Rah, rah, rah! I am so excited to teach another session of Cheer Dance. I’m doing another season at a local elementary school. This is a just one more after school activity that engages young grade school children.
Cheer for elementary students differs greatly from high school or competitive cheer dance. The main goal is to build confidence, coordination, and get kids active in a fun, relatable way. Of course, pom poms, leaning stunts, and wearing the classic Cheerleader uniform is part of it (uniforms offered but not required for participation).
What can a young learner expect in a cheer class? I set my expectations from the start. I am not a babysitter, but I also want a happy introduction to cheer and dance in general. Regardless of dance or gymnastics background, we start with basics. A strong foundation is the success of any art form, sport, or hobby.
A typical class begins with “circling up.” This is a short moment of touching base and includes expectations and attendance. We can set a goal for our intentions. New material can be discussed for the goal of the day or the goal could just be an improvement of performance from last class.
Warm-ups, stretches, and isolation exercises follows circling up. In warm-ups, I may have students jog, do jumping jacks, an easy dance combo, or anything that gets the blood warmed up. It must be cardiovascular. In this manner, cheerleading differs from the typical dance class and is more anaerobic in nature, similar to gymnastics and martial arts class structures.
Throughout class, there are high and low intensive exercises. The low intensive exercises are what I call, “breathers.” The students are still engaged, but doing less difficult physical work. It’s important to keep the class balanced in easy to hard exercises, lest you lose interest or create frustration.
After a good cardio segment, a breather exercise like formations or stretches in jump position is utilized. Formations can include the positions for Cheer or space formations for dance routine blocking.
It’s true that students should be challenged, but not set up for failure. Encouraging mantras are established from the beginning. The class can drive these mantras themselves, but if they don’t, I always continue to build the framework for that type of mindset.
In cheer, they can use their “outdoor” voices – which is highly encouraged. Cheers for children are great for confidence building and learning how to project their voices. There are many cheers geared towards young people.
I always want to perform a dance routine that the kids work on throughout the session. Cheer dances are still choreographed to fun, modern music, but uses many of the cheer movements learned throughout class. Integrating poms or other props are fun and entertaining.
When we practice stunts, the children learn about teamwork from the roles of each person in the pyramid. The base supports the team, the spotter(s) keep the team safe, and the flyer demonstrates the stunt. In cheer dance for kids, most kids get a turn to practice the role of flyer.
It’s not just all work! There are many cheer games to keep it fun. Freeze dance is a favorite. I can switch it up by having kids freeze in a cheer position of choice. This adds a layer of challenge.
Thanks for reading and happy cheering!