Stacey’s Dance Studio offers a wonderfully unique program that cultivates a love of dance and the arts in our young dancers. Preschool dance classes for 3-4 year olds is a combination of ballet tap, gross motor skills, and tumbling. The preschool dancers will be introduced to a variety of beginner dance steps. First and foremost, the 3 year olds will learn how to “follow the leader”, how to “wait in line”, how to “take turns”, and how to “follow simple directions”. Since most 3 year olds haven’t been to preschool yet, a lot of basic class management skills need to be established early on in the class, to ensure success for the entire year.
Our preschool curriculum offers a variety of dance genres and the opportunity to use make believe and imagination. The program is updated yearly and follows a week by week progression format. Weekly lesson plans are followed, and each lesson has specific music, themes, and skills that are taught. We use a variety of dance music including current preschool favorites. Since 3 year olds learn from repetition, we will use some familiar favorites such as the ABC song and Itsy Bitsy Spider along with dance steps, and props. They will improve their coordination by singing and dancing, while staying actively involved in the class.
A variety of dance props are utilized in the 3-4 year old class to engage students and encourage active participation. For example, in a class we may practice first position, plié, and chassé. After that, the dancers will transform into “Sleeping Beauty,” adding a crown, tutu, and wand. We dance to princess music as we incorporate the new skills learned into the imaginative roll playing. We also will introduce life lesson throughout our dances. For example, we would play the song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” as we talk about friends, how to make friends, and how to help others who may need a friend. We incorporate the following skills into our curriculum:
- Gross Motor Skills: Marching, skipping, hopping, leaping, and twirling are all ground work for future dance steps and overall coordination. These skills are reviewed each week and are mastered at individual rates.
- Tumbling: Tumbling is very beneficial for young dancers as they are very flexible; however they lack upper body strength. We work weekly on arm and shoulder strength. It is amazing to see the progression each week the dancers make as they gain control of their bodies and gain strength. It is important to teach the 3 year old the correct way to do a forward roll, cartwheel, hand stand, etc. All of our techniques are based on words that the preschooler can relate to and understand. For example when we teach a forward roll we tell them first they are going to be a “big tree” (reach up with arms above the head), then a “little tiny bush” (squat down in a tuck position), then they are going to “roll”.
- Ballet Skills: Specific ballet skills are introduced and mastered by the preschoolers. We will introduce many skills, and each week these skills will be reviewed and new ones introduced. Some basic skills the dancers will learn include: first and second position, plié, relevé, tendu, chassé, passé, échappé, sauté, etc. We introduce our ballet friend “Mousey Girl Friend”. All our skills relate to “Mousey” in order to help the 3 year olds comprehend the skills and when adding our friend, they become actively involved. Example: First position is where the heels are “kissing” and the toes are opened, making a triangle shape. We tell the dancers Mousey needs a house, but the back door must be closed so she can’t get outside in the back yard. We tell them Mousey has a swimming pool in the back yard and she is not allowed to go near the pool without her mom or dad. The front door needs to be opened so we don’t “squish” Mousey. Using our imaginary friend, dancers quickly feel like Mousey is their friend and someone who is going to help them learn to dance.
- Tap: Tap is a wonderful tool to assist a young preschool dancer who may favor either her left or right foot. Putting on a pair of tap shoes and allowing the dancers to march to music, tap, heel, toe, and shuffle is a wonderful addition to the class. Typically we don’t begin tap until October because we want dancers to have a normal understanding of how the class works, as well as we want to make sure the class as a whole is listening before adding slippery tap shoes. Tap is excellent for memory, as well as overall coordination and rhythm.
Preschool Dance Attire: Girls-white ballet shoes, black tap shoes, and any type of dancewear. Boys-black ballet shoes or bare feet, black tap shoes, and any type of athletic wear. Please bring dance bag to class. Label all shoes with name.