to think this is not normal for 5 year olds?

(48 Posts)
WaferMoon Thu 19-Sep-13 11:17:04

I teach dancing classes - mostly older kids and adults - but recently started teaching a group of 5-6 year olds. There are 6 of them in the class, all girls. So not a large group.

These kids are all in school so presumably are used to waiting, listening etc. However, I can't seem to "control" them at all. The first lesson was absolute chaos - kids running everywhere and not listening to me. I realise they were probably excited as it was the first lesson. The second week started off the same, so I realised we needed more structure than I thought. I used every trick I had up my sleeve - reward stickers, sitting on their own "spots" until I called them for their turn, everything I could think of. Marginally better but still mostly behaviour management and little actual dancing. Several of the girls said "no" to whatever I asked them to do. I am very jolly and usually good at getting them to try. By week 4 things were no better so I got a bit stricter - telling them firmly to come back to the line when they wandered off, reminding that stickers were only for the girls who listened. I had 2 kids in tears telling me they wanted Mummy.

I don't have as much experience with this age group as with older girls, but I've had 3 5 year olds myself and don't remember them being this difficult! Am I expecting too much or do I have a particularly difficult bunch of dancers?!

WaferMoon Sat 21-Sep-13 14:05:55

ICant thank you, that's all really helpful. This is a big learning curve for me and although I do lots of praising and encouraging it's great to have more specific strategies. I've been asking them to tell me their favourite move at the end of the class before they get to do their own dancing, in the hope that they will do that move to the music.

I will attempt to have them all involved the whole time and see how it goes. The good thing is they all really want that sticker!

WaferMoon Sat 21-Sep-13 14:07:31

Star of the Week is a great idea. Not sure I can get another adult but I could definitely find one of my teenage dancers to help.

junkfoodaddict Sat 21-Sep-13 14:59:57

Tell their parents that unfortunately you think they may be wasting their money on dance classes because their little brat little girl(s) won't actually participate in the lesson or follow instructions and reccommend that maybe when they are a bit more mature to try again.
If their parents knew (certainly if it was mine!) there would be consequences and they would do as they are told next time. Or it could be that maybe parents are more interested in dance classes for them than the girls themselves? I say this because my 20 month old goes to a parent and toddler music and movement class at a local dance school (we do it because I work full time and wanted something that me and him can join in with) and some mums are obviously pushy and are thrusting their dreams and wishes on their toddlers. We have 18 months old come to a half hour class dressed as full blown balerinas for classes when we are pretending to be all sorts! Much to their own but these parents are anti-social (don't speak to anyone) and go absolutely bonkers at their 18-24 month olds if they don't follow instructions despite the instructor telling them that at that age it's perfectly normal for them to run about, join in and then 'leave'. My 20 month old decided to attach himself to my leg until the last 5 minutes. Anyhow, i am digressing.
The girls' behaviour is not normal and I am certain they wouldn't behave like that at school. Install discipline and tell parents. That's what us 'school teachers' do.

BakeOLiteGirl Sat 21-Sep-13 15:07:47

My sister pulled my niece out of a ballet class for this age run by a highly respected ballet school because of this. For some reason the children in this one class were so badly behaved with the teacher that she couldn't control them. They were all naice children too.

maddy68 Sat 21-Sep-13 15:12:27

Before the lesson. Establish yourself. You need a way of getting quiet and calm instantly. What I use in school is the hand up in the hair. When I put my hand up every child has to stand/sit with their Arm also raised high be totally silent Practice a few times before you start

Anyone nit playing the game will be asked to leave x

RedHelenB Sat 21-Sep-13 15:31:32

When my dds were 2 & 3 they would have a trophy given each week, that they had to return the nest week, for being the "best at" lkistening/joining in' trying hard whatever. Now the 2/3 year olds do Melody Bear but when my dds went it was good toes/naughty toes, skipping with fairy steps etc.
My son & his football practise though - watching them at 6 year olds they're like little bear cuns scuffling with each other at times! The best sessions for him are where they aren't near oine another, have a ball each & something simple to do that can be praised easily. Remember as well, if they've had school all week, they'll want to let off pressure away from it!

