An eight-week course of classes combining drama, dance, cookery, and more aims to keep the nation’s children learning through lockdown. Tiny Toes Ballet, a nationwide school for learning through dance, is offering the classes to help support parents and teachers who are homeschooling due to lockdown.
The Free Lockdown Programme, starting on Monday 18 January, provides online weekly activities aimed at children aged seven and under. These include dance, drama, cookery, and Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) activities, supported by downloadable educational resources for parents.
The school’s founder, Emma Morgan, says she is delighted to be able to help keep the nation’s children learning through lockdown.
“Every week, we’ll provide a learning through dance class, a learning through role-play and drama class, and a practical learning activity, including arts and crafts and cooking classes from cook stars,” she says.
“The resources will also come with a downloadable activity and a parental letter to explain the purpose of each weekly programme and which EYFS curriculum outcomes the activities will meet.”
Tiny Toes Ballet is the UK’s first pre-school ballet programme to be fully integrated with the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.
Emma founded the company in Swansea in 2011, drawing on her experience as a primary school and ballet teacher. It now has 14 franchises all over the UK, teaching children aged six months to seven years.
“Tiny Toes may be a dance class, but it’s not all about demi plies,” says Emma. “We understand that the first years of life are a vital period for early brain development.
“90% of a child’s brain development happens before the age of five. Movement is the gateway for all learning during the first five years of life because sensory, motor and social development precede language and logic skills.
“Children learn by playing and doing. Dance, in particular, integrates kinaesthetic learning with understanding. We’re passionate about the value of our unique programme and wanted to use it to help as many teachers, parents and children as possible during lockdown.
“We’ve centred the activities around themes that we know children love: Three Little Pigs, Under the Sea, Down on the Farm, and Superheroes, for example. The classes will run for eight weeks, and we’re encouraging as many people as possible to get involved.”
It’s not the first time Tiny Toes Ballet has offered free activities during lockdown: previous activities have included YouTube activity days and live interactive online adult Ballet Fit classes, craft time, online family dance parties, and EYFS weekly activities and videos.
The school also worked with Welsh-based ballet company, Ballet Cymru, to deliver a second wave of adult Ballet Fit classes, free online classes for patients at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff, Facebook live activities titled Dance on Your Doorstep, and VE Day Celebrations.
“It’s been a pleasure to play our part in keeping the nation occupied, entertained and active during this difficult time,” says Emma. “As long as the coronavirus pandemic continues, we’ll keep coming up with new activities to support children’s learning, so keep an eye on our website, tinytoesballet.co.uk, for more updates.”