How Do You Teach a Preschooler to Dance?

My career as a Mom in a Waiting Room began about 28 years ago when our oldest daughter, Kate, took her first dance class.  Little did I know that my waiting room residence would continue for more than a decade and that I would eventually be upgraded to a front and center seat at Radio City Music Hall where our youngest daughter Jessica would be cast as a Rockette.  

As you can imagine, I have seen my share of dance classes where I’ve met my share of dance teachers and through the years I have learned a lot about dance and the building blocks that comprise a well executed dance skill.  There was a definite learning curve for me because, unlike my daughter, I am not a dancer - I am a teacher with a specialization in Early Childhood Education, so I have an understanding of the unique ways that a preschooler learns. 

Over the weeks and months and years I observed little dancers of all shapes and sizes through glass doors and windows.  I delighted in their giggles and squeals as they twirled about the dance floor trying to make sense of tendus, plies, and first position.  For a little one still figuring out right from left, it was clear to me that some of the skills being asked of them were simply not possible at that stage of their cognitive, physical and emotional development.  Their teachers were loving, kind and enthusiastic with a passion for dance and an understanding of the methodology of teaching dance.  As an educator it seemed to me that what was missing most often in these preschool level classes was the understanding of the unique ways in which a young child learns.  

So how do you teach a preschooler to dance?  You blend a mastery of pedagogy with the expertise of child developmental psychology to produce a perfectly balanced and age appropriate curriculum.  About ten years ago I set out to find such a program to best teach our young BYPC dancers.  

Much to my surprise such a program did not seem to exist.  Music educators had developed programs such as Musikgarten and Kindermusik that were founded in developmental psychology but there was nothing for dance.  It started to seem that the best answer was to write our own curriculum until one day I saw a promotional ad for a preschool dance pedagogy workshop being held at the Alvin Alley School of Dance.  I didn’t have to think twice.  I booked my trip and was thrilled to find a perfectly packaged dance program all wrapped up with a shiny bow - The Leap N Learn Dance Curriculum.  


Over the course of that weekend I would learn that the Leap ’n Learn Dance Curriculum is written by Ballet Master Beverly Spell and Child Psychologist Dr. Annie Spell.  The classes are broken up into a series specific for each age group beginning with children three years old, then four, five and so forth through the age of twelve.  Each yearly curriculum is comprehensively designed with hundreds of pages of lesson plans carefully crafted for the young dancer at their specific stage of development physically, emotionally and cognitively.  

Leap ’n Learn IS how you teach a preschooler to dance and BYPC is proud to be a leader in teaching the curriculum that is now employed in dance programs around the world.