Consistency is key, don't be afraid to change what you are doing if they are "off task" & lots of positive feedback when they do as they're told.

DuckToWater Sat 21-Sep-13 15:33:47

I imagine many of them will be letting off steam after being very structured at school. Perhaps some of them don't want to be there at all, or ballet and tap is too rigid for them? Might be better doing gymnastics, football, martial arts or Irish dancing? With any of those they are too out of breath to be disruptive.

Worriedkat Sat 21-Sep-13 16:39:14

Just to add, the stickers all have stars on. Star of the week gets a BIG silver star sticker and the others have smaller stars of different colours.

There are always two adults in the class, one leader and one assistant. The teenage dancer who would like some work experience for their cv is a fab idea!

lougle Sat 21-Sep-13 17:22:16

You're struggling to keep control of 6 girls who are 5 years old. How about splitting them into pairs. One 'challenging' child with one 'non-challenging' child in each pair (remaining pair two non-challenging children).

You can have one pair doing the move you're teaching.
Two pairs doing the moves you taught last week.

Then, once one pair have been taught the new move:

One pair doing the move you've just taught
One pair learning the move from you
One pair doing the move you taught last week.

Then, once two pairs have been taught the new move:
One pair being taught
Two pairs practicing the new move.

strawberrie Sat 21-Sep-13 17:30:27

My DD goes to a gymnastic class which has up to 16 kids, boys and girls, with 2 coaches. I have been astounded and how well the children listen and follow their instructions.

They collect the children at the door of the gym, and get them to enter the room as a train, so each child has their hands on the child in front's shoulders. Whenever they move round the equipment, they move in the same train formation, so minimal chances for any to wander off/misbehave.

When they are listening to the coaches, they sit in "aeroplane" formation, which is like they are doing Oops upside your head grin.

Would something. Similar help keep their attention?

ExcuseTypos Sat 21-Sep-13 17:36:13

I too think you need to establish a quiet, calm environment from the start.

When my DDs were that age, they had to line up by the door waiting for the dance teacher. When she opened it she said 'hello girls' and they responded. She then asked them to go in and quietly find a space in the hall, where they say waiting for her.

I'd then start the lesson with them copying you, altogether.
Praise the ones following you and ignore those who aren't. Unless they start being disruptive. As the lesson goes on, introduce less structured things.

I would introduce some kind of 'stop and look at me'. I've seen teachers using bells. When they are shaken everyone must stop and look at the teacher. That will get their attention and focus back on you.

Good luck!

gotthemoononastick Sat 21-Sep-13 17:40:39

Spare a thought for my 5 year old self, a long time ago,in dance boarding school,already doing barre work! Madame was greatly respected (and feared),but I simply HAD to dance ...like breathing..Maybe they do not really want to do it?

youarewinning Sat 21-Sep-13 18:18:11

I'd go for all dance together and ignore the ones misbehaving.

So "everybody stand on a spot, copy me we are going to warm up our muscles" Put on music, start warm up, praise the ones doing as you asked. Then move spots into a line/ circle, repeat and rinse.
At end of session give a sticker to those who did as you asked, no threat of no sticker or reminder they'll get one. Say nothing to those misbehaving, they'll soon work out how to get your attention - or leave. Either way it's win win grin

mumofweeboys Sat 21-Sep-13 20:48:04

What about going to some other dance classes that are held for that age group or offering to help, might let you get a feel how other people run their classes

Viviennemary Sat 21-Sep-13 20:57:24

I agree with helpers. There are six of them and only one of you. Also rewards and praise. I also think a very disciplined and straightforward set of exercises to begin with might be a good idea. And then more looser fun creative things towards the end of the lesson. Could you put chalk marks on the floor for them to stand at. Very spaced out!

unlucky83 Sat 21-Sep-13 21:11:47

I think you might have to toughen up a bit - and even though this makes me sound ancient - think that some parents let their children get away with too much...encourage them even ...and even though it is a voluntary activity if they are disruptive it spoils it for all the other children in the class...
I've just seen a 5 yo Rainbow refuse to join in with the activities - she said she had bought her own activity and her mum said she could do that if she didn't want to do what the group were doing shock!!!!
She was told to go and stand to one side - she stood there for a second - and then walked across the room to sit on a bench, the leader said no she was to stand where she had been put - the 5 yo then refused to stand up ...
Leader was (rightly) obviously cross and told her in no uncertain terms that she could either stand where she had been told to, join in or they would get her mum to come and collect her...child was really surprised that she had been spoken to like that ...
Child did stand to one side for a while and then gradually joined in ...
I thought she wouldn't be back the next week - but she was! (maybe the appeal of cheap childcare was too much for the mum!)

