It’s the summer holiday season, and you know what that means! It’s time to take a hiatus from your child’s dance and ballet classes. No more afterschool runs to the dance studio, no more ballet rehearsals and organizing dance costumes, no more waiting in the car for them to finish their dancing lessons – it’s time to take a well-deserved break!
But the thing is dancers of ALL levels need to maintain their fitness and flexibility because the fact is if they don’t they could lose many of the skills and strength they developed over the past dance season. Keeping up with dance is hard work! It requires a lot of commitment, focus, and dedication from both the dancer and their parents. But most importantly, it requires time – something that many families do not have enough of during the holidays.
But don’t fret! There are plenty of ways to keep your little dancer ready for when they return to class after the holidays! I have come up with a list of activities you can be doing together as a family over the holiday break that will help keep your child’s mind engaged while also keeping them physically active in ways they enjoy! Not only will these fun-filled activities allow your child to keep up on those important dance skills, but they’ll also build stronger bonds within your family unit too! …and let’s face it; what parent doesn’t want more quality time spent with their kids?
The thing to remember is you don’t have to choose to do everything on this list – it is the holidays remember! Aim to do just one thing or activity every day with your child. Create a routine, or a weekly schedule and write it up on the wall so you can see it or put it into the calendar so you don’t even have to think about it!
1. Play games with them like “Simon Says” or “What Comes Next?”
Simple games like Simon Says or What Comes Next will help your dancers listening skills and get their brain working which is important for dancers to be able to follow directions in dance class. Listening skills and mental agility are key for a dancer to have in order to be successful on the dance floor.
The choice of actions that you give your child in these games is also important if this is the one thing you are doing that day to help them maintain their dance skills. Try to make the actions a movement or skill that they would do in dance class. For example “Simon Says” jump in the air and point your toes.
What Comes Next? can be an action game where you as the leader do a movement and then ask your child what comes next. Your child then has to do your move and then add another one on to it and then asks you what comes next. You then do your first move, their move and add another one on. This continues until someone messes up which can bring on alot of laughs as you both try to remember all the actions and moves you created.
2. Online Movement and Fitness classes
Online movement and fitness classes are great for kids when the weather is not ideal and you are stuck indoors! There are many free resources online that are a lot of fun to follow along with and will help to maintain your child’s fitness and might engage them in being creative or teach them a style of dance they have never tried before. Some examples are:
Zumba classes for Kids will not only have your children learning choreography and being active but they’ll be having fun while doing it. There are many classes for adults too and so you could do one with your child and get fit with them!
Creative movement classes will engage your child’s imagination and help them explore their body in new ways that might not happen in formal dance classes.
Since the pandemic, there has been an explosion of fun fitness classes specially created for kids. Take a look at our online dance and exercise articles here – you are sure to find something that your kids and even yourself will enjoy!
3. Synchronized dance at your local beach or pool!
Doing a swimming camp or lessons over the holidays is a great way for your child to keep up their cardio fitness as well as strengthening and lengthening those core musles. But swimming lessons alone won’t keep a dancer in dance shape, but here are some fun activities that I used to do as a child for hours on end in the pool that will help maintain dance skills!
- Practice your balances! Yes I know this sounds like dance training, but in the pool, you can get your legs higher, you can stay in a pose for much longer and it feels amazing!
- Try to do the splits! This is so much fun because you are buoyant and trying to get down to the floor is a challenge. Alternatively, try this upside down.
- Do acrobatics! Do handstands, have handstand competitions, do forward rolls, backward rolls, handsprings, and more in the water!
- Use the edge of the pool like a barre and try to do exercises you would do in your ballet class. It is an amazing feeling when you do a develope or extension and you can get your leg so much higher because it is floating!
- Create a synchronized swimming routine. Put everything together and choreograph dance routines in the water – for a dancer this is really some of the most fun ever in the pool!
Fun fact: Did you know that swimming in coldwater especially makes your core contract, which strengthens the muscles around your spine and pelvis that are important for dance. It also helps improve blood flow to the brain!
4. Family Discos!
Make having a family disco a weekly tradition over your school holidays. Get on whatever music streaming service you have and search for your favorite songs to dance to, crank the volume up and get dancing. You don’t have to have special lights or make it a big deal – just put the music on and dance together.
To make this your one thing for the day to help your dancer maintain their dance skills try to put a few tracks in the mix that your dancer may have danced or performed to with their dance studio. It can be so much fun to go through the dance casually at home or to perform the choreography for the family! Even if you don’t have their music, encourage your child after they are warm to show you the moves they have been learning in dance or ballet class, how far they can do the splits or a backbend, or anything else they might be working on – usually they will be more then willing to do this, or will naturally try to show off all their tricks anyway!
5. Dance like no one is watching
Set up a Bluetooth speaker system or go old school and put a stereo into your child’s room so they can put on music and dance up a storm with no one watching!
Dancing to music in their room is a great way for your dancer to both practice and enjoy the activity that they love without having to feel self-conscious or worrying about what other people like their dance teacher thinks. It can make practicing dancing more relaxing which is exactly what you want over a break.
It can also help your child to improve their technique without the pressure to be perfect at all times. No one is judging how well they are doing when practicing alone, so it is easier to just focus on what needs improvement in their own way.
6. Walk, Run, Bike, Hike
Working on flexibility and strength are both important for dancers, but so is keeping up aerobic or cardiovascular fitness. Sometimes when we think of holidays we think of lazing in the sun by the pool, or reading all day by a warm fire. Doing some of this is fine, but it’s also important to keep the body moving so it doesn’t get stiff and sore.
