01 JanNew pre school students joining an established dance class

For many teachers the start of a new term will bring new children into the pre school dance class. The new with the old, not always a comfortable mix.You will have the confident children who have known you for a while and will be eager to tell you all that has happened to them during the Christmas break. And there will be the new children, some of whom may not have attended a dance class at all. In this situation particularly when the children are as young as 3yrs it can be helpful for the teacher to greet the children before they enter the dance space. This will mean going to where the children are waiting or getting ready.Welcome the new children by name, chat with them, make them feel welcome. Ask all the children to link together and ‘make a train’ to go into the studio. Choose a special place on the train for the new children. Perhaps ask a child who has been attending for a while to ‘look after’ a new child who is standing either infront or behind them.
Imagine the scenario in the studio/hall if all the children who have attended the previous term are sitting with the teacher chatting about holiday activities and a new student enters accompanied by a parent. There is instantly a physical separation between the main body of the group and the new child and the parent. It is a big ‘ask’ to expect a 3 yr old student new to the class to walk across and join the main body of the group. Quite a bridge to cross. For the child who is not confident this can result in a reluctance to leave the parent and I have witnessed occasions where the reluctance has progressed to absolute refusal with tears and upset.
All of this is more likely to be avoided if a welcoming atmosphere is created before entering the dance space. If the teacher goes out to meet the children, to talk to them to know their names, they are more likely to enter the studio as a united and harmonious group!

One Response to “New pre school students joining an established dance class”

  1. twirltime says:

    Great blog post, it's certainly a challenge balancing the new and evolving dynamics in a dance class.

    I have often found that all the existing children can quickly assist the newcomers in settling in as they are so comfortable in the environment. This comfort with the teacher and the studio quickly sends a message to the child that it's safe and fun to be here.

    Mum should always stay and watch the first class maybe two – so that the she is also reassured that the business (inc teacher, class content and teacher strategies) she has chosen is most suitable for her child.

    As you've described, socially it can be confronting for a new child in the class – a great solution I have found is to request that all the children have a play together in park after ballet or before instantly the new children have ballet friends.

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