Today I want to share with you what it was like teaching dance virtually to kids 3 to 6 years-old during quarantine as a result of Covid-19. I’m a dance and yoga teacher at an educational program called Kinderdance, which strives to build young children's self-confidence and self-esteem through dance and various forms of exercise.
Due to the pandemic we were forced to social distance and our face-to-face classes, including a summer camp, changed to online. That brought challenges and limitations to our services such as unstable internet connection and low student enrollment. In terms of the dynamic and content of the class, we were unable to pattern the students, which is important in order for them to confidently execute movements by learning the right way to do them safely within their abilities. Acrobatics, which helps with muscle strength, control, and coordination, among other benefits, was another part of the class that was limited for safety reasons since we, the teachers, weren't physically present to assist the students.
Another limitation was the use of props or materials. In class, we provide these to help us teach and do the movements. They also help to develop body awareness and imagination, as well as sensory and social skills. Since we weren't able to provide them, we used our creativity and encouraged the students to look for things around their house to use as props. Such things included plates, napkins, cups, paper, markers, toilet paper tube, stuffed animals, etc.
In spite of the limitations, one of the things I absolutely enjoyed was having their parents present and involved during the classes. They always helped their child whenever they needed assistance with a movement or to find a prop. Some even danced and participated in the activities with them, which was so fun to watch!
Another positive outcome was that I thought my students would be more distracted considering they were in their home with their toys. Interestingly enough, I noticed that my 4-5 year-old students were more focused and engaged during the class. Perhaps even enjoying themselves more. I wondered if it was due to the fact that this was the only social encounter and physical activity they had during the week and that made them eager for the class.
In addition, it was interesting to see how different they behaved in their home and how quiet and timid they were at the beginning of our transition to online classes. As time passed, some became more comfortable and got back to their chatty selves. I was happy for that because I saw a change in their personalities that wasn't what I was used to and it felt strange.
Overall, teaching dance virtually was something new to us and we realized that it had positive and some challenging moments. It was an experience that pushed us to adjust our teaching strategy and put our creativity to work by looking for ways to keep the students engaged.
Our goal was to provide a time for them to have social encounters, physical activities and exercises, grow confidence in the movements they already knew, learn new ones, explore their creativity, and have fun along the process. I can proudly say that we, Kinderdance San Juan accomplished that. :D
On the other hand, this experience gave parents the opportunity to enter our world of Kinderdance and bond with their kids in different and entertaining ways. Though in an unusual way, they also got to see how dance benefits their children's physical, mental, emotional, and social development.
Although this was such an incredible experience and we had so much fun together, nothing can substitute the traditional way we do things. For that, we're hopeful to return to the classroom and groove to our heart’s contempt, as even these baby dancers in training are dancing to the rhythm of life while finding their beat (and let me tell you, they're finding theirs alright, lol).
A warm virtual hug from,
Ms. Bianca Paola