The benefits of dance for young children

Aug 2012
Dance is a way for children to communicate ideas, thoughts and feelings in a non-verbal manner.

Whilst there are many benefits of traditional team sports, such sports may not be suitable for younger children. If you are looking for a way to channel your child's seemingly unwavering energy, you may like to consider the benefits of dance classes.

Irrespective of culture or ethnicity, it is widely agreed that moving to music is enjoyable for young children, with the average age for children to start classes at three years of age.

With child obesity on the increase, we can of course appreciate the physical benefits of encouraging children to dance. But in addition to helping children burn off excess energy and stay healthy, dance offers numerous other benefits.

Tinies, the Childcare Experts, published an article by Mandy Fouracre, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance, outlining the benefits of dance for young children. Mandy explains that an early year's dance experience will help children to develop body control, co-ordination, balance and spatial awareness. Children also get to experience a range of gross motor movements and fine motor movements.

Mandy also considers dance as a way for children to communicate ideas, thoughts and feelings in a non-verbal manner. Dance can also support children's literacy development as they use their imagination to formulate ideas, characters and narratives.

There are also personal, social and emotional benefits of children dancing from an early age, as they develop friendships, build trust and work as part of a team: "According to EduDance, dance lessons can encourage children to foster a more positive attitude and explore their own self-expression."

When considering whether your child is ready to embark on group dance classes, Mandy offers the following criteria:
• Does your child enjoy music and movement?
• Are they confident enough to attend a class without a parent or guardian in attendance?
• Is your child already familiar with a formal group structure, such as nursery or playschool?
• Are they aware of the need to listen and cooperate in a group learning situation?
• Has your child stopped wearing nappies?

Mandy believes that if you can answer yes to the above questions, your child may be ready to experience the joys and benefits of group dance classes.