If there’s one thing that both teachers and parents despise, it’s the kids’ lack of attention. Teaching a toddler class is like “herding cats wearing tutus” as to how some put it. Some kids will have their own world, others are busy knocking things over, while there are a few who will sit and observe, if not cry. It looks like a whole mess until they started grooving to the music and learn new steps. It’s the point where parents shove each other politely on the tiny glass window just to take a few snaps of their child. On this picture is a parent or two who are giving the “stares” to the kid who’s not paying attention. If you’re that one parent, you probably wonder, how can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class?
Let me start this part by telling you that a short attention span is normal for toddlers. They are at a very inquisitive phase and bringing them to a whole new environment fuels their innate curiosity. It will take some time until they get used to it and listen to the instructor. You might even find it funny if your kid listens to the teacher more than he or she listens to you.
But in case your little one continues to have a world of his own, it’s time to unveil your tricks. The following tips I’ll give here may require patience, but as parents, it should be a given.
1. Cut the stressors
If your child didn’t sleep well the night prior to the dance class, expect a whole session of grumpiness and temper tantrums. Lack of sleep can easily irritate kids, and if they are subjected to following instructions in such condition, they will have poor concentration. You can buy the kid a few winks if the studio is at least half an hour drive from your house. However, waking the toddler up could be a make or break part too. But how can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class?
It’s important to remove any cause of stress that will sabotage the mood of the toddler. Steer clear from pranks or sermons before you head to the studio. If the kid has anxiety, you may want to have a heart-to-heart talk session before sending him or her to the class. Maybe, the kid just needs some assurance.
2. Check your child’s relationship with the teacher
Is there a new teacher in the class? Or is your child in good terms with the dance instructor? These factors directly impact the attention span of your child. You may want to check the teacher’s ability to deal with kids of different personalities. Some studios tend to assign inexperienced instructors to the youngest kids. Although this may happen, what you should check is the relationship that he or she has with your child.
The style of teaching might be the cause of why your child’s attention is wandering somewhere else. You don’t have control over this, but you may want to consider looking for another class, just in case.
If your kid is intimidated by the teacher, a little talk with the instructor should fix the problem. Some children take a longer time trusting other people aside from their parents. If they see that you are ‘trusting’ the teacher, they will also do the same. Let your child see that you’re smiling or talking with the teacher. How can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class? Start by building his trust with the instructor.
3. How about with other kids?
Many times, the teacher isn’t the problem. Your child is probably distracted due to the other kids in class. As you know, putting a bunch of toddlers in one room isn’t always quiet and fun. They may have petty fights and before you know it, the other kid punched your child in the face. This act of bullying and violence is a massive blow to your kid’s enthusiasm toward the dance class. He or she might loathe joining the session and if ever they do attend, they will be uninterested to follow. It’s either the bully kid or your child transfers to another class.
It’s excellent if your child has a good relationship with other kids. But you may not want them ending up playing together while the teacher instructs. Toddlers who are the chatty type could be a little difficult to suppress.
4. Your home rules might be contradicting those of the studio
How can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class? Toddlers absorb what they see in their environment. If you let them get away with their lack of attention at home, they would exhibit the same behavior at the studio. Don’t get me wrong, it’s normal for kids to have short attention, but make sure that your house rules aren’t contradicting those of the studio. Your level of expectation against the expectation of the studio from your child will not meet all the time. This can make your kid confused as to why certain guidelines vary.
If the kid keeps on talking while the teacher speaks, you might be letting him or her do the same when you’re on the phone or while talking to other people. You can still fix this by reminding the kid about waiting until you finish talking. This little difference on how you discipline the child will show on the dance floor.
5. Stop giving him the “stares”
Are you the parent who gives the “stares” if your child isn’t cooperating? While this works for some, giving your child a threatening look may aggravate the situation. He or she might end up crying and out of the mood for the dance class. Your child is too young to get your message, and if he or she is confused, he’ll resort to tantrums. And as far as I know, it’s not the best scenario in the studio. Giving the stares might be a low key reprimand, but it doesn’t serve many purposes.
So how can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class? If you can, get the child out of the room and talk to him. He may just a need a short break or some pep talk to regain his enthusiasm.
