At CORE, part of our mission is to provide a rich learning experience by highly trained professionals that specialize in Early Childhood Dance Ed. By simply having a loving and QUALIFIED instructor, we are setting up our students for continued success in dance and in life!
We are particularly proud and dedicated of our Early Childhood dance program. We spend much of our summers researching, training and creating fun and effective learning syllabi to span our ages 18 months to 8 years old. This sets up our school year so we are organizing our lessons to serve the big picture- regardless of whose class you take, you are learning similar target lesson.
Parents often ask “What is creative movement?” The terms dance and movement are interchangeable when referring to creative movement. Creative movement is an art form whose medium is the human body in motion. The four basic elements of dance are the body and its different parts and range of movement, and space, time, and energy. Understanding and using these four elements can open up a range of imaginative possibilities.
Body part movement variations: “Can you march with your arms up high?” “Can you clap? Touch your knees?” “Can you march bending one knee and keeping the other leg straight? On your tiptoes? Lying on your back with your feet in the air?”
Spatial variations: “Can you march backwards? Low? High?” “Can you turn?” “Can you march in a square pattern on the floor?”
Time variations: “Can you march in slow motion?” “Can you march for seven steps and then freeze? Let’s count together.” “Now, march as fast as you can!”
Energy variations: “Can you march as if your feet are caught in quicksand?” “Can you march and stomp through mud puddles?” “Can you march as if you are in bare feet on a hot blacktop driveway on a summer day?” “Can you march without making a sound when your feet touch the floor?”
The possibilities are endless. Children can perform the variations according to their individual abilities and imaginations. Creative movement gives children opportunities to move in new ways and helps them learn that there can be more than one solution to a question, a problem, or a task.
Come and see for yourself!
Time and time again, I hear people ask, “Aren’t they too young to be dancing?” The truth is, as long as you find age appropriate dance classes, no. The ability to start dancing develops in children before they can even form words! Dance is a primal part of human experience across all cultures and time periods that unites us all no matter our age. The benefits it has on early childhood development is definitely worth understanding.
Physical development is one of the most obvious benefits dance classes have for children. They are learning a great range of motion, body awareness, balance, muscle strength, coordination, and endurance. Movement patterns require the child to use their entire body to reach a level of fitness that is unparalleled by other activities. Through dance classes, kids begin to understand that the possibilities of movement are endless and fun to explore.
In dance classes, children have the opportunity to learn in a comfortable social setting. They must take turns, work as a group, cooperate, share, understand space, form lines, watch and support one another, perform, and interact. They learn that communication can occur through immediate and effective movement to express an idea. The group dynamic in dance classes also challenges young ones to respect others as they share and move through space in unison. Many times you will see a very strong bond between dancers because of these efforts no matter how old they are.
At a young age, children understand that movement can be used as a response to an idea or problem. This creates a cognitive link to a solution or outcome. This type of cognitive development creates an awareness of how to function in the world. For example, it is very common in dance classes for children to be taught to leap over a “river” (scarf or mat) so they don’t get wet. This idea achieves several different concepts… leg extension, transferring weight, problem solving, imagination, balance, space recognition, etc. The idea is that physical expression or solutions give young ones another way to handle the world while their verbal communication develops.
Because dancing is also an art form, children are learning how to creatively express their emotions as well. There are endless opportunities to share and be aware of various emotions as students experience one another and themselves through movement. Dance classes provide a structured outlet for a healthy physical and emotional release that helps devolop emotional maturity.
Scientific research has barely tapped in to the benefits of dance classes for early childhood development. I think we can all agree by saying that they are definitely not harmful. Well, unless you are involved in something like the show, “Dance Moms”… but that’s a different blog post. Stay tuned!
Dance classes are an amazing tool for teaching children basic life skills that can be used for throughout the rest of their lives. So many different skills and rules are needed to be successful in this world and kids are never too young to start learning them.
1. Spacial Awareness: Kids learn about spacial awareness pretty quickly in dance classes. In many young classes, you will see teachers using colors, spots, or shapes to keep the kids standing in a certain area. When teachers use props like these, they are also teaching kids to not play with them or move them so they stay in a formation or line. In the real world, we all get a little offended when someone gets in our personal bubble, don’t we? Teaching kids to be aware of space at a young age will help avoid some conflicts at school and on the playground.
