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Child Development: Dance and Movement are ingrained in our being and are how we express our emotions ranging from how we walk to simply swaying or tapping our toes to the music. We all do it!

Let’s encourage our little ones to build their confidence and resilience and support their emotional well-being through a fun, creative activity. Best of all, you don’t need to be a movement teacher or dance specialist to provide your little ones with a wonderful experience of dance and movement to develop their creativity and curiosity.

To help you incorporate dance as an expressive art (‘Art’ model) in your setting, or at home, for all ages here is a superfast guide to help you encourage your children to engage with dance, movement and help support child development.

Child Development Dance And Movement Educators’ Guide 

Dance as an ‘Art’ model is made up of three strands. These strands are composing, performing, and appreciating. In simpler terms, make, do, and discuss.

As educators, it is important to take the time to facilitate opportunities for child development and the children to experience these strands by giving them the time and space they need, to engage with movement and music as they wish.

Strand 1: Composing (Make)

Composing dance through imagination, exploration (improvising), problem-solving, decision-making, and creating a movement vocabulary.

In Practice

Put on some music but ensure you are giving them opportunities to hear all genres of music ranging from classical to contemporary. Observe and reflect on your children’s responses as this will help you provide them with child-led learning opportunities and experiences.

Strand 2: Performing (Do)

Performing allows the children to express themselves and their emotions through movement and dance in their unique way.

In Practice:
Just let them move showing you, and each other, their ideas of how to move with the music. It may range from just swaying to the music to a choreographic masterpiece.

Strand 3: Appreciating (Discuss)

Appreciating each other's dance helps the children to observe, reflect, compare, contrast, and evaluate.

In Practice:
Chat with your children about the music, how it made them feel, and how their movements express their feelings. Encourage your children to repeat their favourite moves for you and respond to their creativity and self-expression. Their creativity and self-expression give you an insight into their thoughts and experiences.

When facilitating dance and movement with your children, it is important to ensure you are using a theme, or music that engages them. Observing your children will help you to consider movement aims to extend their learning. It is important to remember that whatever you set out to achieve needs to be adaptable to allow the children to lead the activity.

“For young children to have an individual response it’s important you do not have a set goal. Children need their contributions to be noticed and valued so they build confidence and resilience. Give children enough space and time to experience and explore.” GOV.UK Help for Early Years Providers

Facilitating Dance and Movement: The Top 5 Tips

1: Movement Aims

What movements can you explore with your children? What are they interested in today, and how can you use that information to extend their learning?

In Practice:
If your children are dinosaur-obsessed why not look at all the different dinosaurs and talk about how they moved? Did they run, hop, jump, roll, wriggle, shake, and stomp?

2: Warm-up

Introduce the activity, and theme, while warming up their bodies so they are ready to move and have fun.

In Practice:
Pop on some music and have fun practising your different dinosaur moves. Incorporate your movement aims in the warm-up as this reinforces learning and helps develop myelin in the brain.

3: Exploration

Encourage your children to discover new ways of moving and problem-solving as they explore solutions to movement problems. Exploration extends their movement vocabulary.

In Practice:
Encourage your children to be different species of dinosaurs and ask them to show you how they moved. Pop on some music and you can ask them if they think this is the right music for their species of dinosaur if it isn’t, which species would like it and how would they move? Add obstacles ranging from, puddles to tunnels, for them to move over, under, and around. This encourages their exploration of movement through problem-solving. You could also have a selection of musical instruments in the room that they could incorporate into the activity. For example, they could become a Cryolophosaurus also known as the Elvisaurus and become a rock star dancing on stage with their guitar. Enjoy the fun of exploration and creativity together. Remember if you are having fun, they will as well.

4: Composing

This is working together or solo to create a sequence of movements that make a dance. Encourage the children to consider new combinations of movements that you explored together.

In Practice:
Exploration and composing will be side-by-side for your little ones. As they are exploring, they are composing. As they create a sequence of movements, they develop critical thinking skills, movement memory, and vocabulary. Why not create a ‘Movement Vocabulary’ poster of the different moves their body, and dinosaurs, can make?

5: Appreciation

Time to observe and reflect on each other’s creations and the aims of the session.

In Practice:
Encourage your children to demonstrate their creations as this helps them to feel seen and valued. Give them feedback on their movements, creativity, and musicality as dance and movement can help children build their confidence and resilience.

Words of advice

Have fun! Enjoy the music, the movements and your children’s creativity as there is no limit to their learning through imagination and fun. And the bonus… just think of all those opportunities for child development and to develop their communication and language skills as they explore movement. Discover more next month.

Take a look at Gina's other Child Development blogs in this serires here:

Child Development: Dance and Movement Part 1

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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