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Dancing can make your little one think about balancing, moving, and shaking all at the same time. It requires mental concentration and active participation. As your little one dances, he hears the music, moves around and plans what to do next; he is not only developing his gross motor skills, but also his thinking skills.
The development of your little one’s musical skills and dancing moves can start very early on. From his first reactions when hearing music, up until when he actually claps his hands in response to the rhythm; but these skills go to a whole new level when he finally gives his first steps. This is a great time to have a bonding experience with him too.
From his first until his second birthday, your child is still working on his dance skills. His dance moves may only consist of him bobbing up and down with his feet planted on the ground. Nearing his second birthday, you will notice that he now incorporates the arms in his new moves. He’ll have so much fun!
Keep fostering it! You can add dancing to your morning routine, or even do it as an alternative activity during a rainy day when you can’t go outside to play. This will help him later in life as he learns to improve his coordination, build his spatial awareness skills, and plan new ways to move his body, which also gives him a sense of accomplishment.
What comes next?
Later on, around his third birthday, dance can even be a sway, a twirl, or a jiggle! Your child is learning about himself and the world around him through movement, which brings experimentation and discovery. Dancing is also an art form, so, when combined with your little one dancing freely to the music, it will also promote creativity and self-expression; and if he is following your moves, you’re even fostering his imitation skills.
Little by little, the random movements of your child and the spontaneous swaying and bouncing to the music will develop into the more dance-like movements of your three-year-old. He is now motivated to dance, although his movements are not always coordinated to the music playing. Remember there’s not a right way to dance with your little one, it’s about expressing himself and having fun.
Thus a steady beat, rhythm, or overall musical effect may still not be accurately connected to his body movements, he is moving closer to coordinating his actions with the music. Dancing can impact your little one in many ways, so here’s a list of the benefits of dancing in each area of development:
- Social and emotional: Your little one wants to dance with a partner or an audience. It promotes social interaction and cooperation. He will communicate with you through dance and the movements of his body. It is an excellent outlet to express emotions and feelings, and it enables your little one to be aware of himself in a particular music-filled space. Higher self-esteem can also develop after accomplishing new moves.
- Cognitive: Dance develops the brain and teaches your child to think about the different ways in which he will move his body. You have to give him tools to help him be successful with it. Play different music, provide props and become a dance partner yourself. He will be delighted to isolate body parts, change directions and levels, explore each part’s range of motion, and increase his abilities. He’ll experiment with every trick on the book.
- Physical: Dance requires your little one to expand his range of motion and use every part of his body. It includes fine and gross motor skills, as well as spatial awareness, while also improving coordination. It can also expand its benefits to flexibility, posture, weight control, and stamina. You will see how, little by little, he will be able to dance for 45 minutes! Follow his cues and play different music genres until you find the one that inspires him the most.
What can you do to amplify the benefits?
- Sing a song that dictates and describes the moves. This is a great exercise to promote problem-solving skills since your child thinks on which direction to sway, shake, swing, and dance. This simple activity also fosters the development of imagination and self-expression. He might still have difficulty understanding that a relationship exists between the sounds he hears and what his muscles can do. To unlock creativity, play with music and movement.
- Present a challenge or question to which there are many possible ways your little can respond by moving his body. For example, “Can you move your legs to this song?” or “Can you twirl right after me?”
Dance helps your child grow physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. Many parents can see how dance enhances their child’s physical skills, but are less familiar with how dance develops other skills. Take a moment to dance with your little one! A little sway goes a long way.
Your child will strengthen several skills while working together with his dance partner (that’s you!). Dancing together provides a fun and beneficial bonding experience. Enjoy yourself while you spend quality time with your little one!