“No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.” Looking the part is an important piece to the puzzle all throughout life. Just as we would not wear pajamas to an interview, it is crucial dancers show up to dance class with the proper attire. Dressing appropriately for class shows respect to fellow dancers and the dance instructor. It allows each dancer to focus on their dance training while creating unity among the dancers in the classroom. All dancers must be responsible for coming to class with the proper dance attire while also remembering to bring the correct dance shoes. Hairstyles are equally important when showing up to dance class. Having hair pulled back and neat allows dancers to move freely without the worry of hair hitting their face or getting in the way. Most dancers love the glitz and glam that comes with the sport. We are given the opportunity to wear magnificent costumes and to perform in front of audiences. Once a dancer steps into their costume, they are transformed. That is the magic of dance! Before we hit the big stage with the costumes, lights, and lipstick, we must remember that classes are the most important part of a performance. This is where all the hard work, dedication, and countless hours of rehearsal are spent. So please, show up ready to dance and dressed to a T.
When we sat down and started building our lesson plans for our pre-school and school age classes at Heart & Soul we knew that implementing warming up and stretching into them was an absolute must. We know that many parents wonder why we have their children stretch and especially why we spend time stretching, but let me tell you it is for a wonderful reason!
We start every class with 5 minutes of either a rapid movement game for the preschoolers or teacher lead cardio for our school age athletes. Starting a class this way allows the kiddos to warm up their muscles and their bodies, allowing them to get ready to move! The games that we play with our pre-school classes are what we refer to as gross-motor skill building activities, we focus on hand-eye or foot-eye coordination, learning how to kick a ball around an obstacle course, and building color knowledge. With our older students we make sure to get their muscles warm and their blood pumping with running, jump ropes, hula hoops and other teacher lead cardio activities. This ensures that every warm up is effective and FUN!
We spend another 5 minutes stretching after the warm-up activity. This is the time when we teach your kiddos about important body positions, alignment, and helping them build their flexibility. We hold stretches for 10-30 seconds, this amount of time allows the kiddos to lengthen their muscles without causing any damage. Holding a stretch longer than these times can cause permanent damage, like scar tissue and have negative effects on your child’s performance. We also make sure that we stretch both sides of our bodies equally, favoring a right or left side can lead to a multitude of physical problems later in life, so we like to make sure that every side of the body is stretched correctly. The act of following a weekly stretching routine will not only help kiddos build strength and flexibility, but it also helps to improve their concentration, focus and memorization skills. Setting the tone for the class by following the teacher during stretching, ensures that they will follow directions and listen more closely throughout the rest of class. This is also why it is incredibly important to be on time for classes, so that none of the warm-up is missed.
When we begin to build focus and memorization in young children, we know that it will help them throughout life! With the practice of stretching, it has been found to help with lessening pain related to growth plates, helping to build better posture, and it also has been found to lower the amount of sports related injuries over the life of an athlete. Listed below are some of the basic preschooler and school age stretching if you want to bond at home with your kiddos and stretch together!
Tumble with Me Stretching
- Reach tall to the sky! Can you tickle your nose? Tickle your tummy? Tickle your toes?
- Jump open your feet! Can you make a big rainbow to one side? And the other side?
- Sit down in a butterfly stretch and make your toes kiss! Can you put your nose to your toes?
- Open legs into a straddle! Can you tickle one foot? Can you tickle all the way to your other foot?
- Reach tall in your straddle and TIMBER!
- Bring toes together into a pike stretch! Say go away toes (point) and come here toes (flex)! Catch your toes!
- Make a tuck position, place your hands behind you on the floor and make a table.
- Come down and rock and roll in your tuck position!
- Stand up and show your stick-finish-flare! (Ta-Da!)
School Age Stretching
- Arm circles backwards and forwards (5 ea)
- Crisscross arms in the front and back (feet shoulder width apart)
- Trunk twists with feet apart
- Roll neck side to side then hold while looking at their toes
- Straight body then reach for toes, while keeping their legs straight
- Squat down and jump to a push up position and do 5 push ups
- Set knees down and stretch wrists on the floor
- Do hip flexor and hamstring stretch
- Right and left leg splits- hold each for 10-15 seconds
- Middle split hold for 10-15 seconds
- Roll hips back and sit in a straddle for straddle stretch hold right, left and middle for 5-10 seconds
- Swing legs together into a pike position- reach and hold toes for 10 seconds
- Bridge position for 10 seconds- have feet together with knees bent, pushing their shoulders over their hands
- Rocking chairs x 3 to a stand
Music and movement play a vital role in developing coordination and motor skills in young children. Even as early as infancy, children begin to experiment with their bodies to learn how to move and control them in order to interact with the environment. At Heart & Soul Kids Activity Center, we offer a variety of dance and movement classes for children and parents together to help your little one learn to use and move his body from a young age.
The Benefits of Dance for Young Children
Dance and music are pre-verbal concepts that young children embrace readily and easily. Moving one’s body to the beat requires no formal teaching, while at the same time encourages creativity and self-expression. Exposing young children to dance and movement teaches concepts such as rhythm and balance, as well as how to interact with peers in a social setting and how to cooperate and coordinate movements with others.
Heart & Soul’s Dance Options for Young Children
At Heart & Soul Kids Activity Center, we are pleased to offer a variety of dance and movement classes for children. Our Dance With Me sessions allow children (starting at 18 months) and their parents or guardians to explore movement and dance together. At Talk and Twirl, (offered in the summer) children aged two to four and five to eight take part in a mix of dance play and language development with the help of a Heart & Soul dance instructor and a certified speech-language pathologist.
Are you ready to enroll your child in one of Heart & Soul Kids Activity Center’s dance classes in Tucson? Please stop by our website for a more in-depth look at the classes, camps, and events we offer for children of all ages, including dance, tumbling, and martial arts. If you’re ready to register, you can contact us online or give us a call at (520) 818-7974 to reach a staff member for assistance.