When teaching ballet to young children, especially those in preschool, we have to be careful how we address posture for kids, especially when it comes to training certain aspects of ballet technique. We need to be both realistic and safe when teaching these little bodies and be very aware of what we are saying, as their minds soak up so much at this age.
Posture for kids, in general, is deteriorating because children sit a lot more nowadays than they used to. A lot of school going children have rounded upper spines because of this.
This is one of the reasons why more free play must be encouraged in the pre-schools and by parents at home. Children were designed to move, especially while their muscles are still developing in their formative years. Climbing is also extremely good for them, as they develop their core muscles. A jungle gym is not only fun for them, but also an essential part of their posture development.
Posture For Kids
A preschooler of between three and four years of age should be able to do the following while just standing.
- They should have their head centered over their shoulders and be able to hold it erect.
- The shoulders and the hips should be level and square when standing on both feet.
- The arms should be able to just relax at their sides.
- The tummy muscles should just be relaxed.
- The bottom is relaxed.
- The knees should be naturally straight, but not pulled up.
- They should be able to stand with their weight evenly on both feet.
- Their feet should not turn out or in.
- They should be doing all the above while standing and not battling to balance.
You will actually be amazed at how difficult some children will find all this to do.
How Can Teachers Try To Accomplish This Posture For Kids?
There are many games you can play in class to accomplish this and help them to strengthen their postures.
- Play freeze games, by letting them freeze and stand tall when the music stops. Gently remind them what their bodies should be doing while they are standing.
- They can reach up tall and pick an apple off the tree or a star out of the sky to get a basic awareness of their posture.
- Use imagery to help them to understand how the posture works. You could make them trees with their roots/feet planted firmly in the ground while the head reaches up to the sun.
- Let them ‘roll down a hill’ trying to keep their feet and legs together.
- Get them to crawl like a baby.
- Make them walk like bears on their hands and feet. Once they can do this, let them run like this. You can make obstacles for them like bean bags or cones for them to run around.
- Sit in a variety of positions and let them reach up, then around to each side.
- Bouncing on a therapy ball is a great way for them to improve their posture and balance.
- Let them slither on their tummies like snakes.
What Posture Corrections Not To Give Young Children
Never tell young children to pull up their knees, as this will cause the thigh muscles to overdevelop, and could weaken their hamstrings and knee joints. If they have swayback legs, the problem could become worse.
Never tell young children to tuck their bottoms under, as this could cause the muscles in the lower back to develop incorrectly.
Never tell young children to suck their tummies in, as the spine is too short in comparison to the viscera, and this again can cause the incorrect muscle development in the lower back.
Please feel free to comment below if you have any other great ideas on how to improve posture for kids.