Category Archives: preschool dance

Posts dedicated to preschool dance and movement – giving you ideas, the benefits, what to look for and how to help them improve

The value of Preschool Ballet

This blog will look at why it’s important for you to see value in your child’s pre-ballet and beginning ballet classes.

You have LOTS of options for extracurricular activities these days, even for pre-school aged children and younger! While at a young age, most extracurricular activities provide a lot of the same benefits to children (social interaction, following instructions, etc.), but our preschool ballet programme is designed to offer something a little extra special

  • We run our preschool sessions on a theme – The Nutcracker or Cinderella or the Enchanted Forest and so we hold short, 5-10 minute parent observations at the end of every block of sessions
  • Each new theme will include a small parent information pack with our objectives – including what your child will be working on in class as well as one or two activities you can practice with your  child at home. This allows you to have some fun dance time together at home and also let you see the progress your child is making.
  • It may seem like there isn’t a lot of technique – but this is by design. They will learn all the basics for their age and appropriate dance level, and we gradually introduce the correct terms and develop their technique once we have the basics – we don’t want any overwhelm!
  • It is more than just becoming a ballet dancer. Children a learning so much more than helps them OUTSIDE of ballet: interacting with other children, making friends, taking turns, following instructions, and working hard toward a goal, just to name a few.
  • We have themed sticker charts and certificates for students at the end of each session – so you can see what they have achieved and also lets our amazing students show their progress. It gives them something to be proud of.

So why not book a place on our next course – January will see us follow the classical ballet Cinderella – 2pm Mondays at Church of the Ascension

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Ballet Benefits for Pre-schoolers!

Most of us started dancing simply because we loved it. But did you know ballet provides more benefits to children than just joy of movement?

Our Monday Preschool Ballet class (2pm at Church of the Ascension, Kenton) is not only full of fun but has some fantastic benefits for your children!

  1. Ballet classes will stretch a child’s imagination as they dance the roles of different characters in ballet class. Ballet is telling stories through movement – which is why our preschool classes are based on some classic Ballets and full of story and movement.
  2. Ballet keeps children moving, which is important and beneficial to the growth and development of their bodies. It helps them to stay active, release extra energy, improve muscle development, core strength and balance, flexibility and joint mobility. It also increases cardiovascular and overall health.
  3. It relieves stress. Yes, even young children can be stressed. Dance boosts endorphins and has a meditative quality. It’s even been called “moving meditation”! (Adults – you can come dance away the stress to with our dance fitness classes!)
  4. Dancing doesn’t just exercise the body; it also exercises the brain! Ballet classes use a lot of classical music, as well as some popular tracks and nursery rhymes. This mix of music challenges the brain and improves memory and interpretation
  5. Ballet is good for self-esteem and confidence. Aside from learning new skills and improving their ability – the small achievements we celebrate each week are a great way to encourage your child to continue to work and develop each week
  6. Even small children begin to learn self-discipline as they learn to follow directions and to try their best in class. From waiting their turn for demonstration, to teamwork, and positioning – all of these small parts of class encourage this strong sense of discipline.
  7. It’s fun! Children get to act out roles as they are dancing. Who doesn’t want to be a fairy, a prince, a Nutcracker or forest animals!

 

Fun, games, and dance

Dance classes should be purely dance technique and practice?

Yes and No

It depends on the class – is it a technique based class or exam prep? Is it in the run up to a big event or showcase? Is it the first week back after summer? Do we have a lot of new students? Do we need ideas.

Dance class should always be fun, challenging, but always fun. And most of the time this will come through from the dance itself – the enjoyment of practicing your favourite steps or new routines, or perfecting old ones.

Sometimes though, there is room for change….

Games in class

Introducing games into class may seem a little strange – but we aren’t talking about a round of football or snakes and ladders.

Games can be extremely beneficial to a class in many different ways – so long as they are used appropriately.

Warm ups

Fun ways to warm up for a Freestyle class or a cardio based class – may be a twist on the game or tag or even traveling relays (instead of running try skipping, jetes, leaps, turns). It ensures that the part at the start that gets them ready to move is effective. Boring will result in a lack of effort and then not being warm enough for mobility exercises.

Characters

Getting into character when performing can be hard – so introducing something like charades is a good way to bring shy children out of their shell and get them to use their body and facial expressions to show emotion or ideas.

Acting out things, places, films, also gets them to think about using their body in different ways.

Social

It brings the team together – so many times dance is a solo routine (for exams for example) or you part in a specific piece, where you dance with a set team, time again. Team games brings everyone together in a different activity where dance ability is not key. It allows more experienced dancers to help new members, you become friends with your new team, and encourage and help those who you perhaps don’t normally work with.

