Instructors: Adapting for Age Ranges

When teaching a wide range of ages, from children to mature adults, playlists remain one of the most helpful tools for engaging and relating to your audience.

If you’re not sure what sort of music will get them going, ask someone in the group (or the parent/caretaker) if they have any special preferences for songs and work from there. Harness your signature teaching style and you’ll be amazed at how adaptable you become. Every instructor’s gift for teaching is different. 

For example, I’ve learned that my personal goals for teaching are to help build flexibility and confidence. In the young I include games such as “Freeze Dance” or “Freeze Yoga” that will help encourage their creativity. I will also alter the pace of sun salutations dramatically, from super slow to super speedy, to help preserve their sense of freedom, excitement and gracefulness as well.

With middle-age adults I find myself building both self-confidence and humility, leading classes in was that engage the mind and body separately – for example focusing on counting reps or music can distract from physical effort, while focusing on the breath can help shut off the mental effort. I find adults to often be more cautious and detail-oriented than children and therefore they often enjoy learning little by little, then assembling the larger element later in the class.

With mature adults, it’s their grace that strikes me most of all.

Regardless of age, it is always important that students feel safe in whatever it is they’re doing. You will want to make sure you train and certify to teach any populations that are out of your realm of experience and expertise.

Appropriate music and positive language can provide a means for the instructor to engage the student’s imagination while observing the effectiveness of their guidance and instruction. Particularly with children simple props such as stuffed animals can help set the scene and get into their world. But even with adults, holding the same prop as others in the class can offer a helpful confidence that they are equipped.

The best instructors seem to be those who have learned how to take students on a journey. We all need to be rescued them from our doubts from time to time. 

And thus, if we can help people find confidence right where they are, we’ll be well positioned to help stretch them a bit and build upon their strengths. Group exercise is a humbling, and often vulnerable, experience. But that’s what makes it powerful. 

Colby - Ballet uncropped

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