Teaching dance to kids with disabilities using TREE

An effective way to modify activities to better cater for all children is to remember the TREE acronym. The TREE acronym helps people remember ways to modify an activity or skill to allow all children to improve their skill level and enjoyment.

TREE helps dance teachers to explore their teaching approach to create the best possible learning experience for the kids in their class.

T= Teaching Style

Dance teachers need to find out the best ways to communicate and adapt their teaching style to the strengths and interests of each child,

  • Consider whether you teach through visual or verbal cues.
  • Use a questioning approach rather than an instructive approach.
  • Pair kids up to work together.
  • Use older or more skilful children to mentor others.

R=Rules and regulations

Dance teachers may need to adapt some of the rules to make it easier for kids with disabilities to participate in dance.

  • Modify the number of children that you might group together in an activity.
  • Adopt a more flexible approach to regulations e.g codes of dress
  • Strict approaches to the dance technique may need to be modified so all children can perform the dance movements.

E = Equipment

  • Provide props such as scarves, stretchy bands, rhythm instruments, lightweight balls, and textured fabric to enhance the quality and rhythm of the movement through sensory stimuli.
  • Deaf and hard of hearing children may benefit from a sound system with sub-woofers so they can feel the vibration of bass tones.
  • The use of furniture cubes/chairs in the dance lessons may also assist the inclusion of kids with a disability. For example, if a child has difficulty standing, dance exercises can be adapted so they can be performed while seated on a furniture cube or chair.


The environment of the dance studio can be adapted in various way to assist children to participate fully in dance.

  • Set up ‘home-base spaces’ to give structure to class. Giving each student a specific location in the dance space creates structure and provides a sense of security.
  • Deaf kids may benefit from being positioned in the centre of the class. This means they can always see and follow other dancers as they move around.
  • Some children with low vision may benefit from boundaries marked with strings at waist height or the brightly coloured tape on the floor to indicate the movement pathways.
  • Reduce the length of activities so children for children who may tire easily
  • Have space to move for children who use wheelchairs or mobility aids

Handy Hint

Remember, if you are unsure how to modify an activity, consider asking the children, or their parents/carers, what modifications could be made so they can fully participate.