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Dancing Toddler

Dance is often overlooked as an important and has not been included in young children’s early childhood experiences. Many educators and much of the general public believe that dance is a frivolous activity with no educational merits.  Including arts in the young child’s early childhood experiences is important to growth, self-esteem, and creative expression of children and in no way trivial to their educational process.  Dance should be an integral component of a comprehensive education for the same reasons that math, history, language arts, social studies, and science are essential to education.   Each subject taught to students help them learn who they are, how they interact with others in the world, and how they fit into history.  Providing these elements to students in a unique way, dance allows children to simultaneously move, think, feel.  In no other subject do students learn to express themselves and communicate through movement, a natural means of expression for children.

Dance is more than the exploring of different ways to make a shape or learning a series of steps to music; it is a way of moving that uses the body as an instrument of expression and communication.  Through dance students learn teamwork, focus, and improvisational skills.  Dance awakens new perceptions in children, which help them learn and think in new ways.

Children need to express and communicate their ideas and to be given the opportunity to make creative decisions, even at a young age.  This decision-making promotes self-esteem and independent thinking for children.  Learning movement of others helps to expand the child’s movement vocabulary while creating one’s own movement puts the child in a leadership role and gives them a chance for their voice to be heard.  Giving students freedom to make choices within a structure prepares them for great character and self-control as they grow and mature into creative-thinking adults; and to test their own personal boundaries.

Dance also enables students to better understand themselves and the world in which they live.  Through the arts, teachers can often teach students to recognize the contribution of all individuals to the fabric of our society and increase understanding of those around them.  Dance lends itself well to this task through learning traditional fold dances, and creating new dances from children’s ideas.  Dance also enhances skills of perception, observation, and concentration; which will undoubtedly help students in all of their school subjects.  Educators need to understand that it is important to encourage creative-thinking in all aspects of a young child’s life, not just produce non-thinkers and promote regurgitation of facts alone.  Dance is the perfect forum for creative and participatory learning.  Since different children will excel and learn in different ways, it is crucial to include art in their educational experience.  Learning new skills, learning academic subjects from a new perspective, and having the space for expression and creativity in a supported environment will help to advance the self-esteem and independent thinking in young ones.


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