Raising Positive Dancers

We were recently reading an article by Rhonda Talbot who tackles some tough parenting questions. As educators, our main goal is to foster progress within a strong individual. The foundation of that goal is to help establish a strong individual.

How do we, as teachers, make that happen?

1. Be aware of how we phrase our cheer-leading. Talbot said it well: "Children who are recognized for their effort rather than their ability are much  more likely to persevere because they equate achievement with hard work." Instead of saying: "What a beautiful pirouette!" We should acknowledge all of the effort the child applied to execute a beautiful pirouette. "You executed that pirouette beautifully." And then point out their effort: "Your hips were square, your arms were strong, your spot was sharp."

2. Help them see life as the continuum of experience.  Many times in our life we feel stuck in a moment or circumstance. We feel only the pain or joy of the here and now. But life is far more lateral than that. Continuum: Anything that goes through a gradual transition from one condition, to a different condition, without any abrupt changes. It takes time to achieve that beautiful Grand Jeté. It takes time for their muscles to grow and then, even when they've reached their physical maturity, it doesn't mean they are emotionally or mentally mature simultaneously, or to the same degree. Life takes time.

3. Reinforce their passions; help them keep their spark. Often in children, they'll find something they are interested in, and then they'll drop it. As an educator, take note of their curiosities and passions. Help them stay interested, stay curious and stay successful. You can do this by simply placing books down along their path. Bring to their attention any articles, movies or events that involve their passion. Keep their brains and hearts interested, while teaching them focused.

4. Expose them to new ideas, shapes, colors, sounds, backgrounds, images, words. Open up their world and help guide them through the large concepts and ideas.

5. Involve them. Answer their questions. Encourage their questions. Ask them how they feel, what they think, what they wonder. Ask them their personal experience. Ask for more details. Ask them to describe. Have them pretend, create, investigate.

Photo: Malay Dance School (by: David Rogers)

6. When they are dealing with an overwhelming moment or circumstance... make them face it. Don't let them run away or pretend it isn't happening. Ask them their opinion. Get them to communicate the issue. Have them use their words or their movement skills to express what is tripping them up inside. Have them say how they feel and help them figure out why they feel what they feel. Have them listen to their feelings and not react to external pressures. It is important that they learn to be aware of themselves and their feelings, and not bounce from one external factor to another. Help them find solid ground, and help them learn to stand firm on it.

7. Serve as a role model for them. Toss the "Do as I say, not as I do" mentality out of the window. Show them with your every action who you want (and expect) them to be. Say kind words. Think nice thoughts. Do good deeds. Reach out. Give second chances, when second chances are deserved. Forgive. Trust. Open your heart. Believe. Encourage. Love. Embrace. Show your students who you are via your heart and actions.


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Design & Development by Shane Jeffers