3 Top Tips for Teaching KS1 Dance

Published on 17th April, 2024

KS1 Dance is your first opportunity to really introduce children to Dance PE - here are our top tips for starting on a high!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a primary school teacher of plenty of dance experience, or someone so new to the subject you find it a little daunting. Planning is key to dance lessons, and we’d argue that this is more important for KS1 Dance than anywhere else.

In this two-part blog post, we’re going to give you our top tips for teaching dance – starting with KS1 Dance. We’ve aimed this more for teachers with less experience in dance lessons – but there might be something everyone can take from this! And of course, if you have any input, suggestions or questions, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

KS1 Dance is often the first opportunity children are introduced to structured Dance PE – so it’s important to inspire them with engaging lessons and fun, creative exercises!

Why is KS1 Dance Important?

At age 5, a child is less physically developed than when they are moving into KS2, age 7. Therefore, motor competencies, specifically fundamental movement skills are such an important part of a KS1 child’s development. Dance PE lessons play a huge part in these gross motor skills development, as well as developing coordination, movement patterns and spatial awareness. It also might be one of the first introductions to teamwork for a child, plus it’s an opportunity to build upon skills such as social interaction, concentration and self confidence.

A recent report published by the Sport and Recreation Alliance The Social Value of Movement and Dance to the UK‘ demonstrating the role movement and dance can play in creating a healthier and happier nation.

Dance clearly supports the PE National Curriculum for KS1 aims to ‘develop balance, agility and coordination‘ and ‘perform dances using simple movement patterns‘. Here are our top tips for getting the best our of your KS1 Dance PE lessons…

Tip 1: Set the right tone

How you teach dance at this age could determine how children see dance lessons in the future. And as they grow up, these early lessons could dictate their emotions towards dance full stop!

That may sound profound, and many factors come into play such as the general learning environment, the consistency of the teaching and the individual child’s preferences in the first place. But setting off on the right foot is an absolute must – and here’s what we suggest!

Be clear with instruction – so that children understand what is expected of them, and what they need to do. To some children, dance lessons may be as daunting as they are to you!

Use positive language – celebrate effort. Encourage those who are less enthusiastic. Use positivity to build the confidence of all children… Those who are a natural, and those who find dance lessons challenging.

Establish routines  – create consistency with your lessons. Again, children will know what to expect and what is expected of them. Predictability can help your pupils feel more comfortable and secure, resulting in a more positive overall experience. 

Tip 2: Keep it simple

KS1 Dance is all about establishing the various aspects of dance lessons. Avoiding overcomplication makes life easier for you and for your children! Simplicity helps with minimising confusion, playing to KS1 children’s attention spans and allowing you to concentrate on the core goals of KS1 Dance. Namely, developing movement skills, social skills and building strength and confidence.

Tip 3: Understand your pupils

We talk about this in this recent dance blog post. You will likely find that your class has many different personalities when it comes to dance lessons. However, they can broadly be place into one of two camps: those with confidence who are eager to get involved, and those that shy away from dance lesson activities.

The key – or the challenge! – is appealing to both. You can of course make this easier by keeping things simple (as in Tip 2), but what might also help is:

Pairing confident pupils with less-confident ones – the confident pupils can support the less confident ones, helping to bring out their inner dancer!

Learning what works with your children, and what doesn’t – this will come with time, with a bit of trial and error. It’s likely that at lest some of the children will be out of their comfort zone at times – it’s all about taking them out of it occasionally, but keeping them feeling comfortable with your lessons through consistency, positivity and fun.

Celebrate every child – positive reinforcement works – or should work – for all children, regardless of ability and how easy they find Dance PE lessons. In other words, foster a sense of achievement and self-worth and by the end KS1 most or all of your children will be excited, enthusiastic and engaged every time Dance PE lessons come around!

Bonus Tip: Try our new dance lesson plans

This year, we relaunched our Dance lesson plans – with accompanying video examples. This makes it much easier to deliver Dance lessons to your KS1 children, because watching the video allows you to understand the lesson plans much more quickly. 

Our downloadable PE lesson plans for KS1 are created by PE Specialists, with input from primary school teachers. We provide all the resources you need to deliver every primary PE Dance lesson. All our plans following the National Curriculum. They are perfect for teaching KS1 Dance!

To help develop subject knowledge and confidence even further, PE Planning offers Sports Specific CPD sessions to give your teachers the skills they require to deliver a high quality PE curriculum. Our Dance CPD is a very popular choice amongst many of our schools!

Preview of accompanying videos for our Dance units of work.

Need help with KS1 dance lessons?

We’re always here to help if you need extra guidance, advice or anything that makes your life easier. Drop us a message here!

For further reading, many teachers read and get help from our blog post Teaching Dance – It’s Not That Daunting. So, for those teaching KS1 Dance – especially those new to it – it’s a must-read!

Good luck – and share your experiences, as well as your own tips, with us on social media!

If you have any questions, need further guidance on delivering dance, or would like to find out more about our Dance CPD training and resources, please contact us here – we’d love to hear from you!