The best way to teach the ballet positions feet to little ones, is to use a language that little dancers will understand. It is not important in a five year old’s mind to learn what 1st Position is, they are just there to dance and have fun.
With little ballerinas it is best to stick to parallel when teaching them, especially when jumping. Let them feel their knees over their toes first before trying to get them to dance turned out.
A good way for them to get the feeling in 2nd Position is to get them to stand in parallel 2nd, feet hip distance apart, squeezing a ball between their knees. Get them to bend and stretch without dropping the ball. The knees will tend to go inwards when they bend, but the ball will help them to get their knees aligned over their toes.
A good way to teach ballet positions feet, especially for little ones, is to come up with special words for the positions that can help them associate to the positions of the feet. For example you could call first position “smiley feet” or tell them to look down and check that their feet are smiling at them.
You could also try placing their feet in parallel and then tell them to open the door and get them to open up their toes and keep their heels together.
How To Teach Ballet Positions Feet
When you approach first position, make sure that their knees are over their toes. Don’t let them turn out too much as children love to exaggerate and stand with their feet at 180-degree turnout.
I tell my children that this is very bad for making pretty ballet legs. Let them work to their ability and do some plies in 1st, explaining that the knee must open over the toes.
Using pictures helps. I tell them that their knees are like an umbrella shading their toes.
Young children have a limited ability to understand turnout from the hips so when introducing 2nd Position, you could have them jump out and in. Try to stop them from going too wide and work in parallel or natural turnout.
Let them try to stand in second and check that the weight is evenly placed in the middle of their two feet.
Make sure that the children have their weight equally on both feet when standing. All the toes should be on the floor and the ankles should be in a straight line and not rolling forwards.
I usually show them 3rd Position of the feet, but at this age we don’t work from third as they are not developed enough to be able to understand using both sides of their body equally, and tend to put more weight on one leg than the other.
I also like to show them 4th and 5th position, although I don’t work from these positions either at this age. They usually ask as they are curious once they know there is a 1st, 2nd and 3rd position of the feet.