As teachers, it is our responsibility to provide a positive learning environment for our students. A positive learning environment includes feeling a sense of belonging and trust in others. It is also about feeling encouraged to tackle challenges, take risks, and a place without distractions. In dance especially, it also includes a clear, undisturbed space for the students to move, explore, and work on their skills.
During the pandemic, the learning space has moved to the students’ homes. It is important not to become complacent about the importance of the students learning environment as we cross 16 months of learning away from the studio. How can parents work together with the teachers to ensure that the learning environment in the home is as practical, constructive and productive as possible for students of dance?
Remove the clutter
As much as possible, remove any furniture, plants and toys to allow free movement for the student. This can be difficult when space is limited, but a little bit goes a long way. Just moving chairs and a table to the side can allow the student to move without the fear of hitting or tripping over something.
Set up a screen and speaker
Using the largest possible screen and a good speaker for sound can help a student immensely. It is much easier to focus on the the teacher and the class when the visual and audio cues are clear. If it is possible to connect the device to a tv screen, do so, and turn the angle of the camera so that as much as possible of the student is seen. It can make a world of difference to the student.
Limit other distractions
It’s not always easy to stay out of the way of a dancing student, but limiting movement of other family members through their class space can help them to focus. Keeping pets and distractive siblings in another room for the duration of the class, especially with younger children, can also be helpful.
Keep a water bottle handy during the class, but leave other drinks and snacks for another time. If food is available in the dance space, younger (and at times older!) students may be tempted to take a mid-class break and have a bite! This is neither helpful for their dancing nor for their focus, and eating while dancing can be dangerous, too.
A perfect class setup may not be possible at home, and it can at times lead to frustration for both students, parents and teachers when siblings distract, the connection is low, or focus is lost to toys and pets. Stay positive and encouraging, and plan ahead so that the setup for the class is the best possible in your home.