Its fun to watch my kids 'dance talk' over Katy Perry's 'Roar'. Moves are discussed, plays enacted and a lot of 'Let's do this ' or 'You bend and then I'll hold you'. They tell their own stories, create their own theatre and have fun all round. They collaborate, they synchronise and they discuss. Sometimes they fight, but the music binds them.Dance and music are so universal and primal like that other great form of expression, art. The power of dance and music are in the movement and the rhythm. Children are natural dancers and singers who will move to the beat and belt a song out when they can. Dance,therefore, becomes a medium for learning through the senses. Children can understand abstract concepts like joy or letting go when they dance. It is a critical element in the pre-verbal stage.Dance helps children understand that they have 'inner joy' and gives them a means to express it. As children grow and learn words, the dance helps in a better understanding of the words and aids in learning.
Dance helps children develop a sense of balance, coordination, strength, and endurance. A more exciting and fun way of keeping fit and explore the many capacities of their body and the space it inhabits. It is a great way for children to express their feelings creatively; dance is a team sport which enables its participants to learn to cooperate and coordinate. The children's cognitive growth expands exponentially when they dance. Dance is pre-learned vocabulary which means many different things to different children.Christian Robinson, the illustrator of The Last Stop On Market Street and Leo The Ghost, explores what dance means to children in this wonderful video.
Similarly, music 'the food of the Gods' is also a key part of a child's psyche. Nursery rhymes are a child's first exposure to learning music.The patterns and rhythms endear themselves to children. Mothers sing soothing lullabies and put their babes to sleep. Music has the power to awaken the child's soul, stir their feelings, calm them or excite them. Never a dull moment when you put a child and music together.Like dance, music helps children learn better, express themselves better, and understand rhythm and synchronisation. Be it marching music, pop stars or grandma singing a song from her youth - music helps enrich the child's learning landscape.
In yet another wonderful animation Christian Robinson, this one about music, children discuss what music means to them, try to guess some musical greats and state their favourite genres of music.
The introduction of music, dance and all the arts is mission critical for children. Families can help children experience the arts by keeping time aside to attend music concerts, dance performances, and theatre recitals.Children can then be encouraged to put up performances, with family members attending. Parents can print out tickets, program sheets, and posters. Do remember applause is a must for budding young performers. Claps, stomps, and hurrahs!William Stafford, the American poet was spot on, when he said:
Kids: They dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music