Trying new things, doing new dances

For the first time in my life, I taught preschoolers today: "folkdancing" classes! I am volunteering at Jamie's school, and he wanted me to volunteer in his classroom, not with the wobblers as I had been doing. So, I came up with the idea to teach dance once a week. I was REALLY nervous all day, and spent the entire day preparing for a half hour class!

I LOVED it! And they loved it! Wow! I jumped up and down on the blacktop of the playground for 30 minutes, and didn't even feel tired.

Not that I was really teaching specific folk dances, but I was teaching dance. We ran in circles, hopped, jumped, counted to four, kicked and shook our booties. We did parts of the Chicken Dance (all but the polka part, which turned into "dance like a chicken!"), the West African Ku Ku dance ("flying, swimming, drumming"), part of Mayim (Jewish folk dance from central Europe), part of La Bastringue from French Canada, some merengue, and open interpretive dance.

A few intrepid souls kept up with me for the half hour: four kids stayed for most of it, and perhaps ten others took part at some time. Jamie was REALLY good about sharing Mom, and joined in a bit before going to climb on the play structure. A few teachers took part; some took pictures; some just watched, but I think I can get them in there next time. At the end of the half hour, and few more hesitant kids were almost ready to join in, so I think they'll dance next week, too.

Here's what I learned today:

  • dancing in a circle with 3- and 4- and 5- year olds is like herding cats.
  • the kids with rhythm can't stay away from the dancing. Like me, when music starts, they start twitching in place, and move as if in trance towards the music.
  • Some kids are just fine with doing their own thing, on their own.
  • Some kids get up in your face and want you to watch and appreciate only them.
  • Some kids come up and say, "I don't want to dance, so I'm not."
  • I like that they can join in or not as they like. I wanted more attention and focus before I arrived, but just dancing in the middle of the playground works well.
  • I'm going to repeat the same dances for a while (the supervisor of education suggested a month) and let them get used to dancing and to me before we start anything new.

I LOVE DOING THIS! I can't wait for next Wednesday.