My teachers and I were very excited to begin our first day of classes this past week! For those of you who are getting ready to start teaching I thought I would share some first day of class tips. When you are teaching preschoolers the first day of class can be interesting. You must be prepared for anything.
On the first day of class students may be shy, excited, over energized, unfocused or all of the above. I had a teacher call me this week after her first classes. She had two classes back to back and they couldn’t have been more different. The first class was very unfocused and disruptive. The second class was extremely well behaved. As a teacher of preschoolers this is common.
Every preschoolers will have their own individual personality just like any other age group. The difference is that they are just starting to be able to express themselves and are not yet ready to understand behavior that is unwanted. They need to be taught how to behave in a class just like they need to be taught how to dance.
Most of the time you will hopefully have only one or two “silly” students in a class. However one or two silly students can lead to six, eight or ten silly students quickly if you don’t pull out your bag of tricks right away. Meaning you need to have tools to control silly students quickly. This teacher said she had many more than just one or two which had never happened to her before. Luckily it is rare.
Without seeing her class the advice that I gave her was to have many activities planned that were simple yet crowd pleasers. For me, I find the most popular activity for preschoolers is a parachute. The parachute is my lifesaver. A parachute helps in every situation. All students from ones that don’t listen very well to ones that are shy will grab a handle as soon as you pull it out. Yes the parachute can get out of control too so make sure you know exactly what you are going to do with it and keep it calm. I also use freeze games and animal games if a class is too rambunctious. They again are good crowd pleasers.
Be prepared that the first day of class may be chaotic. Students don’t know what to expect. Many of the preschool students have never been in a class before and don’t know what to do or how to behave. You do have to teach proper classroom behavior. The other issue that you will have is dealing with the parents.
Parents are also not going to know what to expect. They are going to be checking you out and checking out your class. Many of them are also not going to know what their child should wear or bring to class. They will have a lot of questions. Be prepared to answer any question that may come up. Also be prepared to just ease parent’s nerves about how their child will do in class. Parents hope that their children will listen, dance well and just be okay on their own. Help them to trust you and let them know that everything will be okay.
The last point is after the first day is over the rest of the session will change. Crazy classes will calm down if you are consistent or shy and well behaved classes may start acting up when they get used to you and start to trust you more. Always have firm rules but also don’t forget to have fun!
For more information on how to run preschool dance classes check out my book, How to Teach Preschool Ballet. It is available through Smashwords.