There are the many clear benefits of studying dance; reduced obesity risk, it is a fun way to exercise, maintain or gain a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and importantly helping to maintain a balanced lifestyle.
There is clinically significant evidence that children who participate actively in the performing arts (dance and theatre arts) spend less time sitting in front of a computer screen playing games and therefore are at less of a risk of developing health problems. Children who spend more than two hours a day on screen related pastimes are at a high risk of developing health issues, such as obesity.
Creativity is developed
Whilst dance is a good source of fun exercise for young children and a way to train physically for older children and teenagers, it is also a creative outlet. It is part of a balanced lifestyle – exercise and movement is important, and encouraged good nutrition, so is the chance to release creativity for the development of healthy children. Creativity is a key life skills they will learn.
Mental well being and confidence
Dancing can make a person (of any age) feel physically refreshed and improve their mood. This goes a long way to help prevent and also tackle serious issues including anxiety and depression. As fun as dancing in our bedrooms is, dancing with a team or group dancing is a tool to release daily stress, a distraction from everyday worries and an outlet for imagination and emotion. A chance to switch off from school and use our energy in a useful and creative way.
It’s not just adults that need to be concerned about their fitness and physical wellbeing. Dance has enormous benefits such as helping children develop a greater range of movement whilst developing the ability to work within different spaces. They learn to interpret the effect their movement has on the world around them. Dancing also improves a child’s co-ordination, especially at a time when they are rapidly developing in an ever-changing and evolving environment. Good co-ordination is vital in developing skills learned in other parts of life, such as learning to ride a bike and learning how to multitask successfully. Dance and movement patterns also develop kinaesthetic memory. It also develops strength and endurance from an early age. This creates a solid platform for the child’s physical development and level of fitness.
Young children are naturally active, however dancing makes use of more of these muscles and in turn develops the use of their bodies fully. Through the process of learning movement, children become more aware of their bodies and what they are capable of. They develop an understanding of what each muscle and limb can do; also building up the courage to experiment with movement and to push themselves to see what they can achieve with their own bodies. This personal sense of adventure is an important life trait for children to develop and a skill they can apply in all aspects of life. It contributes to the development of a child’s confidence and bravery, and encourages them to search for new challenges to conquer.
Learning to socialise with others from a young age is a vital part of a child’s cognitive development. The ability to express emotion comfortably in front of others shows mental maturity and learning to do so through movement and dance provides a safe gateway for young children to explore. Performing arts activities bring together children from a variety of backgrounds and personalities; creating an environment outside of the habitat a child is accustomed to. Children are forced to learn to adapt and communicate in new ways. By navigating this new environment through creativity, children learn to build trust and effective relationships.
Being part of a group activity, such as learning a dance routine, promotes the importance of teamwork and develops the ability to work successfully in a group environment. The process also helps a child learn patience, listening and leadership skills as they start to help each other with learning and practicing the steps. They also learn to accept vulnerability; that it is okay not to be able to do everything first time and that you should feel confident enough to ask for help, either from the teacher or from another student.
Nonverbal communication represents two thirds of all communication. It’s important for young children to understand that it is possible to portray a message both verbally and with the correct body signals and also to be able to interpret these signals from other people. The study of dance and movement can help a child develop an understanding of their own body language as well as others. Whilst it is relatively simple to express without words straightforward emotions such as ‘happy’ and ‘sad’, the study of dance can teach a child how to express physically more complex emotions and how to read and react when someone else is physically emoting.