Ballroom Dance > Syllabus or tips for teaching children?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by mop6686, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    Hi all!

    I have been assigned the children's group class twice a week at my studio. It's one class of ages 5-8 and another of 9-12.

    I have some ideas, but I've never taught children before so I'm a bit uncertain. Here are my biggest questions?

    - What are the biggest differences between teaching 5-8 yr olds and 9-12 yr olds?
    - Any classroom management techniques?
    - What will always go wrong when teaching children?

    Basically, I just want to feel prepared and able to deliver a fun and structured lesson. Any ideas or personal stories are very much appreciated!
  2. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    What's the focus of these lessons? Are they young competitive couples (or would-be couples)? Or is it "just for fun"?
  3. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    Mostly fun, but I still want to make sure that they're learning to ballroom dance.
  4. Piggles

    Piggles Member

    I used to amateur coach figure skating and I found the biggest challenge is attention span (there's a huge difference between the average 5 and 8 year old). I might suggest teaching technique or patterns in small doses and then creating games which practice what you're teaching. For the wee ones, give them a pattern then a game, then technique and another game. The older kids will still be interested in learning the additional technique part while the younger ones may just want to play.

    I found the 9-12 yr olds much easier to teach because of their longer attention span and most of them will want to impress you with how much they can learn.

    My experience teaching children is that they'll always remember the dumb thing you did/said and remind you of it at every opportunity. :)
  5. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    Thanks for the tips!

    Is it abnormal to have a kids class of 5-8 yr olds?

    Also, can you give an example of types of games you've used? Did you use props, songs?

    I'm just at a loss right now :confused: I thought I was nervous when I had to teach my first adult group class! :rolleyes:
  6. biggestbox

    biggestbox Member

    kids are really adaptable. Are you teaching boys or girls? i would keep the boys together and the girls together, but keep strict discipline. Once you lose discipline it is really hard to get it back. Boys especially like boot camp style training. the best things about kids is that they are fearless, you can get them to do anything as long as they don't know it is difficult!
  7. ash_sk8s

    ash_sk8s Member

    REALLY??? I coach figure skating!!!

    Attention span is definitely a huge one. You will notice a difference even between 5 and 6 (especially if they aren't in Kindergarten yet!). There needs to be more up-front rules set with the younger group. They will also like to learn playing games, if you can think of any. I personally don't think 5-8 is a good split. There is a HUGE difference between the capabilities of 5/6 year olds and 7/8 year olds.

    The 9-12 year olds will obviously have a better attention span and can focus through a whole class. One thing I have found with younger kids is that they may or may not be there by their own choice (i.e. the parent wants them to take dance), but older kids are more likely to be there on their own accord.

    Have fun and be patient! :)
  8. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    Yes, I thought the age difference might be a problem. I'm not sure why they divide it that way.

    I guess I'll try to think of some games :?
  9. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    First thing is to get their attention... a basic Swing/ Jive to med. tempo music is a good starter .. for the smooth side.. a Waltz box step.

    Those will fit both age groups... add Cha at a later date
  10. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    I'm not sure who'll be in there, but I'm assuming more girls than boys.

    I had thought about teaching the basic routine to 'Blame it on the Boogie' - Side together, side, clap until the chorus. Then miming actions for "sunshine", "moonlight", "good times" and "boogie". We used do it at parties at my previous studio as a way to get everyone dancing. I could also teach 4 count Hustle (rock forward, rock back) and maybe incorporate that somehow.

    Too complicated or am I on the right track? I seriously know nothing about how kids actually behave or learn.
  11. Piggles

    Piggles Member

    I was totally about to write that!!

    It seems like millenia since I taught.....I'd need some time to figure out how to apply this to dance, but here's how the skating sessions were set up when I was a teacher:

    15 Minute Warm Up - Little girls love to chat and this allowed them to talk and skate. The music would be age appropriate (I taught CanSkate ages 3-10), and would encourage kids to practice skating, stopping, cross-cuts, balance, etc. The usual stretching stuff like moving the arms, legs, neck, etc.

