Preschoolers learn differently from children in other age groups. Because of this, preschoolers can be the most fun or the most difficult to teach depending on how you look at it or on your expertise. I have always loved teaching preschoolers however, once I really understood them after years of teaching my love for them grew so much more!
I could just sit and listen to a group or preschoolers talk and some days when I am teaching I wish we could do just that. They are old enough to have a conversation with but not quite old enough to really understand how the world works. Therefore the things that come out of their mouth are hilarious!
Because they are in this world of understanding but not they are perfect for a teacher to create a magical world around. You must do this if you want them to learn and have fun. I know there are programs and teachers that teach preschoolers just like they would teach older students and use the barre and repetition and that works for them. However I feel that is not necessary. I have also heard too many parents and students tell me how boring ballet can be.
To me, that is sad. There are students, parents and teachers who of course want that kind of structure and discipline in a ballet class. The tradition of ballet does call for that. But what about the people that don’t fit into that structure? There should be and luckily there are teachers who provide an alternative to people that want ballet but don’t want it to be as serious.
To be honest at the preschool level it doesn’t need to be serious yet anyway. There is plenty of time for a students to realize that they want to pursue ballet and put in the work it takes to good at it. My belief is that it can wait. Let preschoolers play and pretend while they still can. I have seen teachers try to teach preschoolers with a more serious approach and witnessed their class unravel before my eyes. In my classes I am constantly working on how I can engage my students creatively so they are completely focused on what I am teaching.
What does this mean? Well, if you are teaching a step to a preschool how do you teach it? When you tendu you can tell the students that you are dipping your toe into a puddle like Sleeping Beauty in the forest. How does the puddle feel? Is it too cold! Quickly pull your foot back in to first position! Turn teaching steps into a game!
How about the entire class itself? Can we pretend to be princesses or fairies and fly around the room as we tip toe or chasse? Let’s create a theme and all of the games, activities and dances we do will be centered around that theme. Use stories as a way to create a reason for your steps and dances. “We are traveling to the castle but there is a big rock in our path! Let’s leap over the rock!”
When you use creativity in your preschool ballet classes the students can’t help but to be swept right in! Creating a magical world for the preschooler is what we do in Wish Upon a Ballet!