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Child Development: Movement is a wonderful way of developing your children’s communication skills and enhancing their vocabulary. When they engage in movement, they encounter a plethora of 'delicious' descriptive words that relate to actions, sensations, and emotions. These words then become part of their active vocabulary and enhance their communication skills - the language opportunities are endless. 

Words like 'twirl,' 'stretch,' 'leap,' and 'glide' are tricky words to understand. However if you combine the words with the embodied experience of doing, this then becomes kinaesthetic learning which helps to anchor language in real-life experiences, making it meaningful and memorable for your little ones.   

Additionally, movement activities provide you with extra opportunities to use positional language in a practical context. Using words and phrases like 'over', 'under', 'around', and “through” take on real significance as your little ones move their bodies around objects and each other.  This not only reinforces their understanding of prepositions but also helps them grasp complex spatial concepts in a fun and playful way.  

Fostering Social Skills Through Dance And Play

Beyond the development of vocabulary, the act of moving and dancing in a shared space requires negotiation, anticipation, and reaction to others’ movements. These are also critical communication skills. Your little ones are learning to observe and interpret non-verbal clues, predict outcomes, and adapt their movements in response, which are the foundations for effective interpersonal communication.  

When you incorporate stories and guided role-play into the movement activities, you are creating an environment where you can further enhance their vocabulary and communication skills. The children’s role-play helps them to sequence events, use narrative language, and explore emotions which deepens their comprehension and expression skills. 

Child Development Emotional Expression Through Movement

Movement and dance are a multifaceted tool for communication in child development. It is a playful and fun way to enrich their vocabulary and help them to understand language in context. And it gets better - just think of all the health benefits for your children when you get them moving and dancing. 

Listed below are just some of the ways movement and dance help your little ones develop the foundations of effective communication. 

  • Non-verbal communication: It helps your little ones to express themselves before they can fully use words. Through gestures, facial expressions, and body movements, they are learning to convey emotions, needs and responses to others.  
  • Listening and following directions: Participating in these activities requires your little ones to listen to instructions and follow directions. Whether it is moving to the music, stopping, or changing direction. This not only improves their listening skills but helps them to better understand the concept of following verbal instructions. 
  • Social interaction: It is often a social/group activity which will encourage your little ones to interact with their peers and adults. Through these interactions, they learn social cues such as taking turns, mirroring actions, and responding to the movement of others.   
  • Vocabulary expansion: Songs and rhymes associated with movement introduce new words and concepts for your little ones and are a wonderful way of enriching their vocabulary and understanding of language, aiding in more effective communication. 
  • Emotional expression and understanding: It allows your little ones to explore different ways of expressing their emotions. Expressing emotions is a crucial aspect of communication and embodying emotions through dance and movement, helps your little ones better recognise and articulate their feelings and those of others. 
  • Rhythm and language patterns: Dancing and moving to music involves rhythm, which mirrors the patterns found in language. Understanding and feeling rhythm can enhance your little one’s ability to detect patterns in language, aiding in the development of their speech and eventually reading skills.  
  • Confidence and self-expression: As your little ones become more comfortable with dance and movement, they often experience an increase in self-esteem and well-being due to the release of endorphins through the exercise of dancing and moving.  A confident child is more likely to participate in social interactions, ask questions, and express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.  

Don’t forget that improved motor skills and coordination lead to better writing and the ability to engage in other activities that support learning, communication and overall child development. 

Incorporating dance and movement into your little one’s daily activities is not only fun but an important and effective way to help support their overall development, especially with communication. Whether it’s through a guided role-play activity to just popping on their favourite piece of music and letting the rhythm take them away, the benefits are extensive and best of all, FUN!

How will you use movement in your setting to enhance communication and vocabulary? Here is a super simple, fun and engaging activity to get you started. 

What do I need? Space to move, music and a selection of their favourite storybooks. 

How do I do it? Choose a story together. Sit and read the story with your little ones. Every time an action word or phrase comes up, stand up and act it out together. For example, if the story involves jumping in puddles encourage your children to jump in the puddles as well.  

The key is to introduce as many descriptive words for the movements as you guide them in their creative role-play. An example of descriptive words you could use for jumping in puddles. 

These words not only describe the action of jumping in puddles but also evoke the sensory experiences associated with it, enhancing the learning process for your little ones. Have lots of fun exploring language that describes the movement, feeling, sensation, and deliciousness of all these words for child development.

Take a look at some of Gina Bale's child development blogs here:

Child Development: Dance and Movement Part 1
Child Development: Dance And Movement Part 2

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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