Youtube is filled with cute dancing baby videos. It’s adorable to adults. Amazingly, though, it is natural to infants. The desire to express themselves through movement is hard-wired into their young brains. Studies have shown that dance, “… is pre-verbal, beginning before words can be formed. It is innate in children before they possess command over language and is evoked when thoughts or emotions are too powerful for words to contain. “ Besides making hilarious and heartwarming Youtube clips, when children bust a move it is good for them. Before you begin wondering whether or not to endure another one of your five year old niece’s (seemingly endless) dance recitals, please note the following.
Standards of Dance in Early Childhood: The Philosophy Underlying Early Childhood Standards by a staff writer of the National Dance Education Organization discusses the numerous benefits of dance in children. Creative movement and dance can have a major impact on a child’s: physical development, emotional maturity, social awareness, and cognitive development.
Here is what NDEO breakdown of dances’ effect on young bodies and minds:
Physical Development: Dance involves a greater range of motion, coordination,
strength and endurance than most other physical activities. This is
accomplished through movement patterns that teach coordination and
kinesthetic memory. Dancing utilizes the entire body and is an excellent form of
exercise for total body fitness. Young children are naturally active, but dance
offers an avenue to expand movement possibilities and skills.
Emotional Maturity: Dance promotes psychological health and maturity. Children
enjoy the opportunity to express their emotions and become aware of
themselves and others through creative movement. A pre-school child enters a
dance class or classroom with a history of emotional experiences. Movement
within a class offers a structured outlet for physical release while gaining
awareness and appreciation of oneself and others.
Social Awareness: Dance fosters social encounter, interaction, and cooperation.
Children learn to communicate ideas to others through the real and immediate
mode of body movement. Children quickly learn to work within a group dynamic.
As the ongoing and sometimes challenging process of cooperation evolves,
children learn to understand themselves in relation to others.
Cognitive Development: Young children will create movement spontaneously
when presented with movement ideas or problems that can be solved with a
movement response. Movement provides the cognitive loop between the idea,
problem, or intent and the outcome or solution. This teaches an infant, child and,
ultimately, adult to function in and understand the world. The relationship of
movement to intellectual development and education is an embryonic field of
study that has only recently begun to be explored.
Because children learn best from experience, learning by doing (and dance nothing if not “doing”) reinforces kinesthetic learning. Dance integrates kinesthetic learning with understanding and comprehension. Creative movement gives children an opportunity to learn through their primary systems: physical and sensory experiences. Dance involves problem solving, helping them to make sound choices and respond to stimuli accordingly with their bodies.
What is more, dance promotes literacy. The article continues: “To the young child, verbal language and movement are entwined. Preverbal movement expression does not cease when a child develops language. The road to literacy involves the translation of movement expression and communication into words. Learning language and learning dance are not separate threads, but are woven together and incorporated into a fabric of communication and understanding.”
Dance is not just about grooving to a fun beat. To children it is so much more. When you provide young ones with opportunities to move creatively, you are benefits their bodies and their minds.