Lockdown might be easing, but we still have a fair way to go before normality as we knew it returns.
And of course, let's not forget that we're also heading quickly towards the school holidays. So we know you'll be looking for new ideas to fill the time and extra inspiration for activities that you can do at home that don't involve raiding the, probably now pretty depleted, craft drawer!
It might be a little left-field, but here at Kidadl we highly recommend trying ballet. From increasing concentration and learning discipline to fostering creativity and supporting mindfulness (not to mention the obvious physical benefits), encouraging your children to learn ballet at home is a great way to help them develop new skills, and stay active and healthy. Read on for our top tips on how to get inspired and introduce ballet into your everyday life.
If there's one thing many of us have learned from our childhood dance classes, it's that ballet is not all about grace and beauty - it can be quite a rigorous workout. So, it's important to warm up and work on that flexibility before you and the children start attempting the splits! The Cosmic Kids Yoga YouTube channel is a brilliant place to start. They don't offer dance classes, but their simple and bright yoga sessions can really help children with the idea of following instructions and getting familiar with moving and stretching different parts of their body. Aimed at children aged 3-9, these videos can help get children in the right mindset to commit to daily physical activity at home, and start to open up a new world of possibilities.
For older children, websites like Yoga With Adriene offer simple, non-patronising videos such as 'Yoga for teens,' which will not only help to warm them up for ballet but will also really support mindfulness and positive mental health during lockdown and beyond.
Get To Grips With The Basics
Your children might recognise a tutu, but if they're completely new to ballet, they probably won't have much of an idea about the moves. So it's a good idea to start with the fundamentals. There are some great tutorials on YouTube to help children start dancing, learn routines, and some of the vocabulary too.
If you have younger children and fancy quite a traditional dance class, the Tips on Ballet Technique YouTube channel is a brilliant introduction to the basics for 4-7-year-olds. Or, if your children prefer something more visual, Daniella Ballerina's YouTube channel offers a bright fairytale world, featuring fun cartoons and storylines like 'Forest Friends' or 'Easter Party' to help keep them engaged. And the award-winning Tiny Toes ballet programme, suitable from birth to 7 years, also have their own YouTube channel. The UK's first ballet programme to be fully integrated with the EFS curriculum, this a great option if you find your child taking naturally to the dance, as they also offer real-life classes across the country for when a lockdown is completely over.
If you have older children or fancy having a go yourself, The Ballet Coach aka Sarah De-Feu is offering ballet classes streamed on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook Live. An English National Ballet School trained dancer, she is leading 14 weekly classes to suit absolutely everyone: from Little Ones (3-5) and Primary (5-7), to Mid-Level (7-12) and Intermediate (13+), and not forgetting Grandmas and Grandpas!
Pinterest is also a useful resource. You can find printable posters that illustrate the key ballet positions, that you can stick up on the fridge or keep around the house, and lots of hints and tips to help you become an impromptu at-home ballet teacher!
Pretend You're A Pro
The English National Ballet are offering a wonderful array of free resources through their online "At Home" programme. Whilst a number of their online classes are aimed at those with existing ballet experience, they do have beginner dance classes that are suitable for all. You could even have a go at the warm-ups for their professional ballet classes if you're feeling brave! You can find more information about the different classes on offer for children from the English National Ballet here.
The Royal Academy of Dance are another amazing institution who are coming to the rescue of frazzled lockdown parents, by developing free "RAD at Home" online classes. Professional dancer Camille delivers five cardio, core or chair-based fitness exercises for you to do at home each day through RAD's 'Five A Day' video series and, if you're still not worn out, Camille is also holding strength, stretch and toning sessions, as well as ballet classes, via Instagram and Zoom that are suitable for all ages and abilities.
Put On A Show
We all know that the best way for children to learn is by example. If you really want them to get stuck in and show an interest in ballet and the arts, you could get involved too! And what better way to do it than to stage your own family ballet performance. As part of their "At Home" classes, The English National Ballet have developed an online Swan Lake ballet workshop, especially for families. Dance along to sections of the classic theatre production, or improvise and create your own versions. What a great way to bring everyone together to have fun, get fit and discover a love of ballet!
But, if you don't feel like transforming into a professional dancer and pirouetting around the living room, why not take advantage of the many productions that are currently streaming online for free? International ballet troupes from around the world are showcasing their productions and The Royal Opera House is a great place to start looking. They're streaming a programme of online shows including The Royal Ballet's 2010 production of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, and contemporary piece The Metamorphosis. The children might not be dancing themselves (although there's nothing stopping them from joining in!), but nothing sparks passion and a love of learning like watching the masters at work.
Jo is a work-from-home mum to two boys. They can often be found mooching around their local castle, museum or gallery. She has a degree in Film and English and a personal interest in mental health and well being, as well as food and drink, photography, history, and art, and likes to write about all of these interests on her blog. She is also passionate about passing on her love for knowledge to her sons through learning and having adventure. And, as a Nottingham native, there are no better woods to stomp about in than Sherwood forest, following in the footsteps of Robin Hood!