By: Jessica Baudin-Griffin
Covid burn out is REAL!! For teachers, for caregivers, for children. Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that. I believe when we are able to name our experience, we can claim it, and when we can feel it, we can heal it.
For children, PLAY is going to be essential to their mental health and healing over the next year.
Experts believe that play is vital for a child’s emotional development; the emergence of their experience, expression and understanding. From processing ideas and feelings to developing empathy, emotional resilience and coping with anxiety, play is a natural way for children to develop the skills they need to understand the world they live in. Playing in nature can boost children’s mood and self-esteem and may even contribute to making them nicer people!
As early childhood educators, play is likely built into your pedagogical practice and curriculum. However, with Covid continuing to be a reality, online, physically distanced, and blended learning are likely to be a necessity for the next dance season. We need to consider how we are approaching play-based learning for our littlest dancers in this new normal.
This is why my third tip for a successful upcoming year of dance is to lean into hands on learning. Regardless of if you are moving into physically distanced, online or blended dance class delivery, focusing on engaging, sensory play-based learning will keep your students engaged and connected over the next year.
Strategy 3: Keep the Learning Hands On!
When chatting with other dancer educators and parents over the past few months, one big challenge identified with online learning was focus. Young children have a hard time staying engaged with a screen for long periods of time.
In many ways, this is a huge relief to me! I advocate for limited screen time in early childhood. Kids needs to be exploring the world through their SENSES!
With this in mind, I encourage you to consider how you can make your early childhood dance classes more hands on this fall. While online and physically distanced teaching does not allow us to be hands on with our students, they can still be hands on while learning.
Consider small, inexpensive props you can use in your early childhood classes to support engagement. Challenge yourself to think outside of the typical shakers and scarves we all love but, may be cost prohibited for some families.
Pipe cleaners are a playful, hands on way your preschoolers can learn aboutpathways!
Balloons are a great way to exploresize!
Play dough is a wonderful way to createshapes!
These simple, inexpensive items can be easily combined together into individual packages for each one of your dancers, for either at home or in class use.
Young children naturally move through a cycle of Sense-Act-Connect when they engage in the world. They sense change or novelty in their play environment, which causes an action-based response (movement or tactile engagement). This leads to the brain making a new connections! These new connections are learning! By keeping the children hands on you are meeting their biological need to explore the world and play through their senses.
I also love to use image-based flash cards in my preschool classes as another hands-on learning tool. This is why I have teamed up with Dance Ed Tips to create 3 NEW series of ready-to-print dance flashcards to add to your preschoolers’ prop package.
You will find these and many other resources for early childhood dance in our Back to School Early Childhood Kit available now!
Jessica Baudin-Griffin (B.Ed) is an award winning movement educator from Edmonton, Alberta. In 2006, Jessica founded J'Adore Dance, an award winning, recreational dance studio, where she created more than a dozen original dance programs, including the Intellidance® Method, a series of early childhood in creative dance and music programs for babies to children age 5.
The foundation of the Intellidance® Method is the combination of dance and music concepts, identifying specific vocabulary in dance and music, and developing the understanding of both through the connection between concepts. These connected concepts provide opportunities for children to explore, discover, practice, and create using multiple senses and intelligences. By addressing the possibilities and connections in dance and music, the Intellidance® Method provides an innovative approach to conceptual education and addresses the needs of learners and teachers in the 21 stcentury.
Jessica has had the pleasure of training a wide variety of professionals in the Intellidance® Method and is always excited to see the new ways her students are implementing the Intellidance® Method in their professional practices. The Intellidance® Method is currently used in over 30 countries worldwide!
Jessica has worked as K-6 Dance and Music specialist, sat on the committee that developed the K-12 local dance curriculum for Edmonton Public Schools, and is a sessional lecturer at the University of Alberta, teaching The Study of Dance for Young Children. Jessica’s life work is to advocate for dance for every child!