Have you noticed how dancing comes naturally to young kids and they revel in it? Dance fulfills a fundamental human drive for emotional expression and connection, and creative fulfillment and collaboration. Given that movement is an irreplaceable element of dance, when we dance multiple regions of the brain are engaged at once, which in turn promotes a healthy holistic cognitive, physical, and social development.
Moving to a more structured dance learning at a young age helps stimulate mental alertness, heighten attention to detail, develop critical thinking, and promote deeper learning. Not only do children learn to control and coordinate their bodies through dance, but also develop spatial awareness in the process. Children can improve their self-esteem through dance by working on acceptance and appreciation of their bodies, experiencing the joy of movement, and making physical fitness part of their long-term life routine.
Pedagogical thinkers John Dewey and Maria Montessori were strong advocates of incorporating body movement, dance, art and music in early childhood development. Among the many benefits of the formal study of dance, the three key advantages are
1. It promotes physical development
In dance, children learn body control and gain respect for personal space. It accelerates the development of gross and fine motor skills by improving their coordination, balance, stamina and strength. This forms the basis for healthy movement and development of musculature.
2. It accelerates neural growth
Due to the unique power of kinesthetic learning, dance stimulates the development of critical brain structures that determine academic and life success. According to a research conducted by Harvard psychiatrist John J. Ratey dance can profoundly impact alertness, attention, and motivation, and stimulates growth of new nerve cells in the hippocampus, a complex brain structure involved in learning and memory.
3. It encourages development of social skills and creativity
Being a part of a dance group promotes social and emotional development. Children learn to work together and value each other’s contributions. They learn to listen and explore each other’s ideas while moving together. As an art form, dance stimulates creativity. Dance recitals can be means of telling stories about relationships, cultures, perseverance, emotion, and community.
Above all, dancing can be a great emotional and energy outlet for children. While not all kids will end up pursuing the life of a professional dancer, all kids will have their lives enriched by the positive impact of an early exposure to the joy of movement.