As a kid I absolutely hated team sports. Instead of running towards the ball, I would run away from it! Needless to say, I was overjoyed when I discovered dance. The only dance that we did in gym class was square dancing. Aside from the awkwardness of having to dance with boys at that age (hello cooties), I loved it. Finally there was something in gym class that I wasn't utterly hopeless at! Our instructor, who happened to be a parent at the school and my mom's friend, convinced my parents to enroll me in a class at our local dance studio. I excelled at the hip hop class, and soon graduated to ballet, and then to modern dance. I continued dancing during my teens, and intermittently throughout my 20's. The benefits of dance were incredible, and I can honestly say that I wouldn't be the person I am today without it.
I decided to research the ways that dance can benefit kids, and the list is even bigger than I anticipated. Below are 10 reasons why you should consider enrolling your little ones in dance classes.
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1. It's a GREAT Aerobic Exercise: Anyone who has done a Contemporary Ballet class can attest to the fact that you build up a sweat pretty quickly! Not surprisingly, dance genres such as Ballet, Jazz, Modern Dance, Hip-Hop and Tap are all excellent forms of aerobic exercise. It's recommended that children and teens get 60 minutes of aerobic exercise daily to control weight, maintain cardiovascular health, and ensure optimal immune system functioning.
2. It Increases Flexibility: Most dance classes involve a lot of stretching, which improves overall flexibility. This is especially the case for ballet. I couldn't even touch my toes when I started ballet--6 months later I was doing the splits.
3. It Improves Muscle Tone: Most types of dances involve sustained postures--such as plies, balances, and extensions--that are great for building muscle tone. Furthermore, a lot of dance moves work the core muscles, which are essential for balance, coordination, and posture.
4. It Benefits Them Socially: Dance classes typically include 10-20 children. Therefore, it's a highly social activity. According to recent research, dance lessons improve childrens' social and communication skills and help them make friends .
5. It Teaches Teamwork: Dance studios generally host a year end show where the various classes perform a choreographed routine. This requires cooperation, trust, and the ability to work in unison with others. Therefore dance teaches kids teamwork, just like team sports--but in a less aggressive manner (there's no other "team" that they are trying to beat).
6. It Helps Them Overcome Stage Fright: Nothing will get rid of your child's fear of performing in front of an audience faster than having to dance on-stage.
7. It Sharpens Their Academic Skills: My grades went up after I started dance: I went from being a C+/B student to a straight-A Honor Roll student. Indeed, this is supported by research that shows that students enrolled in dance lessons have more impressive SAT scores and grades than their non-dancing counterparts. This is hardly surprising when you consider how much discipline, focus, dedication, and commitment dance requires.
8. It Teaches Kids Love and Respect for Their Bodies: As kids learn dance, they gain more awareness of their bodies. They discover all the amazing ways that they can move, and this instills a feeling of pride and confidence in themselves. It's especially important to instill Body Confidence in young girls, as they are increasingly at risk for developing body image disorders.
9. It Teaches Kids How to Manage Their Emotions: Dance is highly creative; it encourages children to express their emotions through movement. Therefore, it helps develop childrens' emotional maturity by both promoting emotional awareness, and providing a safe outlet for emotional release.
10. It Can Help Develop Musical Skills: Dance teaches rhythm, and having a great sense of rhythm will improve a child's ability to master a musical instrument.