Y’all, it’s that time of year!

Remember being a kid and feeling all of the excitement that came with a new school and dance season? As a teacher, I still feel some of that today. The new possibilities, ability to start fresh, and anticipation of what’s to come is thrilling!

I’ve whipped together a few of my favorite back-to-school teaching tips for you. It’s important to remember that this is the first time in a dance class for some children, while for others it’s their first experience in an organized activity of any kind. Take this into consideration as you structure your class. A great mindset for this time of year is one of patience and grace for the little ones.

1. Start class in a circle

Circles make everyone feel safe and included, so they are a great way to begin the class ensuring that everyone is comfortable and happy.

2. Spend a little extra time calling roll

During the year, you want to spend as much time dancing as possible, with a very quick introduction and welcome period of class. However, in the beginning you really want to make sure you know each dancer’s name and make them feel welcome in class. Spend a little extra time (not too much) doing just that. You can ask them one of the following fun questions: What’s your favorite color? What was your favorite thing you did this summer? What are you most excited about regarding dance class? Who’s your favorite princess? They’ll love sharing information about themselves, plus you’ll get to know their name and personality a little easier. For example, if 80% of the class says Ariel is their favorite princess, you know a Little Mermaid song will be a huge hit to better maintain your students’ attention!

3. Establish class rules now

Don’t wait until you have issues. Make sure your students know your expectations. Young children work best when they know what their boundaries are.

Here are several great preschool dance rules:

⭐️ No talking while the music is on and your teacher is speaking

⭐️ No touching our friends

⭐️ Stay on your spot

⭐️ Listening ears need to be turned on at all times

⭐️ Watching eyes should be on our teacher during class

Covering these on day one will minimize discipline issues, give you immediate criteria on which to base end-of-class rewards, and ultimately save you time and energy down the road!

4. Be prepared to spice it up a bit the first few classes

Again, this is their first experience with dance. You want to make sure they can’t wait for the next class. You’ll have plenty of time to drill in that perfect technique (in an age-appropriate way, of course), but you won’t get many chances to win their hearts. Make sure your imagination is over-the-top and that class is fun. Keep these little ones coming back!

5. Set out as you intend to finish

If your studio doesn’t allow moms in class, don’t allow mom to come in and comfort her child on the first day. It will become a crutch. If you don’t intend to use reward stickers in your classes, don’t do it that first day, or they will expect it each week. Consistency is key in everything we do with little ones.

6. Have a nice bottle of wine waiting for you at home

The beginning of the dance season is fun and exciting, but it’s also exhausting. Be sure to treat yourself to a nice glass of wine and give yourself a pat on the back for your accomplishments and hard work. If wine isn’t your thing, treat yourself to a hot bath, a new book, or whatever floats your boat. Self care is important when you’re getting back in the swing of a new season and schedule, even if it’s as simple as setting aside time for a walk outside. Don’t forget to take care of YOURSELF!

Have fun out there! We hope everyone has a great dance season!