Learning to dance at any age has many benefits, both physical and emotional. But, especially for children, dancing contributes to their development through movement, connecting to music, and using imagination. Dance classes for kids are a great idea for children of any age.
There is no “perfect” age to introduce your child to dance. Many people falsely believe that for a child to become a dancer, you must have the child begin to dance at an early age as a preschooler, but you don’t. Children of all ages can learn and enjoy dancing. It is true that some dances fit better with certain age groups. For instance, you wouldn’t want to have preschoolers try to learn a dance that is strictly choreographed with specific steps that need to be learned because it goes beyond their capabilities. Those types of dances are better experienced at a little older age. And, simply moving willy-nilly to music without some defined steps wouldn’t keep an eleven-year-old interested. Dances like hip hop and jazz fit well with older children as they begin to develop their own styles of dancing.
At Fred Astaire, we have social and ballroom dance classes for kids. We love teaching dance to children. They are blank slates and are ready for learning. Let’s look at different kinds of dance that are particularly well-suited for children at certain ages.
Benefits of Dance
It’s important to understand why dance is such a good activity that promotes health, emotional, and social well-being. So, we wanted to start off with the benefits of dancing at any age, regardless of whether a toddler or an adult!
Physical Health Benefits
Dancing improves your health as an adult and, as a child, develops critical motor skills. In general, dance has these physical health benefits:
- Increased muscular strength, endurance, and fitness
- Better coordination
- Better agility
- Better flexibility
- Healthy blood pressure
- Improved overall balance
- Improved spatial awareness
Other Health Benefits
- Increased overall physical confidence
- Greater self-confidence
- Greater self-esteem
- Improved mental dexterity
- Better social skills
Benefits for Children
- Physical development: Dance involves a greater range of motion, coordination, strength and endurance than most other physical activities
- Emotional maturity: Dance promotes psychological health and maturity
- Social awareness: Dance encourages social encounter, interaction, and cooperation with others.
- Cognitive development: Young children primarily learn through physical and sensory experiences, which dance and movement provides.
- Communication skills: Bringing children together with songs, rhymes, and actions helps them discover how to interact and connect with others, which develops listening and social skills
Dance for Toddlers
Children move naturally and when their movement becomes consciously structured with music, it becomes dance. As anyone knows who has been around a toddler for any length of time, they are in constant movement! A typical toddler knows how to move to music and has rhythm. This is a great time in the child’s development to channel some energy and create a path to fun through dance. Toddlers (from 18 months to 3 years) can grow by having fun and developing new skills at the same time. The toddler can learn to interact with others and follow directions. At this stage, just get children together to move with the music and have fun!
Dance for Preschoolers
Preschoolers (age 3 to 5) are at the right age to learn new things like sounds, words, and patterns through music. Using dance can be a great way for preschoolers to explore and control body movements, which are great activities for development and stimulate connections in the growing brain. It cultivates communication skills by listening to instructions from a leader. It helps them learn skills like balance, control, and coordination. And, most importantly, music and dance contribute to creativity and imagination. All of these benefits can help prepare them for school. At this age, moving to music with some basic instructions provides an environment that is beneficial and fun!
Dance for Middle Childhood
Middle childhood includes kids from 6 to 11 years of age. During these years, a child develops confidence in the ability to meet the challenges in his/her life. They gain a sense of personal power from having successful experiences in solving problems and being creative. Children from 6 to 8 have different capabilities than the older children in this group. At age 6 to 8 children are able to begin learning dance with steps and defined styles like ballet, tap, and even ballroom. These dances involve movement combinations that build strength in the legs and feet and increase flexibility in the hips, knees, and ankles. They provide a group environment where the children learn to follow instructions and develop a sense of discipline through learning new positions and steps–not to mention learning coordination, balance, and how to control their bodies in motion.
As children move into the 8 to 11 years of age, they begin to develop preferences in their styles of dance. Dances like jazz and hip-hop involve high energy with big movements that are perfect for this age group. They involve technical skills while incorporating improvisation and free movement so the child can express him/herself. Jazz can take some time to master and often children start with ballet before moving into jazz, but it isn’t necessary. Hip-hop is fun and inventive, and it is performed to popular music that the child may know. Children may get excited about learning steps they see hip-hop dancers perform on television. Another style of dance that can interest children this age is ballroom dancing. Ballroom requires learning specific steps and choreography that is very challenging. Some children will adapt quickly to this style and others may not. Ballroom dancing includes a variety of dances that can address many different interests. Giving children all their options is the best way to find the perfect style for them.
Dance for Teenagers
If a child has been studying and participating in dance classes in earlier years, he/she may want to continue developing skills in that dance as a teenager. Or, it can be a good time to progress to another style of dance. Dances that are done individually, although with a group choreography, are ballet, jazz, tap, and hip-hop. The teenager learns the routine and everyone has to be on the same steps at the same time. However, ballroom dancing involves dancing with a partner, which adds another dynamic. Some of the best ballroom dances to start with are Rumba, Foxtrot, Swing, Cha-Cha, and Salsa. These dances can be learned earlier than in the teenage years if the child shows an interest and propensity for the dance. Opportunities for moving into competitive dance training abound for children who are interested. And, of course, it has to be fun! This is a great time to enroll them in group classes or private instruction at Fred Astaire Studios.
Get Your Child Dancing at Fred Astaire Durham
Regardless of whether your child is new to ballroom dancing or just wants to switch studios, they’ll love Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Durham! We can help develop a program for your child that meets your schedule and goals to ensure your child has a positive, fun experience learning dance! Give us a call at (919) 489-4313 or fill out the contact form below to schedule their first lesson! Check out our calendar for group classes.