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This is a two-part article on Movement and Dance with information, simple guides, and questions to help you include this valuable activity in your setting to promote child development.

Movement and Dance For Child Development

Movement and dance allow children to use their whole body as they explore movement and develop an awareness of their physical abilities during crucial child development stages. It is also unique as it is both very physical and expressive all at the same time. Movement is the fundamental means of human expression and physical child development.

It doesn’t cost anything to do as no equipment is needed apart from their own body (the instrument) and the area or space (the medium) in which they can move. This is incredible when you think of all the skills movement and dance promote in developing personal, social, and emotional development, critical thinking skills, and movement memory, that will help them in school and life.

Movement Memory: is the ability to copy, repeat and remember actions, phrases, and patterns. This starts with actions and rhymes with babies and progresses to a movement phrase or dance that lasts for several minutes.

Sadly, despite this, movement and dance are almost invisible if you compare them to the volume of music and other visual arts that are all around us through the medium of social media, TV, radio, art galleries, cinemas, magazines, advertisements and books.

Question: Have you researched the age-appropriate, opportunities in your local community for children to dance and watch dance?

 

The Art Of Expression During Child Development

Dance and movement are the universal language of communication. The way the body expresses our emotions and thoughts is critical as we read body language before we hear and listen to what is being said.  This is known as the ‘Communication Rule Theory’ (created by Professor Mehrabian and Morton Wiener in 1967).  The 3 C’s of communication are divided into spoken words, tone of voice, and body language.

The chart below shows how much we express our thoughts and emotions with our bodies.

The chart below shows how much we express our thoughts and emotions with our bodies

Question: Have you thought about how you express your emotions of happiness, excitement, anger, and sadness in your body movements?

 

Beyond Child Development - Movement and Dance is for ALL!

Everyone can move and dance no matter their needs and physical abilities. The biggest hindrance to children’s movement is adults. Adults, unconsciously, bring in their assumptions to the class of children’s abilities and potential. In our diverse population, it is also important to be sensitive to varied beliefs and attitudes about movement and dance as an activity for healthy child development in your setting.

Question: What are the obstacles to incorporating movement and dance in your setting and how can they be overcome?

With movement, some children may be anxious, or resistant and find it easier to work with adult support and guidance, while others are confident and self-assured. Our role is to facilitate and engage them in the activity.

If you are enthusiastic, having fun, and confident in your movement, this will encourage your children to become involved.  When they are involved, you are helping to nurture their physical, creative, imaginative, emotional, and cognitive skills.

By incorporating movement and dance in your setting, you are helping to prepare them to lead healthy, active lives and feel confident with the activities within the PE National Curriculum when they transition to primary school.

 

Cultural Exploration

All dance has a cultural context and can be explored with your children. Dance defines communities but can also bring them together through the universal non-verbal communication that is the language of dance and movement.

Question: Have you explored dance from different cultures and countries with your children?

 

What can our bodies do?

 Actions

Our bodies can Travel, Turn, Jump, Gesture and be Still. All children can join in all these activities with your assistance and adaption to their physical needs.

Travelling: The transfer of weight to move across space either by using our feet or other body parts.

Turning: The body rotates around an axis. It can be varied by the body shape, size of the rotation, use of feet, level, and speed.

Jumping: Leaving and landing on the floor and this can be done with different types of jumps.

Types of Jumps

One foot to the same foot, one foot to the other foot, both feet to both feet, one foot to both feet and both feet to one foot

Gesture:  Moving a part of a body that does not involve a transfer of or bearing of weight. This is used to communicate the meaning of the movement.

Stillness: The ability to control or stop a movement.

 

Dynamics

The qualities of movement and dance are known as the dynamics and how the body moves. This provides the colour and textures of a movement.  Laban’s analysis of movement has given us four elements.  Weight, space, time, and flow as every action the body does has energy, speed, and continuity.

 

Space

Where the body moves provides the visual design of dance. The use of space helps to communicate the meanings using shape, level, and air patterns.

 

Relationships

How we move and dance with each other varies from the simplest relationship of leading, following, copying, and mirroring to the complex use of counterpoint.

Now we know what the body is capable of, we are ready to create and move and dance together.

 

In Part 2 of this article, I will cover movement and dance as an ‘Art’ model and how you can incorporate this in your setting for ALL children.

Explore some of our other blogs on child development below!

Child development: brain foods for children

Supporting child development

About the author:

Gina is a dynamic and accomplished educator with a rich background in movement and dance. Initially trained in ballet, she has dedicated the past 27 years to imparting her passion for movement and dance across various educational settings, ranging from mainstream to early years and SEND environments, as well as esteemed dance schools.

About the author:

Gina is a dynamic and accomplished educator with a rich background in movement and dance. Initially trained in ballet, she has dedicated the past 27 years to imparting her passion for movement and dance across various educational settings, ranging from mainstream to early years and SEND environments, as well as esteemed dance schools.

About the author:

Gina is a dynamic and accomplished educator with a rich background in movement and dance. Initially trained in ballet, she has dedicated the past 27 years to imparting her passion for movement and dance across various educational settings, ranging from mainstream to early years and SEND environments, as well as esteemed dance schools.

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