Another reason to move is for cardiovascular fitness is the fitness level of the heart and lungs which can be gauged by a person’s maximal oxygen consumption. The benefits of cardiovascular fitness are many: increased life expectancy, prevention or delay of diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease and hypertension, improved mental health in old age etc.
We keep up our cardiovascular fitness doing activities like:
– Walking, running and hiking. These are great for fitness because you’re getting both the strength benefits of using your muscles to push yourself forward and up hills, as well as a cardio workout that will keep the heart healthy and fit.
– Cycling or bike riding is also good for fitness because it gets your heart rate up and is a great way to explore new places.
– Swimming, as well as other aerobic activities like yoga or Pilates will work the cardiovascular system in their own ways.
7. Implement weekly Yoga classes during your holidays.
Yoga is a great nondance activity for dancers to try or participate in when on a break or holiday from their formal dance and ballet training. It is beneficial for dancers as the practice promotes keeping their bodies supple, strong, and injury-free.
The benefits of yoga for kids in particular include :
– yoga teaches kids to develop self-awareness of their bodies through their breathwork. Rather than being focused on how they look while performing the poses (or dance), yoga teaches them be mindful of what it feels like from inside as they go deeper into each pose.
-yoga teaches children how to be compassionate for themselves and others as they learn how to sense their own needs.
– yoga provides kids with space where they can feel safe, explore the physical environment without any judgment from adults or peers, and experiment in an open-ended way. Yoga poses also allow them room both physically (their bodies stretch) and mentally (clearing the mind and focusing on their breath) to learn who they are and what works for them.
– yoga provides a sense of calmness that is often missing in busy, fast-paced lives. It encourages children to find their own stillness while also practicing yoga asanas with breathwork.
You can try to find a local yoga studio and do weekly classes together over your holiday break, or you can find lessons online for your dancer to do as well. Cosmic kids yoga is a well-loved youtube channel by many all over the world, but if you are after a more structured approach you would be best finding a local class with an instructor.
8. Start doing Pilates exercises
Pilates is a type of exercise created by Joseph Pilates. It is a system of physical exercises which can aid in increasing a person’s flexibility and strength, as well as improve balance for anyone who does the exercises on a regular basis. It is another great nondance activity for dancers to try and do regularly
Pilates is known to increase dance students’ flexibility, which if important when taking a break from dance classes. In particular, they benefit from pilates as they will be able to use their increased core strength to better support themselves during dance movements and stretches.
Maintaining an injury free body during dance activities has always been important for successful performances so it’s no surprise that pilates could be seen as especially beneficial for dancers when having a break from formal dance training, given its ability to maintain muscle tone while working on improving strength and endurance through various stretches and exercises.
You can find pilates lessons in most gyms and health clubs, or you can purchase a DVD or book to do at home. There are also many free pilate’s tutorials you can check out on youtube!
9. Try out Trampolining!
Another fun summer activity is trying out trampolining! Not only will it help with your dancers core strength but also the flexibility of their legs – which are both very important in dance.
If you have a trampoline at home, spending time on that can be lots of fun for your dancer and be beneficial as well. They can work on jumping into different dance poses such as a stag, or the splits whilst developing their calf and feet muscles if they remember to point their feet as well!
Another option is to go to a gymnastics club and take trampolining classes! Did you know that trampolining is an actual Olympic sport! It is! And so your child could spend their holidays not only learning new skills that can help maintain their dance technique but also fall in love with the sport of trampolining!
10. Tumble and cartwheel at a gymnastic club.
There are many gymnastics clubs out there that offer fun gymnastics camps or workshops during the holiday breaks. Some camps are intensive programs aimed at skilled gymasts, but these clubs usually also offer more casual gym camps that are based on providing a fun and active program to kids of varying skill where they learn basic acrobatic skills, play games and give kids free time on the gym equipment. These types of fun programs are perfect for dancers on a break especially if they are able to do them with some friends or siblings although making new friends is usually never too hard with so many programed activities to enjoy! So it is possible to take on a new challenge, whilst maintaining your dance skills!
11.Learn how to Tik Tok
Kids and teenagers love Tik Tok, there is no doubt about that! So as a summer holiday activity, that will help maintain your dancers skills – learn how to Tik Tok together.
The dances seen in a Tik Tok reel might not be the most technical or involve a lot of flexibility and strength but what they will help with is keeping your dancer’s minds sharp at learning new choreography whilst having fun! There are so many different dances to learn that can you make it a mission to learn just one or many! You don’t have to post you or your dancer doing the dances onto the tik tok platform either. Just learning the dances can be fun all in itself. Alternatively, you can film them and just keep the memories for yourself or if you are ok with it, start a Tik Tok account and upload and share them with the world! You and your dancer could even start making up some of your own!
12. Play games and spend active time with your child!
Lastly, playing any game around the house that gets kids moving can keep kids fit while they’re taking a break from formal activities over the holidays without even realizing how much they are working their bodies. Think games like tag, playing basketball/baseball/soccer, etc… hide and seek, skipping rope, hopscotch – any game that gets you and them moving and elevates your heart rate!
Summer holidays are a great time to have fun with your kids and get them excited for the upcoming dance season, but it’s also important not to put too much pressure on them so they can enjoy their break without feeling like they’re missing anything. Hopefully, you have found something in this list that ticks those boxes and leaves you with great memories and a confident dancer ready to get back into the studio when your break is over!
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For more ideas and articles about dancing over the summer or during the holidays check out the following articles!