September brings a return to routine as academic school classes resume and dance and other extracurricular activities start up after a summer hiatus. Whether your students have had a summer off or a summer spent in dance intensives, it’s important to help them pace themselves as they return to regular training.
Here are some tips to keep in mind for those first few fall classes, to help all your students settle in to a healthy new year of dance.
1. Use your first class as a reconnaissance session. Determine who participated in a summer intensive and who took the summer off. Assess whether anyone has an injury or other issue you should be aware of.
2. Integrate conditioning exercises in your first few weeks of classes. Consider providing a list of exercises students should work on at home to help get them back into shape
3. Remind your students that they will not be at the same level of ability as they were in spring, when dance classes were still in full swing. Flexibility and endurance will have lapsed and if any growth spurts have occurred, your students may need to re-examine how they approach a specific movement.
4. Help your students reduce their own expectations, so they know not to aim for perfect extension or a full range of flexibility on the first day. Day one is just the start of the journey.
5. The beginning of a term is a good time to return to basics. Consider spending a bit more time on posture and alignment, keeping the movements and sequences relatively simple and straightforward.
6. Remind your students that recovery time is essential for the body. They may experience more cramps than normal at the start of term, while they re-acclimatize their muscles to dance movements. Encourage them to stay hydrated, as this helps battle many muscle fatigue complications.
7. Incorporate lots of time for cooling down. Post-activity stretching can easily be overlooked. It’s important to remind your students how valuable it is. Without adequate stretching after activity, muscles can seize up and injuries can occur.
8. Keep an eye on your go-getter students, the ones who want to try every exercise one more time and who push themselves hard with every opportunity. Encourage them to listen to their bodies and to be gentle with themselves. They have a whole year of dance classes to achieve growth and results; they don’t have to accomplish everything in that first day or week.