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How to get your little one grooving

Not every little groover starts to dance all on their own.

If you want to encourage your toddler to get moving then think about their personality. Are they confident and outgoing? Do they have a passion for rhythm and movement? If so, dance classes might be a great fit for your child.

If not, you might want to start dancing at home before you leap straight into dance classes.

When to start kids dancing

Dancing with your baby in the home can start as soon as you like. Some children start wriggling to music in their cribs – maybe even in their mum’s belly. It’s never too soon to put on a song and show your little one the joy of dance.

Toddler dance studios often start enrolling children as early as 2 or 3 years old. Classes for younger kids are based around music appreciation and imagination.

Dance games to try at home

Music Mash Up

If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a bit of a DJ, this one could be right up your alley.

Make (or find) a playlist and change music tracks randomly. With each change call out a different movement or emotion. Get creative! When your child is familiar with the movements, why not combine actions with feelings? Try happy stamps, loving hops, or scary skipping.

Animals

Once children know that a dog says “woof” and a snake hisses and slithers, they are ready for this dance game.

Play some fun music with varying tempos, and call out animal names. Encourage your little groover to adopt the movements and poses of each creature. If they don’t know – show them! Accompanying animal noises are to be encouraged.

Giants and Pixies

This dancing game is a great way to teach your little one about volume.

Find music with two different tempos and tinker with the volumes to explore fast and slow, loud and quiet. Show your child about big shapes, giant actions, tiny movements, and quiet tip toes.

Speak Up

This is an excellent way to encourage creativity and communication.

Music with lyrics is great for this game. As songs play, call out words, ideas and feelings and show your child how to express them through dance. Try to act out crying for sadness, climbing a ladder to explore, driving a car and waving to friends – anything goes!

kids playing with bubbles

kids dancing with bubbles

The best type of dance for your child

It may be a while before your child finds their favourite dancer or a style of dance they want to try. Inspiration can come from TV shows with singing and dancing, music you play around the house, or even siblings or friends.

Here’s a look at some of the most popular dance styles out there, and what they can offer for toddlers.

Creative dance

With an emphasis on fun and expression, this form of dance is a great place to start with little toddlers. Children are lead through a series of imagination exercises that delight and engage them. This is a great introduction to music and movement.

Jazz ballet

Just like the musical style, jazz ballet is a modern take on a formal dance style and improvisation is welcomed. In jazz ballet for toddlers, kids are generally given bright music and basic movements to follow. They are then asked to “feel and fill out” impromptu variations based on the feelings of the performer and the audience’s response to the music.

Classical ballet

You might think ballet in its purest form is too complex for little ones to navigate, but classical ballet for toddlers is about flexibility and control. Here, classes are more structured, movements are more measured, and the style of music is very relaxed.

Tap dance

If your toddler loves to tap, you’ll soon hear all about it. Tap dance uses the sound of metal ‘taps’ on the soles of shoes as percussion. Teaching a child to tap dance is a beautiful way to foster their love of rhythm as they essentially make music with their feet.

Cultural dance

This covers a range of ethnic and folk dances from different regions. If your family have a heritage with a cultural dance, you may like your child to learn it. Or, even if you have no genetic connection at all. Common types of cultural dance include those from Scotland and Ireland, Greece, or even Australian folk dances like Strip the Willow!

dancing movements for kids

Preparing for kids dance classes

Dance is a fun activity for toddlers that exercises both the body and mind. In addition to boosting their fitness levels, taking your children to dance classes can also help with posture, flexibility, creativity and even cultural understanding.

Here are some tips for making created a positive association with dance for your child, and making sure everything flows as smoothly as possible when you arrive.

  1. Set expectations early – warm your toddler up to the idea of dance class. Talk about it – when are you going? Who will be there? What will happen?
  2. Introduce your child to their teacher – if you can visit the dance studio ahead of time for a quick visit, do so. Meet the teacher and show your child where they will be dancing.
  3. Don’t force it – if your child takes to dance right away that’s great. If they have reservations that aren’t shifted by gentle encouragement, then don’t push the issue. You may create fear. You can always try again another time.
  4. Have a bathroom break before class – make sure your child is hydrated and has gone to the bathroom before class. It’s good for them to have an uninterrupted dance class, without breaks to use an unfamiliar bathroom.
  5. Debrief afterwards – talk about their dance classes. What were the best parts? What were the less good parts? What are they going to try next week?

kids and communication