For the younger dancer, practicing is all about making it fun! Some skills to work on include; motor skills, balance, foot positions and learning left from right. Play a game of Simon Says i.e. Simon Says hop on your right foot to the fridge, when you get there, jump in first position with your left hand on your head. It’s all about repetition for your “little feet” dancer.
As a dancer grows, the quality of the “practice” becomes more significant. Encourage your dancer to work on set exercises learnt in class, as well as strengthening and flexibility exercises. Working on ones “dance” means knowing the choreography and counts. Helpful for all dancers is to listen to the music and visualize the dance before going to sleep.
The most important way to help your dancer practice, at any age, is to ensure they attend class and are on time. If a class is missed where a lot of choreography has been taught, your dancer will be at a disadvantage. In a rush to catch up, your child may miss out on learning the fundamentals of how a particular step is executed.
So, what should you do if ill or absent? Inform your teacher as soon as possible. Watch the class if injured or well enough to attend school – please stay home if contagious – a student’s presence is helpful for spacing. If absent, have a friend video the dance to help with home practice.
Remember, practice means different things at different ages and levels. Suggesting practice, without forcing it (which can lead to a stressful situation) is the key. There is no greater joy than watching your dancer choose to practice on their own. That’s when they best realize the benefits of home practice.