In this article, I will deal with how to teach ballet to children under the age of five. These are my views only, and I would love to have some other teachers of ballet to comment below on what they do in their classes.
I particularly enjoy teaching this age group, although it does have its own challenges.
How To Teach Ballet To Children Under Five
When teaching ballet to under fives, I try to use stories and relate them to the steps that we are learning. I have done this in two ways in the past.
1. Teach separate steps each with its own story.
2. Make up one long story and theme that carries its way through the entire class.
Both work well, although I find if given a choice, the children more than often want number 2.
If you prefer using version 1, then you could take a step like plies (knee bends) for instance and relate it to something the children will understand. If they were doing parallel plies you could tell them their heels are stuck to the floor with magic glue and the only way to break the spell is to bend with nice straight backs and knees directly over the toes 6 times.
If they do turned out plies, you could say that they must open the window and close the window. You could then have them stand opposite a friend and let them tell you what they see through their friends ‘window.’
If teaching jumps, you could all be rabbits or jumping beans. If teaching them to point their toes, use terms like good feet, princess feet etc.
Children relate far better when they use their imagination for movement, rather than giving them steps to do which have no meaning for them. It is also good for their developing brains and creativity to use imaginative suggestions when teaching the basic dance steps.
If using number 2 method, you will have to do some homework. Thanks to the internet, you can get some great ideas and stories off of there. I also make use of children’s story books and the latest children’s TV programs or movies.
For instance, Frozen, the movie, was a huge hit for children worldwide, and I don’t know any child who hasn’t seen it yet. Now you can take that story and some of the lovely music that comes with it to do a class.
Other great stories to use are classics like Goldilocks, Little Red Riding hood, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. All you need to do is decide which steps to teach, and see where you can fit them into your story. The wonderful thing about using stories is that you can add to them and elaborate on them each time, giving different outcomes and endings. That way the children can’t get bored.
You could also use everyday events to make up a story. For instance, you could visit the park. I would pack a picnic basket using my special fingers. Then I would skip, run or catch a taxi to the park. Once at the park, you could sit on the slide and show your good toes. You could also roll about on the grass. You could turn on the merry go round or swing (sway) on a swing. You could smell the roses, or fly like a butterfly or bee from flower to flower. The ideas are endless. Once you are done with your park adventure, you could catch a train home, or you could simply wake up in your bed like it was all a dream.
This is how I like to do my tiny tots ballet classes and according to me how to teach ballet to children, and I find it works very well with most children. There is nothing more rewarding for me than a happy group of children who can’t wait for their next ballet lesson.