I have been working with kids since 2010, and in that time I’ve trained a great deal with industry professionals. The one piece of advice that was common between all my mentors was this: Kids learn best when they are having fun.
That small sentiment has changed the way I teach my classes. Whether a child is 3 or 13, I have found that allowing her to act creatively and engaging her curiosity has a profound impact on how she retains information learned in class. Teaching tendue (which means to stretch and point your foot in ballet) is a simple task, but tendue isn’t a very exciting step. By using the “Hot Pond, Cold Pond” game, students learn tendue by being silly and engaging a sense of play. When asked later to repeat the step, they remember it because they have a fun memory of learning it.
One way I inspire that creative learning process is by utilizing props. In gymnastics, it’s easy to use props because they create physical obstacles that students need to either get over, around, or under, which builds strength, balance, and skills. In dance, it can require a little extra creativity, but it is worth it in the end. For ballet, I use felt holiday cutouts from the store as obstacles for jetes (leaps), flowers to practice step touches, scarves to practice por de bras, and crowns and wands to practice tiptoeing like a princess.
My students are some of the happiest and knowledgeable around (and I am in no way biased) (I am totally biased). Just kidding, but my students do love to come to class, and they are excited to learn each week, which is the biggest win I can ever have as an instructor. I can attribute most of that joy to the fun that I bring to my classes (the rest of it comes from the joy of dance and movement itself)!