I get a lot of parents who, without meaning to be insulting, ask, “What could you possibly do with a 3 year old in a dance class? Aren’t they just running around for an hour?” Uh, no. I used to be incredibly insulted and even angered, but then I realized it is just a lack of knowledge and understanding. There are so many things that even the youngest child learns in a well-crafted dance class that is developmentally appropriate. Not only do they learn gross motor skills but they learn social skills, how to share, take turns, impulse control, and concepts of levels, speed, repetition, shape, movement quality, and more. Believe me, there is a lot of education, both in dance and in learning theory, child development, etc., that goes into becoming a dance teacher. Pre-school dance is an even more specialized field. (Just think for a moment about the last you had to hold the attention of a group of toddlers and keep them on task…yeah, you know you’d rather have a root canal!) There are certain techniques that work with this age. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of energy and you have to be able to think quickly on your toes if something is not going as planned, which is pretty much expected in every class.
There are some obvious benefits to studying dance, such as fitness, strength, flexibility, coordination and grace and some less obvious ones such as confidence, organizational skills, discipline, persistence, grooming and creativity. The National Dance Education Organization states:
“The art of dance uses movement to communicate meaning about the human experience. It is far more than exercise or entertainment. It is a powerful medium to express one’s values, thoughts, and aspirations about the lives we live and the world in which we live. Education in the art of dance develops the knowledge and skills required to create, perform, and understand movement as a means of artistic communication. A comprehensive education includes improvisation, technique, choreography, performance, observation and analysis. Exposure to dance history and cultures, kinesiology and anatomy, and movement theories further enriches the dance educational experience. Education in the art of dance engages the artistic processes of creating, performing and critical analysis. These processes require students to read symbol systems, use critical thinking skills, excel in nonverbal reasoning and communication, exchange ideas, work cooperatively and collaboratively with others, and interact within a multicultural society. More comprehensively, education in the art of dance develops kinesthetic and spatial learning as well as intra- and interpersonal knowledge of self and others. Arts research shows that students who study dance are more
- Self-motivated, disciplined and focused in their everyday lives.
- Expressive in their communication of emotions, thoughts and feelings.
- Creative and imaginative.
- Able to critically analyze their own work and the work of others.”
(Go to www.ndeo.org for more info.)
For more on why you/your child should dance, check out this article in Dance Informa Magazine click here.
Tell us below in the comment section why you dance. We love to hear what inspires others to work so hard at this magnificent art.