Do you think that your 5 year old will be practicing 4 hours per day because you told them that they have to practice?
OF COURSE NOT. So we need to try different ways to motivate them.
So what are the best ways to convince your children to get up and work on their dance steps? Here are 8 ideas for dance mums and dads.
1. Keep the practices short 10-15 minutes once or twice per day.
This will keep them focused and happy. I’m sure you wouldn’t necessarily feel like practicing for 1-2 hours in the evening after a long day at work either. Use a stopwatch and when it’s time to end, don’t push your child to practice longer (unless they want it). Also, it’s more likely that you as a parent will stay focused on practice when it’s only 10-15 minutes long.
2. What to practice?
Children need a clear structure for each practice.
Ask your teacher what dances your child knows and schedule them accordingly. So when it’s practice time, you know whether to do cha cha cha, slow waltz or tango.
When you sit in front of your child, ask them to practice one of them first without music, then with music.
3. Choose the best times
Your children need to develop a routine. We all like routines and schedules so we know how to prepare for it and what to expect. If you choose a single practice per day, then try 10 minutes before school. Yes, it may be hectic in the mornings, but it works great for many students as they have more energy (also most competitions happen early in the mornings so good to mimic that feeling).
4. Choose days of practices
We would love our children to practice every single day, but it may not be possible. However, if you keep practices short and fun, they may well want it everyday.
Try choosing 3-4 days in the week to start e.g. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Mark them in a calendar and keep it in your child’s room so they can see it too.
Remember- DO NOT bargain with practice times. They may say- I will practice double tomorrow, but in reality it’s unlikely to happen.
5. Choose the right rewards/treats
Oh yes they do work wonders! But what treats should you use? Anything that your child likes the most e.g.
There is one thing that every dancing child loves- SPARKLES! Get a point system and for every practice give them points. Once they reach a certain point score, they will earn, for example, 10 small crystals. They can glue them on their dancing top, bracelet or a school backpack. When other children see it, your child will be beaming with pride that they have all these sparkles.
The younger the child, the more important it is to have short goals they can achieve fast and see results.
6. Staying inspired by watching
We live in the era of iPhones and computers so let’s use them to our little dancer’s advantage. Once per week sit down with your child and watch on YouTube dance competitions of children their age. This will help to motivate them- whether by fancy choreographies, dresses or make up.
7. Speaking of make-up
Every dancing girl loves make up so let them use it.
Once per week have a practice that will imitate a competition. Put dancing music on at home, and let your child use your lipstick just for the duration of practice.
This is so much fun for them because they will feel like older dancers. They will always look forward to that one practice session.
Dancing shoes should always be in sight so whenever your child wants to put them on, they can. Practicing in dance shoes will give them a feel they are dancing properly rather than just jumping around in socks. Also, your child will be reminded of the need to practice every time they look at their shoes.
I hope these ideas will help you create your own home practices. It will take some time to find what works best for your child. If you stay creative and patient, you will start noticing big changes in your child’s dancing faster than you think.
Just remember that children learn at different pace so make sure that you celebrate with them every little thing they achieve even though they may be just baby steps.
Be encouraging, not pushy.
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