THE SIGNIFICANCE OF DANCE/MOVEMENT CLASSES FOR CHILDREN
Because of the excellent developmental benefits for children of a young age, Family Dream Center is enthusiastic about offering dance to these littlest members of the community. There are multiple benefits of dance and movement even in the earliest years of life.
Dance and movement enhances problem-solving skills, channels energy, stimulates imagination, develops physical skills, and provides a joyful way to interact with others while listening to music. Regardless of age, special needs, or developmental stage, children in a dance/movement class enjoy themselves and profit from the exercise at the same time.
More specifically, dance/movement is advantageous to children in the following ways:
All senses are engaged when children explore different aspects of movement. The kinesthetic sense increases as children literally feel the shapes and actions that their bodies are making. Auditory sense is stimulated as children respond to sounds they make or hear; also, visual and tactile senses are provoked as children respond to images they see and create and as they run with bare feet, perform floor movements, or swirl a scarf.
During the ages of two and seven, locomotor (creeping, walking, jumping, leaping), nonlocomotor (stretching, bending, twisting, shaking ), and stability and balance skills are enhanced in a dance/movement class. Children naturally respond to sounds with motion, whether it’s swaying, rocking, clapping, or kicking the feet. In fact, movement is one of their first forms of communication. It is very important to develop for each child that innate creativity in movement.
Children must learn what it feels like to concentrate. Focusing in the dance classroom is a first step toward concentration in other activities where it is even more difficult to exercise self-control. Concentration is essential in creating an environment for learning.
Children with special needs can experience the joy of learning as part of a group. As well, they can participate at their own level and ability. Physically challenged children can explore body parts or keep a beat by blinking their eyes. Also, special props are used to get children to respond in their own unique way.
Creative movement encourages an interactive environment where children share space as they explore movement together. Children learn to recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of others and cooperate within a social structure. They get an opportunity to express their own personal feelings and move their own way, gradually learning to observe different responses to various movement ideas.
Health and Fitness
Researchers are becoming increasingly concerned about the low level of movement in children and have observed that children are being socialized to prefer less activity. In order to be agile and coordinated, children must have plenty of opportunities for locomotor activity.
Children need to move to relieve tension. In dance/movement classes, children learn what kind of movement is appropriate for different situations, and they gain more experience in concentrating. When to move freely and when to move carefully become a part of their daily routine.
Both sides of the brain must be developed during the critical learning periods in early childhood because of the cross referencing that occurs. For example, the right hemisphere of the brain functions through activities such as music, art, and creativity while the left hemisphere organizes sequential and logical skills, such as language and speech. When children engage in creative movement, they increase their memory and ability to communicate. Also, researchers today recognize that when children sing or play music, they become better readers, thinkers, and learners.
Self-Esteem and Respect
As children’s contributions are valued, self-esteem is strengthened, and as they learn more and develop new skills, their level of self-esteem climbs even higher. Self-esteem is, in fact, the end result of a program that incorporates creative movement into the curriculum. Another important benefit to dance/movement classes is helping children to respect others’ working space and to respect differences in the people with whom they come into contact.
The first type of control that children learn is mastery over their own bodies, an essential part of developing internal control and self-discipline. When, for example, children feel angry or excited, they feel that emotion in their entire being; thus, body awareness helps children become aware of their own feelings. Body awareness also helps in the development of spatial orientation and motor skills. Sometimes children may not sense the space of their own bodies; therefore, they misjudge distances or bump into things, or they have difficulty with motor skills. Activities to correct these challenges include coordination, motor fitness, strength, endurance, flexibility, and rhythmic activities.