Children love to dance
- we’ve all been engaging in this common phenomenon since early childhood.
Toddlers tend to clap their hands and jiggle and bounce to the rhythm of cheerful music.
Dancing is part of everyday life, and this art form can enrich lives beyond our wildest expectations.
WHY CHILDREN SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO DANCE:
1 Dancing develops
motor planning skills
Motor planning refers to the ability we have to plan our muscle movements for any coordinated movement associated with the body. All facets of movement are included, i.e. the planning and even the organising of movement patterns.
New dance steps during dancing are practised step-by-step until they are completely mastered and can be performed naturally. Initially, young dancers tend to dance with almost robotic movements, it is only when the dance routine has been mastered that dance steps appear more fluent, and almost effortless.
Motor planning skills also need to be acquired by children who are initially learning to read and write. When letters are first written, it is done with an intense effort and children tend to press down really hard onto the paper. As their writing technique improves, they master the craft of writing more neatly and even faster.
2 Dancing develops coordination
Coordination and balance are crucial for any style of dancing, and when both arms and legs are used simultaneously in a coordinated manner, the dancer needs to possess bilateral coordination in order to maintain balance.
Bilateral coordination is the ability to use both sides of the body during coordinated movements. This is made possible by incorporating the bilateral integration of the two hemispheres of the brain.
Dancing thus helps with the improvement of brain integration and also stimulates bilateral coordination.
3 Dancing develops body
awareness and kinesthesia
Body awareness is the image that we have of our limbs and parts of the body, and how they function separately or together.
Kinesthesia is the sensation by which the bodily position of limbs is perceived, without having to physically see those limbs.
People suffering from poor kinesthesia include those who struggle to dance without having to look at their feet. The mirrors mounted on dance studios’ walls serve the purpose to help children improve their kinesthetic skills on a cognitive level.
Kinesthesia is important for both small and large motor activities. For example, in the classroom it becomes increasingly important for when the child has to write faster, or when a lesson needs to be written correctly down from a transparency without having to look at the hand whilst writing.
4 Dancing encourages self-confidence and perseverance
Being a great dancer demands hard work and dedication. You have to persevere, even when you don’t feel like practising. Through perseverance a child can accomplish anything and any parent would most certainly like to see their child excel – dancing provides a platform to master this ability.
Greatness in what you do also demands self-confidence, especially during dance exams and even more when reciting in concerts. Performing in front of an audience is most definitely not for sissies! When a dancer does fall or make a mishap, it will be the dancer who gets up and finishes the routine who gets rewarded with applause!
5 Dancing develops cognitive skills
Children have to memorise the dance routine and also constantly have to concentrate on the steps that are being taught. Dancing therefore holds many challenges for both concentration and memory.
In general our memory and concentration functions are found in the organised left brain and the ability to coordinate them with the creative right brain leads to excellent brain integration – something we can all benefit from.
6) Dancing develops
Spatial awareness is an ability we possess to observe locations, relations, distances and the sequence of objects in a spatial context.
Spatial awareness especially becomes important when children have to dance in groups and perform choreographed move-ments.
Spatial awareness also serves as one of the main reasons why the importance of babies crawling became apparent. By crawling, the baby learns about the relations and distances between objects.
In a school context it becomes apparent that spatial awareness relates to the forming of letters and work layout. Children who struggle to grasp spatial awareness, may find it especially hard to correctly position letters in relation to each other, e.g. b, d, p, q etc.
Dancing presents a unique opportunity to tackle these sorts of problems, but when a child has great difficulty in overcoming any of these obstacles, a course in occupational therapy is strongly advised.
Dancing presents various challenges
The beautiful posture that has to be maintained throughout a performance eventually becomes a unique quality. A good posture is important for children who are learning to read and write. It offers a stable framework for coordinated, delicate motor activities, for instance writing or colouring in.
Children with poor muscular tension may find dancing to be quite difficult, but after following an intensive course in occupational therapy or physiotherapy, dancing can be the ideal activity to treat muscular tension.
Muscular tension is the tension/strain in muscles when they are relaxed. Poor muscle tension is the result of muscles being so relaxed that they can’t keep the wrists in position. Static positions like standing and sitting therefore requires much more effort in order to maintain the position.
Dancing also offers intrinsic rhythms made through various feet movements. Rhythm and timing are integral in any routine, and scholastically rhythm also serves as the basis of reading assignments. It begins with the ability to sound and form words and includes syllabification, speech recognition and spelling.
To conclude: Formal dance instruction is an excellent extra-curricular activity for kids. It’s a challenging sport as well as an art form in its own right and offers children the opportunity to express themselves.
Dancing keeps us healthy and fit, it keeps us moving and it keeps us thinking, but most importantly, dancing is great fun!
Article by : Elvira Burger 072 6610 167