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LOCKDOWN ENTERTAINMENT: Local dance school keeps children learning with online classes for all

LOCKDOWN ENTERTAINMENT: Local dance school keeps children learning with online classes for all

Image: Jess Barnes - Tiny Toes online classes

Tiny Toes Ballet, in Bridgend is offering all children free online classes to help support parents and teachers in lockdown.

Its eight-week course of classes combines drama, dance, cookery and more, and is aimed at children aged seven and under.

There is a 'Free Lockdown Programme' that provides online weekly activities including Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) activities, supported by downloadable educational resources for parents.

Jess Barnes, who runs the Bridgend Tiny Toes Ballet franchise, says she is delighted to be able to help keep the nation’s children learning through lockdown.

“We are currently offering weekly LIVE engaging, interactive dance classes - these allow our dancers to continue dancing and learning, and enjoying the wonder and magic of our sessions, safely at home,” she says. “Several free mid-week activities will also be available. With so many little lives impacted by the pandemic, offering a little bit of normality, familiarity and interaction is incredibly important. The team and I would be thrilled to welcome you to our online sessions soon!

“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 adds. “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.

It was founded in Swansea in 2011 by Emma Morgan, an experienced primary school and ballet teacher, and has grown to have 14 franchises all over the UK. Children can attend from the age of 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 and delivered free online classes for patients at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff and delivered 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.”


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