    3 x15 minute classes - I would teach 2 classes and monitor a practice area for the third "class" My class size was usually around 5-10 kids and we'd review a couple of of the figures based on where the class was at (I had a little clipboard that listed the figures in that level and checked off when a child had completed it at the appropriate ability level). I would show them the figure and talk about the things that would help them do it, and 1-2 aspects that I was looking for in order to pass them. They'd then work at it and I would go around individually and provide assistance or ask what they'd like help on.

    Some of the figures lent themselves to games and others did not. Things like spins I could challenge the kids to count how many rotations they could do before they put their foot down.

    On the practice session, the boys would want to race and see how fast they could skate and stop (a la hockey). Little girls wanted to twirl. :)

    I was there to watch for safety and answer any questions the kids might have (Do you have a boyfriend? What grade are you in?).

    15 Minute Cool Down - Much like the warm up but with different games and music. Lots of skating around so that they kids were worn out for their parents when the session was done.

    You'll do great - try not to be nervous around the kids. To them you are a highly talented dancer whom they would like to emmulate and be their friend. Try to be confident and encouraging. They'll adore you! :D
  12. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    Thanks for the encouragement! I can't get any help at my studio. This is the class that gets passed around and people dread the day it is assigned to them.

    So maybe I'll start with an easy warm up to some fun music. Then teach them a move or 2, do that to some fun music. And warm down with something fun.
  13. harp34552

    harp34552 Member

    Maybe it would be worth thinking about how to turn some basic exercises and drills into games - for example, pair kids up, have one close his/her eyes and do lead/follow in a very basic way (leading by the hand). Then add arbitrary rules - you can only turn left, you have to switch hands, you have to chasse around the floor, etc etc. Then switch roles. You could do similar things with connection exercises (push/pull) - it would get the kids thinking about how to interact with someone else and how to work with a partner instead of just learning steps or combinations on their own. It has been my experience teaching kids that a couple things are essential: (1) variety, (2) very little talking, lots of doing, and (3) a ton of energy and an upbeat pace. Good luck!
  14. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    Ooo, great stuff! I'm starting to get a lot of ideas now. This is all really helpful! I'm !determined for this class to be a success.
  15. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    And a question - if there's mostly girls in the class should I teach them the lead and follow for each move? Or designate certain girls as leaders? Seems like teaching them all both parts could be confusing.
  16. harp34552

    harp34552 Member

    It would probably be counter-productive to have everybody switch parts for every dance; if you have mostly girls, I would teach two dances (e.g. a latin and a ballroom): split them in two groups and have one group lead the first and the other group lead the second. That way everybody gets a chance to lead and everybody gets a chance to follow.
  17. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    During my Google searches for help I found a book called 'Teaching Children Dance' by Cone. You can read the 'Partner Dance' section on google books for free. It's from page 152. Has some good ideas for partner dance games and lessons.

    Just in case anyone else needs it :)
  18. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    I have a question about discipline.

    Most of the parents sit and watch the class while it's going on. Should I assume that they will behave for the most part with their parents there? Should I assume that if they do misbehave their parents will step in and deal with the child away from the group themselves?

    I understand I may have to play "freeze" games to get them all to stop talking if it becomes too much. But do I need to prepare anything else for discipline? I figure keeping them dancing and occupied will help to minimize any disciplinary action needed.
  19. ash_sk8s

    ash_sk8s Member

    Don't assume the parents will even be paying attention. You're perfectly within your rights to ask a child to stop doing something, and to give them a warning that if a behavior continues they will have to sit down.

    But you are very right. The more they are moving, the less likely you are to have issues!
  20. mop6686

    mop6686 Member

    And this is my last question... I swear... maybe :rolleyes:

    Should I teach the same thing/the same dances to both different age groups? How should the two classes be different?

    Thanks for all the help everyone! This truly has been an education. I'm excited to see how it goes :D

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