RA Dance Blog, Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips: How to Inspire Children to Dance

By no means am I, yet, an expert on this topic. I’m creating this post mainly as an exploration for myself and a reminder to try many of these ideas. As you teach you become aware that not everyone is motivated to learn, and as the teacher it is your job to help inspire them to learn. Having motivated and inspired children in the class makes it a lot easier to teach and have the students listen to you, but also get the best they can out of the lessons. Students who are inspired are more willing to push themselves that little bit further and have the desire to improve. Not everyone will become inspired, but if they are coming to a dance class there must be something they enjoy about movement or music.

Here I will share 4 ideas to get your students motivated during class. I will in the future update this post and share what I’ve found effective and what perhaps could be used instead.

  1. Build Confidence: Is it that your student doesn’t feel confident enough to do the movements or routines that you’ve created for them? Slowly build this confidence up, mix and match tasks where individuals are working in small groups and on their own. Some feel overwhelmed when ask to do something for themselves, this is especially true with choreography. Give positive feedback when they are doing things well and help them think back to that when doing something they feel they struggle with. To help with confidence you can also use constructive criticism from fellow peers. This doesn’t just include getting them to say positive things about each other, as older students begin to see through this and believe “they’re only saying that because they couldn’t think of anything else”. Instead, get fellow students to say something positive and something that they can work on. This way students can focus on the improvement while also knowing they’ve done something else well. This can also ease student worries about having loads to work on, as often the improvements fellow students will give to each other are small in comparison to our own thoughts about what needs improvement.
  2. Have Reward Goals: If the students need to work a little harder, perhaps give them something to work towards. Like a merit system that many become used to during their early days at school. Perhaps you organise a dance movie night at the end of each term and only send invites to the classes that have got x amount of points towards it. Rewards can also be given in a shorter time scale, if they work hard and listen could they play games or have a chat for the last five minutes of the lesson. Find something that they enjoy and use that to your advantage.
  3. Clear Instructions: This is definitely something I need to work on. Deliver clear instructions about your expectations and be firm when the students are not co-operating. Having a class that is all following along with instructions can create a better atmosphere for the class and help inspire students to take part and enjoy the sessions. It also give students clear boundaries and expectations that they know they will need to follow. This can go hand in hand with the last point, if they’re not following expectations perhaps they don’t get their reward.
  4. Appeal to the Class: It’s all good having a dance class, but the class needs to appeal to the children in the class. If the class is a set genre, think of things that fit around that that will appeal to the children. When teaching syllabus have great little activities that are age appropriate to help learn new steps. These things are ingrained in teachers early in their careers, but can be forgotten when trying to teach routines or choreography classes to students. Not all classes are the same and will needed different stimulus to help. One may want to have movie or books inspire them, whereas others may want to create a music video. Use examples or activities that will suit the group as a whole. This can also work for choosing the music for class, find the right tune and they’re more likely to want to join in. Often tunes that they’ve heard quite often and enjoy are ones that will help with attention spans.

Next time I come across un-motivated students I will be putting into practise some of these techniques. If you’ve got any other methods that you’ve found work well, don’t hesitate to let me know!

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