6. As much as you want to, don’t yell
There will come a time when you’ll run out of patience. However, this isn’t an excuse to yell at your child, especially in the presence of other people. Studies found that kids who are constantly embarrassed by their parents in front of other people will grow up shy and with low self-confidence. If you want to talk to your child over his lack of attention, kneel and meet him at eye level. This body language sends the message of sincerity and it cuts the trauma of scolding. Such a gesture will engage your kid in the conversation.
Don’t yell. Just don’t. It doesn’t serve your child well and it doesn’t make you look like a good parent either. Be as calm as you can and don’t force the kid to talk to you during a fit of crying.
7. Look for variety
Kids can get bored easily if they keep on doing the same routine over and over again. If they keep on performing plies for a week now, don’t be surprised if they will start to channel his attention into something more interesting. They may start fidgeting or examining the contents of the nearby trash can.
How can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class? When picking for a dance class, always opt for variety. Check the structure of the program and see how long should a certain routine be taught. This way, the kid will be exposed to something new while ensuring that they are hooked on the classes.
Pre-school kids do well when their activities have a wide variety. However, this doesn’t mean there’s no consistency or structure. The teacher should be able to teach new things every week without supercharging the memory of the toddlers.
8. Kids love things that move fast
It’s already a fact we have to deal with that toddlers have poor focus. If things are moving fast, they are more hooked to it. This doesn’t apply to all kids, I must say, but generally, it does. Enroll them in a dance that keeps up with their inclination. If they want something that’s fast and engaging, hip-hop or jazz might catch their attention longer than any other classes.
Imagine your kid lifting his legs slowly during a ballet class. It’s a careful thing, but it will only take a few minutes before she gets bored and uncooperative. How can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class? Be meticulous with the choice of class even before you enroll the child.
In case the child wants slow dances but can’t pay attention, you’ll have to utilize other means of improving his attention span.
9. Make it look like playtime
Remember, your child is too young for ‘serious’ ballet or any type of dance. Subjecting the kid to pressure and strict routines isn’t the best way to introduce him to dancing. As much as possible, you may want it to feel like playtime, but with a little bit of structure. Most of the time, dance studios will know how to do it. They will usually start by letting the kids dance around freely with colorful cloths.
Learning that looks like playing is possible with the right approach. Add some music to it and you have an effective formula. One thing you can do to make it feel like playing is introducing it to your child as a happy activity. With the other kids present, it’s not easy to trick them to it.
10. Engage their imagination
Kids may have short attention spans, but there’s one way to keep them listening. Engaging them with their creativity and imagination is like putting fuel on a fire. Toddlers who are in a dance class will be asked to imagine themselves as the moon, a princess, a prince, or something else that the fancy about. With this, they will be more hooked with the idea of dancing and expressing their selves. How can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class? It only takes a little creativity.
You don’t actually have control over it, so it’s crucial that you find the right teacher. If you’re tasked to guide your kid at home for practice, come up with any imaginative things that you can ask them about. Toddler years are the phase of fairytales, monsters, and imaginary friends. Somehow, you can bank on those fantasies, but be careful not be very repetitive.
11. Maybe they’re hungry
So everything looks well that day until your child decided to be grumpy in the studio. Perform some mental check: is the drive going to the studio took a bit long? When is the last time the kid ate? There’s a chance that your kid is hungry that’s why he’s not paying attention to the teacher or throwing a tantrum when asked to do so.
How can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class? You can pull him out of the class for a quick snack. Be careful not to give him a very heavy meal or the kid may puke in the middle of dancing. If you can spare some sweets without compromising their diet, it will be an easy solution.
12. The reward system is a gold standard
If you’ve tried everything and your child still has a bad case of his own world, the reward system is your last bet. Get his favorite snack and make a deal that if he listens to the teacher, he will get it after the class. As far as I know, this trick rarely fails. You can also promise to drive him to an ice cream parlor or buy her favorite dress. You might run out of offerings in the coming days, so make sure that you devise another plan.
The only risk about this system is that your kid may attend classes just for the sake of the reward they will get in the end.
So how can I help my toddler to listen in a dancing class? Now, you have 12 tricks up your sleeves!