let’s support it and talk positively about it. Because sometimes not saying no makes a happier environment for everyone. If you have an older child one that may not be listening, lets encourage them to sit down with you for a couple of minutes to take a breath before continuing in with the class.
Below I have outlined some rough guidelines of each class for different ages and how I like to progress them but please keep in mind these are all rough and I like to keep my classes flexible on what kind of environment different children respond too. Not one class is ever the same.
In this class children may take longer to get comfortable with my ‘routine’ and even me! They will need a lot of encouragement from a career. I tend to teach the parents/ careers more than the child in this class and soon enough they will follow. If they do not stay with the group the whole time.. this is fine! Let them explore what they need too and soon enough they will come back and join in. Pulling them away from something and forcing them to “watch Miss Emily” or “copy what Miss Emily is doing!” will only confuse them as they haven’t finished exploring what they have found and you will cause frustration and stress upon them, especially if they are new to the class.
I also do not worry too much about staying on their circle, I introduce it and use phrases like ‘OK back to our circle’ but honestly this is more to direct the parents so that you can then help to encourage their little one over to (in an excited voice) “let’s see what Miss Emily has in her bag!” “Oooo I wonder what is coming next, I can’t wait to see” “I’m going to see what is coming next”. You are then exciting your child, they will want to know what you know and do what you do along with giving a child the choice and intriguing them, rather than forcing them.
There is also no right or wrong in this age group when it comes to moving, if I bend my knees but they wiggle their hips then great! Praise them, over praise them and encourage more! They’re dancing, they’re moving and they’re learning! If your child is having a tired day and they do get overwhelmed for whatever reason (as we all do) I suggest taking them away from the circle (positively), sit with them for a couple of minutes and continue speaking to them about the class and what is happening “we will sit here and see our friends, wow can you see Miss Emily on her tippy toes” and when they are ready come back into the circle.
Now depending on whether your child has moved up from Bronze Bubs or they are completely new to dancing depends on how they will react to this class. I do try to keep the layout and routine of the classes similar, more is just expected in the sense of staying on their circle and how they join in. Towards the start of the year they do still tend to be quite young, so the first couple of classes your child may benefit to them having you near them encouraging them. Even if your just seated with them. However, as the classes go on and the longer they have been with me we do expect silver stars to start being able to do the class on their own, especially towards the second half of the year, again depending on how new they are to the classes and the child. We want dance to be a special and fun time for both you and your child so I do believe we have to work together to get your child comfortable and confident, rather than making them come into a new room, new people, new teacher and ‘making’ them do what ‘all the other children are doing’ on their first few classes. We do also tend to introduce more structured dance steps with their first position and demi plies etc. However, do keep in mind co-ordination, turn out and patience is something they are still developing!
This is our oldest class of Encore Kindy Kids and again everything depends on when they started dancing and how long they have danced with me. We do usually encourage children to do this class completely alone from the get go, we do also try to limit how much your little one comes back to you during the class. We have little breaks whilst changing props or having a drink for children to come back to you and yes some children do like to ‘check in’ for their own reassurance, they also feel a sense of pride where they want to come back to tell you that “I did it!”, even though we know that yes you have just seen them do it they want to share that moment with you! And we completely support that. In this class we introduce more structure, response and standards as a lot of our Gold Groover’s tend to move up into our Pre-junior classes at our home studio so once they are ready for this, the transition is a smooth exciting one!
However, if you’re reading this you will more than likely have been to our classes and understand that not every child is the same, all of the above is a guideline and not every class will run to plan. And again THAT IS OK! If your little one isn’t reacting the same as they did last week, ride with it. Support them and encourage them.
Don’t forget the power of observation, sometimes our children will watch some things, before they do it, especially when our adventures have changed. Let them. Let them learn how they need to learn.
**As I may have mentioned once or twice, not one child is the same. Therefore we do have flexibility between our classes even up to pre-junior. If your child is on the younger or older end of the age groups then we may advise a different class either the younger age group or the older, depending on each individual child. We like to keep communication open for this to be discussed and decided**
“Children learn more from what you are, than what you teach”- W.E.B Dubois.
Miss Emily. x