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 How does a dance education benefit children?   

Ask anyone who has studied dance; be it recreationally or professionally and they will tell you how their dancing years were some of the best years of their life. As adults looking back on the influences that guided them in their formative years, many ex-dancers will attest to the discipline, self-confidence and team spirit that they received during their dance training. No matter which dance discipline that they studied, all walked out of the studio with feelings of confidence and a strong work ethic. Beyond the physical qualities that a dance education provides, it is these character traits that the majority of parents are looking for to help develop in their child.

For the youngest children, dance is often the first classroom situation they have ever encountered. This in itself brings forth many learning opportunities.  First is the separation process between mother and child-sometimes more difficult for the mother than the little ballerina! This act of the child entering the classroom without a parent and being able to shift their trust temporarily to the teacher helps enormously when it comes time to go school in a few years. The basic dynamics of any classroom environment include the ability to listen to the teacher, follow directions and acceptable social interaction with peers. The young dancer’s first dance class includes all of these elements, as well as teaching good posture, coordination, gross motor movement and above all else the love and joy of dance!

As the young dancer progresses in their studies they will encounter elements in dance that they will excel in easily, as well as areas of difficulty. Being able to work through these areas under the guidance of a dedicated and caring teacher will bring forth feelings of self-confidence and self-pride in their achievements.

A crucial part of every dancer’s education is an emphasis on strong basic technique. Learning basic techniques right from the start such as; developing core strength, proper posture and correct positioning in each movement will enable the dancer to progress at a faster rate. Many dancers and their parents mistakenly believe that the child should always be learning new and harder elements regardless of their current skills. The determination and perseverance that it takes to master the proper techniques at the beginning will not only benefit the dancer’s overall skills and abilities but also instill in them a strong work ethic and a constant demand for their best effort.

Academic education in this day and age mirrors many current trends in the adult work environment. One of which is the ability to work in teams. Group projects in school mirror team projects in the office. Here again is where a dance education is beneficial beyond the studio walls. Whether the dancer is a recreational student or an intensive/competitive one; all must work together for the good of the common goal. That goal could be the year end recital, a competition or any special performance where each individual dancer must put forth their best effort in order for the group to reach its potential success.  This learning experience is an important one for each child’s future life be it in dance or otherwise.

Lastly, discipline and dance training go hand in hand. This is oftenone of the hardest lessons for many children to learn. The amount of fun and enjoyment that they receive during their dance experience is directly related to the amount of discipline that they put into their training. The more they practice, persevere and take the time to learn from their mistakes; the more they will appreciate their achievements and successes in the long run. Often, children want to quit when things get tough; but it is our job as teachers and parents to help motivate them to see that it is by pursuing with disciplined effort their goals in dance, that they will learn to pursue with that same discipline all of their life’s goals.

 

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