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Thread: Starting my first class for children!!




  1. #1
    Official BHUZzer nefabit's Avatar
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    Starting my first class for children!!

    Hello everyone!
    I'm both excited and nervous about starting my new children's class. I've done research for a while about teaching children, but I wanted to hop on here and see if anyone had any advice about children in general. I'll be teaching ages roughly 5 through 8. Mostly I'm worried about the possibility of reinforcing rules and discipline in general. I have a parent-teacher agreement basically talking about the rules, what I expect, and what happens if a child becomes unruly and that I reserve the right to suspend or remove students from class.
    I think it will be rewarding to teach young'uns to dance. Or at this age, my goal is just to help them love dance. Lay the foundations for technique, but focus on passion and fun. ^_^
    Very excited, my first class is August 4th!


  2. #2
    Advanced BHUZzer jewelbellydance's Avatar
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    Re: Starting my first class for children!!

    I teach workshops at a lot of kids parties and, though that's not the same thing as onging classes, here's some things I've learnt:

    - Keep it moving. Little kids have short attention spans, and will wander off or start doing their own thing if you lose their attention. So break your class up into lots of little sections, lasting a max of 10 mins each (sometimes one song is enough)

    Intersperse dance technique with fun dance activities.
    - One thing I've found all my kids love is being handed a rectangular scarf and following me around the room waving it about, every now and again stopping and spinning or doing a flamenco turn, kneeling and doing snake arms.
    - Surprisingly, the thing most popular is holding a cane between two adults and letting them limbo over and over and over while I play music. Then add another cane to the line, and another, then start waving them up and down. Nothing to do with bellydance but so popular, it gives me a break, and you can use it to introduce different pieces of music.
    - Allow the kids to sit and follow the beat by clapping/using instruments. Great way to introduce basic drum rhythms.

    - Kids love repetition - have some of the same sections every week and call them something fun. Have a cyllabus of movements which you practice often.

    - Use evocative imagery in your names of moves and explanations, as little kids don't always understand technical explanations.

    - Establish some ways of getting noisy children's attention back. Eg: when the zills sound everyone has to freeze immediately in a genie pose.

    - To get kids to sit or stand in a circle without it taking 30 mins to do so, get them to hold hands to make the circle first.

    - A dress-up basket full could be fun, with basic fabric scarves, a bit of cheap mini-bling.

    - Allow free time for kids to do their own thing (improvisation) and work off energy, so you'll have better control at other times. If a child is doing their own thing when they're not meant to, say "Joseph, we're doing xyz now. It will be time to improvise after this. Please sit down and join us now." With kids, you have to be direct and firm - they expect you to act like the teacher, even in dance class, and may be confused if you don't!

    - If you do have a child with an ongoing discipline problem, speak to the parents! If you have any primary/kinder teacher friends, they may also be able to give you some techniques on how to handle it.

    Good luck with your class. I love my kiddie sessions, they give me so much joy. I hope it works well for you, too!


  3. #3
    Master BHUZzer aziyade's Avatar
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    Re: Starting my first class for children!!

    Great suggestions Jewel!!!

    I just taught a summer session to 8-10-year-olds and it was a blast. Mine were obsessed with the hip scarves and desperately wanted to create their own combos and "free dance" to show each other what they could do.

    We didn't have an issue with discipline because the ballet studio where I teach is EXTREMELY structured and disciplined -- so the kids are used to being quiet and polite to their teachers. (Well, as quiet as you can expect from an 8-year-old.)

    Congrats on the class! You're going to have so much fun, and the kids will really crack you up with their enthusiasm and their comments. :)
    jillanna likes this.


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    Advanced BHUZzer carpediem's Avatar
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    Re: Starting my first class for children!!

    Sounds fun! I picked up a couple of things teaching Kindermusik classes...

    Some class management ideas:
    Have the parent(s) come in with the kids for the first few minutes and/or last few minutes and do an activity together or a kind of "show and tell". For many children, it helps to get them settled and into "class mode".

    Ask that the parent(s) stay in the waiting room during the whole class. (provide magazines, etc.) If a child is absolutely uncontrollable, you can bring them out. I hated to do this, but at times it became necessary.

    Having a plan/routine/order of class that you generally follow each time helps, also.

    Stickers/stamps (with "child-safe" ink) are great incentives.

    You might incorporate a special little song that indicates time to clean up or put away props you've been using; makes keeping order fun and important.

    Also, if they get too unruly and need to get settled down, you can hand out mini veils/handkerchiefs and do hand/arm dancing; even slightly dimming the lights sends a calming signal, especially if you can turn on a lamp that projects stars/colors, etc..

    You probably already do, but I'd also make sure I had insurance.
    jillanna likes this.


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    Official BHUZzer nefabit's Avatar
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    Re: Starting my first class for children!!

    Thank you everyone for the great suggestions! I'll definitely be thinking about all of that. I also thought - what about teaching children to play zills? It seems like something they would enjoy, at least as a section in class. Anyone have any experience with that? I think that playing simon says for drilling movements, and letting the children play bellydance follow the leader for improv skills would be great. I've also been referencing the wonderful book Beyond the moves by Taaj which has all kinds of activity and game ideas for class which I think would be perfect for children.


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    Just Starting! Houdah's Avatar
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    Re: Starting my first class for children!!

    Quote Originally Posted by nefabit View Post
    Thank you everyone for the great suggestions! I'll definitely be thinking about all of that. I also thought - what about teaching children to play zills? It seems like something they would enjoy, at least as a section in class. Anyone have any experience with that? I think that playing simon says for drilling movements, and letting the children play bellydance follow the leader for improv skills would be great. I've also been referencing the wonderful book Beyond the moves by Taaj which has all kinds of activity and game ideas for class which I think would be perfect for children.
    YES! I teach a few kids classes weekly during the school year. Kids are NOT afraid of zils at all. I like to use Artemis' methods with them since they respond really well to sayings when learning the patterns ("Hey hey look at Joe Hey look at Joe). They're also good at playing nursery rhymes :-) One trick that helps is when I put MY zils on my hips (picture hands on hips) it's their cue to SILENCE their zils.
    jillanna likes this.


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    Established BHUZzer jmdruadh's Avatar
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    Re: Starting my first class for children!!

    That's awesome! I would love to teach kids some day. Let us know how it goes.


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