When I am teaching a preschool ballet class I know I am not only teaching ballet and classroom skills, I am also responsible for making the class interesting. For a preschooler this means lots of storytelling and laughs!
In my book, How to Teach Preschool Ballet: A Guidebook for teachers I talk a lot about the fact that preschoolers need creativity to learn. It is not just a gimmick, it is an actual necessity. Preschoolers learn most effectively when there is a story to go along with learning.
We could go on a quest to find a stuffed animal, or swim deep in the ocean to find a mermaid treasure. A sorcerer could turn us into a swan. Or we could be transported to the Land of Sweets with our Nutcracker friend. I love bringing my students into another world in our classes.
I know a preschool class needs drama, however it also needs a lot of giggles! When we plié we pretend to open a window with our knees and if the weather is cold we have to quickly close our windows! If we tendu and pretend to dip our toes in a puddle there could be little frogs in that puddle that might nip at our toes! When we stretch our tickle fingers run up and down our legs and tickle our toes! There are so many opportunities to find a laugh in our activities.
However we are teaching preschoolers and we do need to find a balance between a few giggles and an out of control class. If we as the instructor go overboard with humor the class may quickly get out of control. Choose your moments carefully and quickly move on to something else.
There are many great songs that have humor that are great for classes as well. Disney friends such as Olaf and the Genie have songs that I use in my classes that are not only funny but are perfect for dancing. Choreograph the dance as you normally would and choose a phrase here and there where you can find the humor.
I love to make my students laugh. When you know what a preschooler thinks is funny it is very easy to accomplish. Even the “sit down, stand up game” to help the kids listen also gets everyone laughing! If my students ever get too squirrly I will say, “Okay everyone sit down and cross your legs! Oh wait a minute I mean stand up! No, I mean sit down! Wait no, stand up!” The kids think this is hilarious and now they are all laughing and looking at me to see what is next!
Preschoolers love when something is very fast or slow. They love when you can’t find something that they can. In our warm ups we shrug our shoulders very fast and say “I don’t know.” We look side to side before we cross the street. “There are no cars in the dance studio!” That’s silly! Their humor is simple but oh so adorable!
Remember to add humor in your dance classes! All ages can use a laugh, not just preschoolers. It keeps the class light, fun and learning is much easier!