Only a couple of weeks now and for the majority of children it is ‘Back to School’. For most children this is an exciting prospect and for me the thrill of a new pencil case was almost too much as a child! However, for a number of children it is a daunting and anxious time. I was fortunate – on the first day of ‘big school’ an assembly was held to welcome us all and offer the choice of several after school clubs. These varied from chess club to football, from knitting to drama. However, one in particular caught my attention immediately – DANCE!
It would only be as an adult that I recognised the significance and value of attending such a varied and worthwhile activity.
As children we all have a natural sense of rhythm and instinctively know how to move our bodies in time to music. It makes perfect sense that we should nurture this gift at an early age as to do so provides so many benefits in other aspects of our lives.
We all know the importance of keeping fit and a healthy lifestyle. Dance is a great form of exercise, and when reinforced at school with other key topics such as human biology and healthy eating, children learn how to be healthy, and more importantly want to remain healthy. Of course a healthy and active child makes for a great student. It has been proven that exercise increases energy levels and a child’s concentration span. This is a welcome addition for all teachers and can aid the childs studies in literacy and numeracy or with perhaps some of their ‘weaker’ subjects.
Other life skills that a performance led dance workshop may encourage are those skills such as team building and cooperation. When working towards a big performance at the end of a rehearsed routine, children have to learn to listen to each other and work together both on and off stage. These lessons the children can carry throughout life, and the type of dance whether it be street dance or a number from a West End musical, all offer the same values.
An after school dance club may not be the only way to provide such a fundamental confidence builder. Dance can also underpin knowledge in other subjects, such as geography, history and religious education. Many schools study themed weeks throughout the academic year, including foreign countries & cultures and significant periods in history. Take the graceful and ancient dance form of Kathak. This is a type of dance that originated in the Hindu temples of Northern India and covers many curriculum subjects when delivered in the correct manner. You could even take native dance styles such as Flamenco, Salsa or even Morris dancing to bring different countries unique cultures to life for children.
Most importantly for me though, dance provided me with a sense of belonging and an opportunity to meet new friends with a common interest at an early age!