If you know me (or my blog) well, you know that I am the biggest advocate for early childhood dance education. I mean, seriously, it’s all I talk and think about. It’s a major part of my life and I don’t think of it as work, just as a way to share my passion with young children. That’s how it should be right? Below, I try to put into words WHY I think dance matters. Here goes:
Dance supports role models: Young children need role models, they really do. This is why a child almost once a day asked me where my tutu is. They want me to be one of them, not just because I am fun or cool, but because I model someone positive in their life. One time a mom said she over heard her 3 year old talking to other 3 year olds all in my ballet class. The conversation went like this:
Child one: “Miss Maria says I am a great dancer.” Child two: “Miss Maria says I am such a beautiful dancer.” Child three: “Miss Maria says I should keep on dancing.”
The mom said that dance class is building confidence in these girls and boys like no other place. They truly believe that they are awesome at dancing. I see that as being a good role model. Don’t you?
What an awesome compliment to carry on my shoulders.
Dance brings shy turtles out of their shells: So many times I have seen dance class bring littles out of their shell. On the first day, they won’t come into the room and by the last day of class they are standing front and center. What brings them out of their shell? The comfort, the praise, the repetition, and the love. I know that if a student is still a shy turtle at the end of a semester, I haven’t done my job successfully. Dance and movement is natural for littles, just add a little patience and understanding and in no time I have a classroom full of shell-less turtles!
Dance gives brain power: What I can’t understand is why so many arts programs are being cut, even with all the proof that the arts educates the whole body, gives brain power, gives kinesthetic awareness, and helps with child development. I see myself someday as a huge advocate on the national scale (read: my husband wants to be in politics – eek!) for arts education. What an important platform.
While doing research for fall teaching, I found this awesome article about how a child’s brain grows. She sums it up so much better than I ever could, and surprise (!) she has a heading in their about WHY MOVEMENT MATTERS! Yessss!
Dance makes me happy: No doubt that having a desk job would be easier on my life, my finances, and my work/life balance but I just don’t want it. I can’t imagine sitting at a desk all day (no offense to those who do). If I have a day off, I can’t enjoy it, I’m not happy unless I teach a dance class. It’s a part of my identity and when I’m without it I have no idea what to do with myself. Really, it’s not such a bad problem to have.