Skimty Sat 21-Sep-13 21:49:08

My daughter is 5 and in a ballet class. I believe that you should automatically get the respect of the children and this sounds very stressful for all of you. However, I know she finds improvisation incredibly difficult and the parts where you describe them dancing as they want she just can't do and any parts like that she sits out in her class. I suggest you don't let them improvise too much because if they feel uncomfortable this could mean they're messing around.

Jellybeanz1 Sat 21-Sep-13 21:57:03

My dds lessons at this age were fab. She ended up taking 3 different classes by the same ballet school, my ds even joined. They only had stickers at the end they went on a card so it also rewarded attendance. When I took over brownies I was shocked at the behaviour and introduced a toy owl they could take home each week (star of the week) You could have a ballet dancer/ Angelina? You have to teach them to listen before they can follow instructions. At this age my dc were doing clapping rhythms following the teacher they also loved one activity where they had to go to sleep on their backs then when the music changed had to be different toys coming to life. Reward good behaviour with attention. Keep starter and ending activities the same and structure short attainable goals. Invite parents of difficult children to observe and if its not for them ask to leave. Good luck.

Lagoonablue Sat 21-Sep-13 22:05:10

If they are all talking and not listening, I find standing on a box and saying 'look at me' a few times loudly helps. When they are all looking, start giving instructions. Fingers on lips helps too.

Good luck!

Snatchoo Sat 21-Sep-13 23:13:42

I am very very surprised.

I used to be one of those teenage dancer helpers and none of the children were ever like this! They were there because they wanted to be and it was a treat for them - occasionally Miss Julie could be a bit sharp if they were talking or whatever but in general, they were fab.

We did the fingers on lips things though when they started getting a bit too excited! I'd give that a go and then maybe talk to the parents? They are wasting their time and money if you are teaching children who don't want to be there and who are going to opt out of everything.

WaferMoon Sun 22-Sep-13 09:01:56

So many brilliant ideas - thanks everyone. Happy to hear people are surprised - I was too and glad it's not just me!

I will definitely introduce:

Fingers on lips to quieten down and listen.
Minimum free dancing - at the end they tell me their favourite move we've learnt that lesson so they can do that if they don't want to think of their own.
Even more praise for the ones who cooperate.

I agree that they are wound up after school and I expected some settling in to be needed but a few weeks in I thought we would be getting there by now. The class is not straight after school although one of the trickier ones always turns up with wet hair and smelling of chlorine so she is obviously doing a swimming class beforehand. It's a bit much in one day really, but not the child's fault.

mumofwildthings Sun 22-Sep-13 17:39:09

No offence, but I'm wondering if the class is a bit boring? My 5 year old loves her dancing lessons. Yes, she can be led into silliness by the class bad'un but she is usually compliant and engaged. They don't have the chance to muck about much because they are constantly moving. it is a dance class after all. I don't understand you want them to sit on their spots and take turns - can't then learn by doing? Waiting around and 5 year olds are not a happy combo. Definintely need to have a big burst of something energetic before changing the pace and getting them to calm down and listen/ watch a demo.

Oh and some 5 year old - like mine - have only done a week of school, so perhaps you are expecting too much?

mumofwildthings Sun 22-Sep-13 17:42:03

One other thing - have you told the parents that their children aren't behaving? I discovered that after a term of dancing my (then) 4 year old was the teacher's worst nightmare. I had no idea as she was normally great at home and at nursery. I was so cross that nobody had told me and I'd wasted a whole term's worth of fees on a child who was just being disruptive. I had words with my DD, made her apologise to the teacher and when she went back after Christmas she was a model pupil. A year on and she's the teacher's favourite. If the teacher hadn't told me I'd have had no idea, and I couldn't have helped to put it right

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