To someone on the outside, seeing children skip around the room, wave around colorful scarves, yell silly phrases or hop around like frogs, may not seem like productive dance class activities. However, instructors have reasoning behind these “silly” activities.
In early dance classes (ages 3-7), most children are still undergoing muscle development and learning control. Activities such as skipping and hopping can help children become more aware of the ways their bodies move. These movements also help to develop the muscles necessary for more advanced skills. Instructors also often find it helpful to turn regular skills into games. Rather than having children repeat a passé 10 times in place, having them walk around the room as flamingos may resonate more.
Walking across the floor in relevé may seem tedious, but to young children, it can be a large feat. To their young developing minds, choreography memorization can seem impossible. Learning different short phrases that are repeatable throughout the season help to work on memory. Memorizing an entire routine in the first month of class is impractical at this age but memorizing the proper response to “1 2 3 eyes on me” is a good start at working memorization.
While technique and skills are important, so is development. The games and activities done in early dance classes set children up to be successful with higher age groups. If you are curious about how a certain activity is furthering your child’s dance progression, ask the instructor! Most dance instructors will be more than willing to share the reasoning behind the activities. This will also allow you to assist your child in practicing at home!