03/05/2008 at 06:05 AM EST
headed back into the dance studio Tuesday night to teach a class of 15 children.
And her pint-sized pupils are singing her praises. "I like Britney," 5-year-old Elissa Bouganim, who has taken three classes with the pop star, tells PEOPLE. “Today, first we were dancing slow, and then faster and faster ... Then we did the fish-move and lots of other fun things."
The troubled 26-year-old has become a semi-regular instructor
at the Millennium Dance Complex in the past month – as she has settled into an uncharacteristically quiet routine
overseen by her dad Jamie.
"It's just amazing to watch Britney with the kids," says Elissa's mom, Pam. "Elissa won't stop dancing now, that's all she wants to do. Britney has really inspired her."
In fact, Elissa has grown so fond of her new teacher, she even gave Spears a gift during Tuesday's class. "It was a picture of [Peter Pan
's] Tinkerbell," she says. "And she gave me a hug."
These days, Elissa would be happy if Spears taught all
her classes. "Britney is nice," she says. "I want to dance with Britney all the time because it's so much fun."