When thinking about education, topics such as literacy and numeracy spring to mind. The first thought is not always dance. However, in an early childhood education setting, dance can have many benefits for a child.
When children are dancing this will usually involve music. Every song, rhyme or tune has a beat and children can count to this. This is a simple way to help children to learn to count and also to learn about number patterns from an early age.
The topic of literacy encompasses many different skills including writing, reading and talking. If dancing to music the children may have the opportunity to also sing. The lyrics may teach them new words thus enhancing their vocabulary. Dance can also provide children with the opportunity to talk about they have learned or enjoyed from their experiences. These can also be written about. If the children cannot yet write, a helper or support worker can support them in relaying their experiences in written form.
Dance is an activity that can be done both independently and in groups. When working in groups children are presented with a variety of situations when they get to talk, listen, present ideas, lead others, take turns, work independently and play an active role in teamwork. These are all important social skills that can be further developed and are important in their future for both work and social situations.
One of the most obvious benefits of using dance in early childhood education is that it will help children to develop their physical skills. These can generally be divided into two groups; gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Predominantly, it is the gross motor skills that will be developed the most through dance. Children will learn about coordination, rhythm and balance. Fine motor skills can also be enhanced with smaller movements or when using physical objects as part of the activity.
Most children find dancing fun. If a child has fun with their education it encourages learning and can influence their view of educational experiences form a young age. Children who find early education fun are more likely to be receptive to other learning opportunities and to go on to enjoy the rest of their education. If children have enjoyed their dance activities it is possible that they will want to have more of these experiences and sign up for dance lessons in their social time.
Dance is an opportunity to introduce basic concepts relating to health. Even young children can be taught the importance of exercise as an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Dance activities in an educational setting can encourage children to participate in physical activities at home or in their social groups and this will benefit their health from an early age.
Dancing is fun but it also has many other benefits to children when it is included in activities in early childhood education. It can support the development of literacy and numeracy, enhance social skills and play an important part in the health and physical development of a child