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Teacher Tips: Movements to Include in Early Childhood Dance Classes

One question I often get asked as an early childhood dance educator is “What dance steps should I be including in my preschool dance classes?”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I often think early childhood dance teachers feel pressured to jump right into ballet, jazz, or tap technique with little ones. Parents are paying for a DANCE class after all. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
BUT… you can’t learn to spell without first knowing the letters of the alphabet. The same principal applies to dance!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Young children are still developing their foundational physical literacy. As teachers we need to ensure that children can successfully master basic locomotor and non-locomotor movements, before we try teaching them more advanced skills. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
There are so many possibilities for exploring these 11 movements when we teach conceptually!

A basic walk, for example, can be explored many different ways using different concepts:⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • Walking through the Space/ in Place (Space)
  • Walking Fast/Slow/ to the Beat (Speed)⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Walking Forwards/Backwards/Sideways (Directions)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Walking Smoothly/ Sharply (Energy)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Walking with Big steps/ with Small steps (Size)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Walking Low/ Middle/ High (Level)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Walking Beside/ In-Front/ Beside a partner (Relationships)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Once young children have a strong foundation in these basic movements it is much easier to present genre specific dance techniques and terminology. A bend becomes a plie, a jump becomes a saute, a stretch becomes a tendu, etc, etc. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When we teach children in a developmentally appropriate manner we ensure their dance education is MEANINGFUL and ACHIEVABLE!

~Jessica Baudin-Griffin, Intellidance® Founder