2. Taking Turns: Dancers must take turns going across the floor, sharing information with their teacher, standing in the front, freestyling…the list goes on! Knowing when it is our turn to do something is a skill that everyone uses constantly to get through every day life. The sooner a child understands this, the sooner they understand how to interact better with others, and the less conflicts they will experience.
3. Standing In Line: Throughout dance classes, dancers will stand in lines to keep things efficient, organized, and visually appealing. When people are not in lines when they should be, it can create a sense of chaos. Imagine Disneyland, the grocery store, or the freeways without lines! School teachers, camp directors, and other program leaders rely on lines constantly to get from place to place and teach this lesson over and over to run successful programs. Why not reinforce this skill in dance classes to help kids be more acquainted with every day expectations?
4. Listening: Dancers are taught to listen and watch more than speak. They must listen to their teacher, to the music, and to the sound of their steps. The more a dancer can listen closely, the more they can stay on beat and develop their musicality. Good listening skills are one of the most important things you can teach a child. It helps them be successful in school, understanding rules, and communicating with others.
5. Talking When Appropriate: How often do you correct your child when they speak out of turn, interrupt, or talk back? This happens almost all day long until about college, right? Dance classes teach kids to be quiet while stretching, waiting in line, while the teacher instructs, and so on. If the teacher is experienced, they will create moments for their dancers to talk so kids know when it is and isn’t appropriate to share. You can’t expect a kid to be quiet for an entire hour while they are having fun, but you can teach them when it is ok to share their ideas.
6. Respect: Respecting other dancers and well as your teacher is a huge concept in dance class. Kids are taught to share, respect space, take turns, listen, clap for others… the whole shebang! Teachers really tend to drive this point home when students start dancing in groups to perform for each other. Dancers are always taught to clap for one another, give each other compliments, and never make fun of anyone for their dancing. If the teacher does it right, s/he should be creating an environment that feels safe and loving for kids to build their confidence. The more dancers respect one another, the better they will all feel and the more they will grow.
7. Good Posture: Part of good etiquette is having good posture. Dancers are taught to keep their heads up, stand up straight, and keep their shoulders back. Younger dancers don’t always learn these skills in too much depth but they start learning not to hang on ballet barres like monkeys, to lift up to stand on their toes, how to shift their weight quickly, and to change how high or low they are dancing. The muscles that create good posture are being developed whether they realize it or not. Dance classes force kids to start having body awareness which translates to posture and good body language a little later in life.
8. Following Directions: Kids are all in the process of learning how to follow directions. Children who dance really get this reinforced throughout the entire class. Dancing is one of the only activities where one must follow the direction of their choreographer, the music, fellow dancers, and their own bodies all at the same time with precision and while looking good. There is a lot of direction going on there! We all know that following directions is a huge skill that dictates the majority of our lives. Again, let dance classes teach them while they are young!
9. Sharing: Young dancers often get to use props in their classes because it is a creative way for the teacher to keep them engaged in what they are learning. With the use of props, students are typically sharing through using them as well as bringing them back to the teacher. It’s amazing how willing a young child is to help clean up, isn’t it? Many times tiny tot dancers can get into little tiffs over who gets to give which prop to their teacher. Sharing is encouraged during clean up and in dance games to coincide with the lessons kids are being taught about sharing in school and at home.
10. Dressing To Impress: Many dance studios ask that dancers have their hair out of their faces and are wearing dance attire. Dress codes help dancers focus so they aren’t fidgeting or confined to their clothing. You don’t tend to see too many sloppy dancers out there now do you? When we learn to dress to impress at a young age, it sends a message of structure, organization, and cleanliness. We make better first impressions and become more appealing to others when we take good care of ourselves.
Many children’s activities teach or reinforce similar life skills but the way dance classes do it is unparalleled. Combine a great teacher with music, movement, precision, athleticism, beauty, grace, fun, games, props, and energy and you’ve got a recipe for an amazing experience! Try out a dance class and teacher that engages your child for a while and you’ll be surprised at how quickly these skills kick in gear! We all know how important each and every one of them are in our every day lives, develop them in your child through dance!