How To Teach Ballet To Children

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.

how to teach ballet to children
Curtsey to the Queen

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.

how to teach ballet to children
What is my shadow doing?

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.




6 thoughts on “How To Teach Ballet To Children”

  1. After reading your post on how to teach ballet to 5-year old’s I’m wondering if you can do the same for 65-year-old’s?…I surely hope my Grand-children’s teacher read your post!



  2. Great post Michel! My 8 year old daughter takes ballet and tap and she has for several years now. I have definitely heard her teachers use stories that the kids can relate too in order to help them learn their steps. I think your teaching philosophy goes beyond dance and into everyday life too. We all like to have a reason that explains why we are doing whatever we maybe doing. Thanks for the wonderful post and keep up the good work.

  3. hi Michel
    what a wonderful way to teach young kids!! I worked with kids for many years as a psychologist and I can appreciate how different it is to teach youngsters. But their soul is so pure, their imagination so plentiful, that it can certainly be put to good use. Teaching them using a story that engages them is certainly the way to go I would say. As it would also help them remember difficult steps

  4. I was a ballerina when I was younger…. I absolutely loved it! I would attend 5 lessons of dance a week.

    I have now just had a baby of my own and I cannot wait to take her to her first lesson! Thanks for the insightful post and the great advice!

  5. I love your write up and I can really see the passion in it. And I must agree with you, that teaching little children of that age group can be difficult. Keep it up.

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