We’ve all seen it. Put children in a large space and play some good music. What happens? Without any prompting or supervision, little bodies begin to move and smiles appear all around! When the music plays, dancing is as natural to children as flying is to birds. With the global pandemic keeping families indoors for the better part of a year, parents’ resources for keeping children active have been reduced to near zero. But whether indoors or out, music motivates children to dance, and increasingly, evidence points to significant benefits in child development through dance. Below is a partial list of examples of what dance education does for chidden and teens.
- Physical Fitness: Every style of dance has, at its center, the concept of core strength as a basis for movement. From standing on toes, to deep knee bends, to fast turns, dance places demands on the human body that bring power, stamina, and flexibility. The discipline of dance leads to increased body awareness which improves posture and reduces stress during the developmental years and beyond.
- Cognitive Development: Patterns, numbers, and musical phrases give children mental tools for creative problem solving. Dance introduces a way to use counting in real life, and also helps differentiate right and left, as well as fast and slow. The complex pattern recognition and dexterity required improve mental focus and discipline.
- Confidence and Self Expression: Engaging in creative activities lets kids release their emotions and express their feelings. It’s a fantastic opportunity for children who aren’t yet able put their thoughts into words. When children are able to master complicated dance movements, they gain a sense of accomplishment that encourages them to conquer other challenges throughout their lives.
- Improved Social Skills: Classes provide young people a chance for supervised positive interaction with friends. Bringing children together with songs, rhymes, and movement lets them discover how to interact and connect with others. They develop listening and social skills that prepare them for school and other more complex social situations.
- Cultural Awareness: Dance comes from every culture and continent making it an art form that is truly without borders. Learning dances from other nations and cultures exposes children to the positive aspects of those cultures. Dance is free of politics, restrictions, and limits which makes it a language all its own that embraces everyone.
Schools have always and will always provide us with children’s basic educational needs. Math, spelling, and the sciences are factual, concrete, and easy to track. Development in the arts is an intangible yet necessary component to providing children cultural context for their lives. Our culture is defined by our art, our music, and our dance. When we give children a chance to get up and do something to the music they love, we have to notice that all of them are smiling...
And they’re moving more than just their thumbs!