(benefits of dance at a young age)
Dance and movement at a young age is a joyful way for children to explore movement through music, develop physical skills, channel energy, stimulate imagination, enhance problem solving skills and promote creativity. Through movement children learn about their bodies, the space around them and each other.
Creative Movement is an opportunity for all children, regardless of age, special needs, or developmental stage, to interact with each other. It is a great energy releaser.
And best of all, it's FUN!
Check out these links for more specific info and research:
Specific benefits of creative movement and dance at young ages:
1.Development. Movement is one of the first forms of communication. From infancy, children love to move. Just watch the reaction of a young child when he hears music, an instrument playing, or someone clapping. He responds to the sounds with motion, whether it’s swaying, rocking, clapping, or kicking his feet. Sheer delight is almost instantaneous. Developing that innate creativity is dependent on early influences. Creative movement enhances movement development that occurs between ages two and seven. During these ages, locomotor (creeping, walking, jumping, leaping, etc.), nonlocomotor (stretching, bending, twisting, shaking, etc.), and stability and balance skills are able to flourish when children are provided with practice opportunities.
2.Sensory Awareness. Children perceive the world through their senses. Sensory awareness work leads to a greater understanding of themselves and their surroundings. It strengthens the imaginative powers and increases abilities to experience life with greater meaning. Learning is facilitated when a child’s entire body is involved. 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. Visually, children respond to the images they see as well as the images they create. The auditory sense is stimulated as children respond to sounds (and music) they make or hear. Tactile experiences include running with bare feet, performing specific floor movements, or swirling a scarf. These sensory experiences help children appreciate the beauty in nature, art, literature and everyday living.
3.Social. The critical skills necessary for purposeful and self-directed living often are rooted in learning to: realize one’s own uniqueness, recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of others, express personal feelings, cooperate within a social structure, and ultimately define and create one’s self. Creative movement is rich with opportunities to fulfill these kinds of experiences successfully. It encourages an interactive environment where children share space as they explore movement together. They move their own way and gradually learn to observe different responses to movement ideas. The possibility of creating movements together becomes more appealing.
4.Special Needs. Children with special needs benefit because they can participate at their own level and ability. Children who are physically challenged can explore body parts or keep a beat by blinking their eyes. They will respond in their own unique way. Props, like a feather, can be placed or attached in an appropriate area of the child's body or equipment. Children with special needs can feel a sense of belonging to a group and experience the joy of learning.
5.Health and Fitness. Our urban environment has imposed many physical limitations. Children do not become coordinated and agile without a variety of movement experiences. 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. Movement classes are so imperative! Providing opportunities for locomotor activity contributes to children's fitness level.
6.Language. Cognitive learning is stimulated by movement. Research shows that the right hemisphere of the brain (sensing and feeling side) functions through activities such as music, art and creativity. The left hemisphere organizes sequential and logical skills such as language and speech. Both sides of the brain must be developed during the critical learning periods in early childhood because of the cross referencing that occurs. When children are engaged in creative movement, they are involved in activities that will increase their memory and ability to communicate. Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph.D., a psychoanalyst at the University of California, Berkeley, eloquently said: "Scientists are confirming what teachers have long suspected: Music not only touches people's souls, it also shapes growing minds. When children sing or play music they become better readers, thinkers and learners. The more we discover about how the brain works, the more we recognize how crucial music is to children's learning."
7.Body Awareness. Children need to gain a better mental picture of their own body. Controlling their own bodies is the first type of control children have over themselves. It is the first step toward developing internal control and self-discipline. Body awareness is an essential part of becoming aware of our feelings, because they exist in our minds AND bodies. When we feel angry or excited, we feel it in our whole self. Body awareness is also important in the development of spatial orientation. Children who do not perceive the space of their own bodies may frequently misjudge distances or bump into things. It also helps with development of motor skills. Creative movement activities focus on body awareness, motor fitness, rhythmic skill, strength, flexibility, coordination, endurance, and physical vitality.
8.Concentration. Self-control is enhanced by the capacity to concentrate and focus. Children must learn what it feels like to concentrate. Once children learn what focusing feels like, it can be a frame of reference for other activities where concentration is more difficult to achieve. Concentration is essential in creating an environment for learning in the classroom.
9.Behavior. Children will always move! Creative movement gives children the opportunity for movement that relieves tension, which would otherwise be expressed as “wiggling.” Also, children become more capable of determining what kind of movement is appropriate for different situations, for example, when to move freely and when to move carefully. Creative movement helps children gain more experience in concentrating, and develop higher levels of awareness of themselves and others. Contributions in the group will become more frequent and productive as children become more comfortable.
10.Respect. Experiences in creative movement can help children respect the working space of others, as they learn about 'personal space' and 'shared space.' Children also learn to recognize, appreciate and respect differences in the people they come in contact with. Children learn and respect the fact that all bodies come in various sizes and shapes. They also learn to respect these differences in their peers.
**Self-Esteem. Self-esteem is the GREATEST benefit from incorporating creative movement into any curriculum. As children learn more and develop new skills, their self-esteem increases. When a child exclaims, 'I did it!' or 'I know that!' they are showing the power they feel in their own competence. A child's self-esteem is also enhanced through participation in activities where their contributions are valued.