Dance in early childhood education

Almost everyone who has read a book with a toddler knows that it is not just a listening experience. The child makes noises, moves, points, wiggles, laughs and gets involved. Young children are very open to learning with all their senses and experiencing life. Parents, teachers and families who capitalize on this unique time understand that dance in early childhood education is much more that just moving about.

Body awareness

Self awareness and body awareness are very closely related. It is important that children recognize differences in personalities and bodies. If they come to appreciate that everyone is different and learn to respect those differences, they will be more successful. Children will create a healthy self esteem and respect for others as well.


It’s true. Children today are using less imagination. Things are so laid out for them that they have almost lost the skill of pretending. Dance gives them an opportunity to explore things they don’t understand and use their imagination to come to a conclusion.

Here is the scenario. The music is playing and the teacher is talking. The children are marching along and teacher is guiding them through the imaginary location. They come to a river and they can not swim across it. One child must decide how they can get across. (Thinking music can be playing.) Once the child decides busy music plays as they construct a bridge, flap their wings to get ready for take off or what ever procedure they need to complete. Triumphant music as they cross the river and then right back to the marching song. Yes, it’s dancing.

Large muscle skills

There are times when children really don’t get all the exercise and physical activity that they need. Dancing can help supplement other activities. Dancing is simply moving to music. You can work in any kind of exercise into your dancing and music time.


Show me what the wind looks like. Now think about that. But on different tempos of music and see if what the wind looks like changes. In the creativity area, it is best to observe instead of direct. So just stick with the first instructions and watch them create.

Following directions

A child who can follow simple directions is the dream of every parent and teacher. It won’t happen every time, but with positive reinforcement it will happen more often than not. So give the directions. If there are some who are lingering, repeat the directions with this phrase added “We will begin when…” It is amazing how well this works and transfers from one activity to the next.

Cadence and rhythm

Reading skills build with cadence and rhythm. Many of the books and poetry children relate to early on and use them as building blocks have a very strong pattern. This will help the child as they learn about syllables and other patterns in when reading.

Social skills

Dancing should be fun and social. Sometimes children will have to wait their turn. They will learn to be aware of those around them. There may even be dances where they bow to left and bow to the right!


Balance does not come naturally to everyone. However, with practise everyone can improve balancing skills. So standing on one foot and changing to the other every time the music shifts can be dancing and practising balancing skills.

Math skills

“Everyone clap three times. Now everyone clap two times. Put it altogether and now you are doing the five clap dance. ” In dance students can stand up and sit down to show math skills. Really, the only limits are the imaginations of the teachers and children.

So when you see children dancing at preschool, remember there is really much more going on. It might to everyone a little good to turn on the tunes and wiggle till you giggle.