Today we have a guest post from Stacey Pepper Schwartz on creative ways to keep kids focused in the dance classroom. Stacey should know–she not only has worked with kids, but she is also the person behind, “Up Down and All Around” a movement program for young ones…read on…
3 Creative Ways to Keep Kids Attention
How do you keep your students’ attention in class? Not an easy task but an essential one! This is especially difficult around holidays, birthdays, vacations; any extra distraction can send even the most attentive group astray.
1. Be flexible. Pay attention to the energy and focus of the class. If the children are focused on the snow falling outside, no matter how fabulous your lesson is that you prepared, you will not be able to compete with mother nature. You can either choose to fight the children’s curiosity and amazement or harness it and incorporate it into the lesson or change the lesson all together. Sometimes the best lessons are created in the moment.
2. Music is key. Music can affect the mood or energy of the class. Change your music often. One week have your warm-up music be sounds of a rainforest and the next week a marching band. If the class has low energy put on an upbeat song to get them going and if they are bouncing off the walls have a soothing calm song ready to influence the energy in the class. As a special treat, each week have a child pick out a piece of music he or she would like to use to end class. (If the students feel a sense of ownership they will be more likely to stay invested in what you are doing.)
3. Challenge them and praise them! A simple way to keep your class’s attention is to challenge them! If they are focused on learning something new or doing a movement in a way they have never done before (like leaping backwards) they are more likely to stay focused. Boredom is the quickest way children can become disengaged. Also, children love to succeed and show off what they know so make sure to review something they have learned from a previous week and let them show you how good they have become! Then challenge them with a new idea.
Bio: Stacey is the Founder and Director of Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs. The focus of Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs is to help people regardless of age, experience or ability, become educated about their movement potential, develop kinesthetic awareness, and become more physically fit and healthy together as a family, and community.Leaping Legs promotes its goal through the original Up Down & All Around DVD. Utilizing the elements of movement, the video entertains as it motivates kids and their families to exercise together using movement games, silly exercises and challenges. The DVD received Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products 2009 Award and 10 Best Active Products 2009 Award. The DVD has also been featured in many magazines. In its August 2009 issue, Dance Teacher called the DVD “an essential tool for teaching the fundamentals of movement.”
Stacey received her BFA in dance performance at Montclair State University and her MA in dance education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has taught as an artist in residency and guest artist in public and private schools for over twelve years.