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Tiny Steps Make a Huge Impact at the Ailey Extension

Posted by Content Manager, February 18, 2014 | The Ailey Extension
Tiny Steps at the Ailey Extension

The Ailey Blog spotlights Tiny Steps, a weekly program for children ages 2-3 designed to develop skills including self-expression, body awareness, and confidence through the use of music and movement.
Each Sunday at the Ailey Extension, a group of parents accompany their children to the Tiny Steps program, where each young participant is encouraged to explore music and movement through group and individual participation. Taught by Master Teacher Kay Wylie-Jacob, Ph.D., the 45-minute class features one session from 10-11am for 2 - 2 ½ year olds, and another from 11am -12pm for children 2 ½ - 3.

Designed to celebrate a child’s natural ability to move creatively, the Tiny Steps program is a class filled with imaginative play and exploration. Movement is considered integral to childhood development because of its extensive capacity for physical and emotional growth, and each session is carefully crafted to encourage skill development and self-expression.

Parents describe the Tiny Steps program as a joyous learning experience for child and parent alike: “It allows my daughter to express herself in a form she loves, dance, and allows me to share that with her,” says father Anastasios Christofora. Many parents maintain that it gives them a unique opportunity for one-on-one time, which in turn allows them to bond with their children. Young Tiny Steps participants also hone their social skills by participating in group activities, where they learn to interact with other children and adults outside their immediate family. Another father was delighted to note that his daughter had become less shy as the weeks progressed.

To encourage basic musicality and rhythmic comprehension, Tiny Steps instructors incorporate live drumming into the classes. Master Musician Victor See Yuen also showcases a different international instrument each week, and the children are given the opportunity to play it. This activity is described as an “educational boon” by mother Nicole Spratley, whose son Mikhail is a graduate of Tiny Steps and currently takes part in the First Steps program. Ms. Spratley continues, “Bar none, Gymboree has nothing on Tiny Steps. Children are moving together to the beat while fine-tuning their motor skills. Ailey’s Tiny Steps is where we started and Ailey is where we will stay.”

Parents appreciate the substantial growth they observe in confidence and ability, and they often note that their children learn to communicate with one another in natural and productive ways that extend far beyond the reaches of the dance studio. “Mali truly enjoyed Tiny Steps,” says mother Tia Gueye, who also placed her daughter in the First Steps program following completion of the Tiny Steps sessions. “She enjoyed the familiarity of the class, and there were components that she expected and looked forward to each week. By the end of the sessions, she learned a lot about how to control her body – both by listening attentively and expressing herself through independent improvisation.”

Tiny Steps will be offered during the spring term for a total of 8 sessions, from March 16 – May 11. Only one parent or caregiver must be present with each participating 2-year-old child. For more information and to register, please visit

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