Creativity

It frees the mind – playing traveling games or aversion games, charades, makes you thing about movement in new ways to normal in class. Dodging a “tag” may give you ideas on sharp turns, quick movement or use of space. Not talking means you have to use different ways to express ideas and new arm movements or postures may come to mind.

It lets your mind free itself from the constraints of “dance steps” and lets you think outside the box

FUN

It is fun, which is the aim especially for our little ones. They need the time to explore ideas, their bodies, their abilities, to make friends and interact.

Yes there is an element of competiton – but healthy competition, where they strive to be THEIR BEST, not necessarily THE BEST.

 

Early Years Dance

The Benefits of Dance for children

There are many clubs and activities available for children – right from pre-school age to teenagers – so why choose dance? What are the benefits of dance to a child – aside from it being a fun activity?

Physical Development

The youngest are taught basic steps and creative movement in class which creates the lovely performances we see at the end of term. However it goes a little further it helps children to understand how to move safely and imaginatively with bodily control, co-ordination, flexibility and balance. It helps improve spatial awareness and promotes a greater range of motion. Dance is an activity that offers a greater range of motion, co-ordination, strength, and endurance than most other physical activities – it incorporates the full body and so is great for total body fitness and as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Creative Development

Dance is more than physical exercise – it is allows ideas to be communicated through physical actions and promotes non-verbal communication via movement and expression. It helps children to use their imagination to create ideas, characters and narratives which helps in their cognitive development.

Personal, Social, and Emotional Development

Dance is social – whether performing along or in a team – it involves other people – both as observers and participants. It encourages children to become more social, to develop trust in others and interacting in new social situations. It encourages them to work alone, in partners or small teams and as part of a large group – increasing the range of social and group dynamics that they are exposed to. It helps them to decide how to use movement alone and with others both to explore their feelings and share their views.

The range of music available and the people the children meet will allow them to explore new cultures, ideas, beliefs, and increase their understanding of the world around them. This taken with accepting the moral code of the group – generally an open welcome to all people regardless of race, gender, ability or beliefs encourages open mindedness.

Communication Development

Dance is non-verbal but uses both music with and without words. It helps children to understand expression through music, noise, rhythm as well as words, text, rhyme and stories. Ballet allows exploration of stories through music and mime, tap incorporates rhythm to express emotion, street dance expresses its history and the musicality of songs.

It allows children to develop their skills in negotiation and conversational skills in both taking instruction and working to develop their own ideas. It builds skills in observations and appreciation through talking about their own performance as well as others.

Dance is based on learning – kinaesthetic learning with understanding of physical and sensory experiences, develops and understanding that language and movement is intertwined so promoting sensory awareness, cognition, and consciousness.

Why let your child dance?

Dance classes are not just about the kicks, turns, and routines. They have so many more benefits for your child than just the obvious “be a better dancer”. I recently read the book ‘Partnering Dance and Education’ by Judith Lynne Hanna. Though written in 1999 – it still has some important points that are relevant today.

Why learning dance is valuable

  1. Dance aids the development of “kinesthetic intelligence” – what is that you may ask. Basically it is the capacity to manipulate or handle objects well, and use a variety of physical skills. Being able to move better and with more freedom and skill is a benefit we all should welcome.
  2. It creates opportunities for self-expression and communication – it helps with their emotional development, and gives them an outlet for emotions when words cannot.
  3. It teaches creativity, problem solving, risk taking, making judgements outside of “normal life” and higher order thinking. It’s thinking outside the box, being open to new ideas and thought – from problem solving as a pre-schooler to helping with exam essays in key stage 3.
  4. It fosters an individual’s ability to better interpret interpersonal nonverbal communication. To read peoples body language, to understand emotions without being told – developing their empathy.
  5. It develops a respect for other cultures and times – be it classical ballet or modern hip hop, African dance or interpretive contemporary. It teaches appreciation of all things, even if its not “their cup of tea!”
  6. It enhances their quality of life – mental, physical and emotionally, not just when they are dancing, but the health and enjoyment it has provided long term.
  7. Its good physical exercise – it gets them moving from a young age, it teaches them to appreciate their health and their bodies, a good school will instill the values of not just rehearsal but nutrition and rest.

Join us

We’d love to welcome your children to our classes (or you to our adult dance fitness classes with www.projectfitablous.co.uk) so why not get in touch to see if we are a right fit for you?

Or simply chat with us 07969125975 and see if we can direct you to some helpful resources.