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The Benefits of Dance in Early Childhood

By : A.A Diah Cahaya Dewi

What is dance? Why dance? In children, it is a way in which they learn about their bodies and how its different parts can move. Dancing involves the muscles, joints bones, the ear, not to mention the heart; these are just the biological parts involved. The psyche plays a role in dance too. By dancing, children learn coordination and body control, and develop muscle strength and spatial awareness.

Children should start learning about dance and their bodies from the exercises that is closer to the ground and then work their way up. Music and movement in daily lessons can include nursery rhymes, singing, doing movements, playing musical instruments, and also dancing. From the name itself, “music” and “movement” should be carried out together and not be separated. Children may attain basic motor skills development through different types of physical activities or educational programs which are given to them, such as dancing or music and movement. Any physical education program for young children should be accompanied by music and rhythms. It attracts and amuses children more rather than giving children some common and basic physical activities. Kenney (1997) said that rhythms for locomotor skills are carried in the music itself. These locomotor skills include walking, running, and hopping. Children can express all of these skills in music and sound.

To help children relate to how their bodies move and work, improvisation is a good idea to use in dance class and it has no set patterns or standard. Improvisation is an informal type of dance from which comes the basic creative dance. This type of dancing gives children the freedom to express themselves in a way other than speaking. Sign language, as well as creative dance uses movements to convey meaning. Elizabeth R. Hayes (1964) stated that dance is “much more than basic movement; and it is essential for class work to be extended to the point of providing students with actual dance experience” (pp. 4-5). Creativity is the ability of a person to use imagination to construct something original and unique. In dance, the creative process takes place when the children use their creativity to make movements that may or may not flow with the music. The essence is the children expressing themselves through movements. Using imagination to create movement in children is the key to success and happiness in life. On the other hand, a child’s imagination should be encouraged to grow and help students be problem solvers as well as intelligent young scholars.

Dance is a wonderful experience for school-aged children because it involves important learning strategies which the children develop as they become ready to accept challenges. Dance also involves human contact and is a lifelong activity that can bring people of all ages together. Creative dance helps people to express themselves in ways other than through speaking. Hagood (2001), believes that dance education is the most important art that schools need to develop. Dance can be so many things to different people including a source of happiness and good health; it can also be a hobby or a profession. But perhaps the most important thing of all is that creative dance helps children understand and express themselves.


Elizabeth R. Hayes. (1964). The teaching of dance. New York: The Ronald Press Company.

Edwards, C. P. & K. Springate. (1995). Encouraging creativity in early childhood classrooms. (ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary

and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL)

Hagood, T. K. (2001). Dance to read or dance-to-dance. Arts Education Policy Review, 102(5), 27-30.

Kenney, S. (1997). Music in the developmentally appropriate integrated curriculum. In C. Hart, D. Burts, and R. Charlesworth

(Eds.), Integrated curriculum and developmentally appropriate practice: Birth to age eight (pp. 103-144). Albany: SUNY


Pangrazi, R. P. (1981). Movement in early childhood and primary education. Minneapolis: Burgress Pub.Co.

Stinson, S. W. (1990). Design for arts in education. Dance Education in Early Childhood, 91(6), 34-41.

Sherman, N. W. (2000). Increasing children’s physical activity levels. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance.

Wiener, J. & Lidstone, J. (1969). Creative movement for children. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 222.


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