Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Let's Discuss...Crying

In hopes to get a few more comments on my blog, I am introducing a new post called "Let's Discuss." Each week I will ask a question in hopes of getting some opinions and ideas to share with each other. 

Today's Discussion: Crying

I have this one little girl in my class at Mark Morris that will cry through the entire class. The first class she didn't even come in.  She waited outside of the door with her babysitter and watched through the window.  The second class, I had the chance to speak with her before class and gave her the line-up of the activities we would be doing that day.  She seemed very happy to hear we would be traveling under the sea and dancing with multi-colored fabric. She eagerly came in and did SOME of the class- but cried through maybe half or a little less than half. I encouraged her to push through it and made sure she could see her babysitter in the window. She still cried but I thought it would be beneficial for her to see the entire class so she could experience what it was like.  

I thought for sure this week she would be alright and participate in a little more of the class. No luck, she came in and didn't have her dance clothes and was just sobbing.  I had already started class, but the babysitter wanted to talk to me and see if it was alright with me if she sat in the corner in the back of the room. 1) I would never let one of the children's caregivers stay in the room because then I would have to let them all in (and we all know that would be a disaster) 2) It is against Mark Morris policy for the parents to watch until the parents day at the end of the semester. I told the little girl that her babysitter would stay outside and she could see her the whole time. The babysitter then took her out of the room (since I had a whole class of students that I had to attend to... we are talking 20 4 year olds). I could hear the littler girl crying for 45 minutes. 

Discussion: I don't know why (well maybe I do) but I feel that it should be my job to introduce the children to a positive and fun first experience to movement. Since I am the only teacher in the room, (+pianist, which she is no help) I feel torn on how to incorporate the "crier" into the class. I know if I had the time and just talked to her about the class and made her feel a bit more comfortable maybe she would be more willing to participate. But if she won't even step in the room without crying and without her babysitter, I am not sure what to do. 

Do any of you have any ideas on how I could incorporate this girl into the class without sucking up the entire time and letting the other students suffer? I want to hear about any of your experiences with students crying, or being afraid of the dance class.  Please share your ideas and thoughts... I need some help by next monday! I look forward to reading your suggestions, I will try them out next week and report back. 

In the meantime movecreateeducate...


  1. Not a Dance Teacher but I have taught swim lessons since I was 12 and I have had a bunch of criers I think water scares a lot of children. With that being said. I always try to ask the parents to bring the child a little earlier so they can get some one on one time. I may bring the child a special gift, like a noodle or something to make them feel special and calm down. I have to say usually talking to the child and letting them know what they are in for usually helps. Are there some under laying reasons for the child being unhappy?
    Hopes this helps

  2. Well I always think of it like going backwards from the objective....to get her to not cry? and then participate? I guess starting with crying maybe ask her to bring a favorite toy that she can at first be with then ween her off so that the toy is sitting and watching or maybe she only needs 15 mins then 5 etc.
    The other thing is set up a reward system were she gets something she likes (favorite sticker?) if she can last 5 mins? or even just getting to dance with her dance close on? then from there the first activity she will be rewarded?
    Also a buddy in the class would help but I also think if she can see the sitter she will think of "help me". So maybe try not having the sitter watch?
    I think of some more. Sounds like she needs extra supports. How old?

  3. She is 4 years old... Not seeing the babysitter makes her cry harder. Kim- I like the idea of having her come a little bit earlier, I will tell the babysitter to see if she can get her there early. Liz- I think the sticker idea is a great idea, but since there are so many kids, I feel that it might get tricky time wise, and the classes run back to back. I also never thought about the toy/special thing to bring in. Have you done this? Do the other kids say anything about it or touch it?

    I think she might just be anxious or overwhelmed... I just feel so bad and really want her to participate. Maybe I will also see if she has a friend that will want to take it with her.

    Thanks for your comments ladies. They are much appreciated!