It’s normal for a preschooler to get the urge to shake and wiggle when she hears a song that she likes. The website KidsHealth recommends that young children get at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity per day, and learning ballet can help your little one get the exercise she needs. As your child moves to the music, she’ll fine tune her motor and listening skills, strengthen her balance and coordination and develop an appreciation for music.
Hops and Jumps
Hops and leaps are common in ballet, and your preschooler will have fun trying to master the basics. To practice vertical jumps, or sautés (pronounced “saw-tays”), have your little one pretend that he’s a kangaroo. Hop along with him to show him how to get both feet off the floor. To practice leaping, or jetés (pronounced “jeh-tays”), play “hot lava.” Use masking tape to create “safe” squares on the floor and have your child leap from square to square as he avoids touching the “hot lava.”
In ballet, there are five arm positions, plus the starting “preparatory” position. To do the preparatory position, have your preschooler make the shape of the letter O with her arms. Her hands should be by her legs. When the arms are in first position, your little one will look like she’s holding a big ball in front of her or hugging a big teddy bear. While in second position, your child will hold her arms out to the side, like she’s forming the letter T. When she moves into third position, you child will keep one arm extended to the side, but raise the other so her hand is above her head – as if she’s holding an umbrella. Fourth position is similar, but the arm that was extended to the side curves in front of her, like in first position. To master the fourth position, your little one can pretend that she’s holding an umbrella in one hand and wrapping her arm around a big balloon. In fifth position, your child will make the letter O with her arms again. This time, she’ll form the O above her head, not around her belly.
There are six basic positions for the feet in ballet. In first position, your child has his heels together and toes turned outward, like he’s making the letter V. At first, some basic positions may be difficult to hold for more than a couple seconds, so your little one may need to hold onto a chair. In second position, the position of the feet stays the same, but your child steps out to the side with one foot. To do the third position, have your child place one foot in front of the other with the toes pointing outward. The heel of front foot should be next the midpoint of the back foot, by the arch. Have your child take a step forward with his front foot to move into fourth position. Fifth position is similar to third position, but the toe of front foot aligns with the heel of the back foot. In the sixth position, your little one’s feet face forward.
Plié and Relevé
The plié (pronounced “plee-ay) is a simple bend at the knees while your child’s feet are in first position. Use a chair if your little one is a bit wobbly as she bends. A relevé (pronounced “reh-leh-vay”) is step where your child stands on her tippy-toes. In addition to strengthening her calf muscles and improving her balance, your child will be more adept at reaching those special items of interest as she practices these moves.