For kids and toddlers, dance class may simply be a weekly activity. However, with the company of a parent or guardian, the practice of dance can continue all through the week! Not only will dancing outside of a kids dance classes help your child to further foster interests in dance, but it can also elevate his or her dancing skills and coordination! Especially as little ones are preparing for a performance or annual recital, practicing dancing at home allows them to come away feeling happy and proud of themselves, and knowing that they can do their best at show time (click here for a seriously cute example from our YouTube channel). In addition, dancing at home with your little dancers also means extra family bonding time! It shows that parents are supportive of what the kids are doing and care about their growth. Despite of all the benefits, implementing at-home dance practice time often stumps the parents of young dancers. But no worries! Below, we’ve provided several tips for making practice time a fun activity for parents and dancers alike!
1. Talk with your dancer’s teacher
Speaking with your child’s dance teacher is a great way to begin your at-home practicing. The instructor is familiar with how your dancer learns, what he/she struggles with, and what routines and steps the dance class is currently working on. Oftentimes, dance teachers will post videos of specific routines online for the purpose of at-home practice. Communicating with your teachers not only ensures that you will collect the appropriate material to practice, but also provides opportunity for positive reinforcement in class.
2. Set A Schedule!
It is important that your dancer knows ahead of time when at-home practice will occur just as they would know when their dance class is. Carefully arrange the schedule of dancing practices among other things the little ones need to do, such as homework, sports and relaxation time. By planning ahead, it is something that he/she can look forward to! Post a calendar where your dancer can see it, and remind them in the morning if you have practice time scheduled for later that day. Keeping a consistent routine will turn practice into a habit, preventing arguments on days when your child may be feeling tired or lazy.
3. Create a Rewards System!
Children are very goal driven; give them something to work towards! Create a chart where dancers can track their progress. Perhaps after 5 completed practice sessions, a small reward is given…such as a trip to the ice cream store! (This means additional bonding time!) For bigger goals, perhaps 10 practice sessions, a larger reward may be given. Maybe a new tutu? Talk to your dancer about what would motivate him/her. As each reward is reached, the opportunity to discuss progress arises. “After 10 practices, look how much easier it is to shuffle!” Meanwhile, offering positive encouragement and praising your child for doing something well throughout the dance sessions are simple yet effective in keeping your kids motivated!
4. Make It Fun!
While practice is a time to focus on improving and memorizing, dancing together should feel like fun, not a chore! Obviously, your little one enjoys their dance classes for kids and toddlers, so at-home practice should be the same. Create a fun playlist (your dance teacher can help with song suggestions), set aside a special dance space in your home, backyard, or at community parks, and perhaps even put on your favorite dancewear. Let your dancer be creative; once you’ve practiced steps and routines from dance class for 10-15 minutes, encourage your child to show off his/her favorite moves, or create a small piece of choreography together! Giving your toddler the freedom to use his/her imagination will keep dance practice interesting, engaging, and fun! It will also be interesting if parents incorporate the classics or pop music into dance practices, such as Swan Lake or Nutcracker for dancers from toddler ballet classes, Selena Gomez or Taylor Swift songs for dancers from toddler hip hop classes, etc.
Every family is different, so take the time to see what kind of routine works best for you. As your dancer begins to improve and make progress in their kids and toddler dance classes, you can be proud and celebrate your hard work together! Think of all the fun you can have as you move and groove together throughout the week…who knows, maybe as a parent you’ll be inspired to take a dance class of your own!