Are you a dance teacher who is pulling her hair out in the process of how to teach skipping to your babies?
Unfortunately, if a 3-year-old can’t skip naturally already, it is usually quite difficult to teach them the skill of skipping for dance purposes.
All children should learn this skill as it is a fundamental building block for general coordination.
Here is the best way I can think of and use on how to teach skipping to a 3-year-old.
There are also exercises to help with how to teach skipping, and milestones you can check to gauge if the child is ready to learn to skip.
How To Teach Skipping
Sometimes these tactics are successful and sometimes not, depending on the child in question, but generally by the time a child is 4 years old they have developed enough skills to be able to skip. I have however had varying levels of success with 3-year-olds and teaching them to skip.
How Do You Know If A Child Is Ready To Learn To Skip?
Here is a list of things that can help you to gauge whether a child is ready for skips or not. These types of exercises can also be used on small children to improve their existing motor skills.
- Can the child do 4 or more hops on one leg?
- Is the child balanced evenly on two legs when standing?
- Can the child do smooth and even walks with the upper body relaxed?
- Can the child run smoothly with equal use of both legs?
- Can the child crawl using both sides of the body evenly?
- Can the child sit on the floor with straight legs and lift alternative feet to touch her knees with a controlled back?
- Can the child flex and extend her ankle joints?
- Can the child do forward gallops on both legs?
- Can the child do sideways gallops?
- Can the child jump and land evenly on both feet?
- Can the child march?
- Is the child’s head held upright, level and balanced and is it centred over the shoulders.
- The child should also be able to do basic head movements like nodding and tilting the head from side to side.
How To Teach a 3 Year Old To Skip
A good exercise to start with in preparation for skips is marching.
Children generally love to march and you can make it lots of fun for them by pretending to be soldiers or ponies.
Encourage the children to get their knees up high, preferably horizontally to the floor, and once they have that right they can practice making their toes touch their knees each time they lift them.
Children will normally learn to do a one-sided skip first with their strongest leg.
To help them along you could skip next to them hold their hand and give a little upward pull on the hand when the hop should come in.
Try letting them skip in partners and pair children who can skip with those who can’t.
Doing some of the exercises in the above list can also help to prepare their bodies and their brains for the coordination needed for skipping. Make the exercises fun and imaginative for them. Don’t focus on one step for too long as young children only have a limited attention span.
Be patient with the children while they are learning to master a new skill, and don’t criticize them individually. Rather make general and informative comments like ‘my right leg is stronger than my left’ or ‘who can jump really high?’
Let them grow at their own pace and encourage them by complimenting them when they reach another milestone.
Even your older students can benefit from doing skips, and it is actually amazing how many 9-year-olds nowadays battle with this basic skill. Fundamentals on coordination development are crucial throughout the beginning few years of ballet, otherwise how can we build without a foundation?
If you want some more ideas on choreographing for this age group, click here.
Please, teachers, share your comments on how to teach skipping to a 3-year-old and what works for you.