04 MayClass Size does matter!

Dance classes for young children aged 3+ years are currently very popular. These classes often provide the ‘bread and butter’ of a dance school or fitness studio. Often their profitability subsidises the more senior classes where the attendance often drops because of school work or competition with other extra curricular activities etc. When children are young it is largely the parent who intitiates and selects an after school activity. As children grow up and become more independent in their thinking they begin to exert their opinion as to the activities that they enjoy and wish to continue and those that they don’t and wish to stop.

At 3yrs however it is the parent who has control. Teachers are understandably delighted at the number of  parents who enrol their children for ’baby’ classes. The higher the attendance the greater the profit and it is all too easy for profit to become the main motivator in the numbers game. It is not uncommon for teachers to boast quite proudly that they have 25 children in one class believing that the high number is clear evidence of their personal popularity. 

Even with a student teacher as an assistant I would not  advocate a class of this size. If the class duration is  30 minutes a considerable amount of that time would be spent manouvering children eg entering the dance studio, sitting on the floor for registration, standing up again, positioning the children for dancing round the room etc

Young children don’t like to be hurried. They like to do things at their own pace. If they are hurried they can begin to feel uncomfortable and resistant which leads to disharmonyand fractiousness.

Although there are teachers who can keep control of 25 children in a dance class it can, on a regular basis, prove to be more of a challenge than a pleasure!  

For a weekly dance class to be enjoyable it has to be enjoyable for both pupil and teacher.

My own teaching experience together with  observations of other pre school dance classes has led me to conclude that an attendance of between 10 and 12 is a ’comfortable’ maximum number. The teacher then has time to listen as well as instruct. Good communication is a fundamental requirement of effective teaching. Taking time to understand the individual characterisitics of each child is part of this process as is eye contact.

Be kind to yourself and limit the class numbers.

Teaching dance to young children should be a pleasure not an endurance test!

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