by Susan Bennett
We think of a Zen master as a wise and hyperaware person who brings goodness and joy, practices deep contemplation, and has great insight. With the following tips, such mastery in the preschool dance classroom can be yours.
Contemplate deeply what is developmentally appropriate for your preschool students. A master teacher should know at what ages children can crawl, walk, run, jump, hop, skip, or even remember dance routines. You can easily find this information by searching online for information on motor skill development. Then observe your students to check the information’s accuracy. This process requires Zen-like study, contemplation, and insight.
For example, students who are 35 to 38 months old (just turning 3) may be able to hop for a few seconds but not minutes. Offer exercises that let them practice hopping, but don’t expect them to hop across the room.
List developmental needs and limitations for the age groups you teach. Then use your wisdom to create or purchase lesson plans that will give your students joyful and developmentally appropriate dance experiences.
Now advance to the next level in your personal mastery. Be mindful of using age-appropriate content: language, music, costumes, choreography, cultural and social messages, and classroom interactions.
Remember, you are the wise master who mindfully does what’s good for students. So avoid accidentally exposing kiddos to mature themes by bringing in music and trends that are popular or common among teens and adults but not appropriate for preschoolers. Use only songs, activities, and images produced for young children.
A wonderful preschool class requires hyper-mindfulness of everything students need, including fostering the environment and culture of childhood.
Now Grasshopper, go forth and be fabulous.
Creator of Magnificent Moving Kidz, Susan Bennett has a BSED in dance and an MFA in performing arts, and teaches at Missouri State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance.