The importance of Dance in Education
By Sabine Howe, Physical Education Specialist
Learning, thought, creativity, and intelligence don’t just come from the brain alone, but from the entire body. Movement combinations increase memory, order, and sequencing skills. Creating dances also increases self-esteem which is so very important to learning. We already witness the need for children to move throughout the day. Having experienced first hand the positive effects that music and dance have on students’ development, I feel it is important for dance to be included in all elementary (and secondary) curricula.
There are so many reasons why dance is important to the health and development of our young people. Above all, children need to move! Any way to get kids moving on their feet is a must (especially in a digital era). Dance burns calories, strengthens muscles, improves balance, increases flexibility, and gives the heart a good workout. Dance has also been proven to increase cognitive development. Current research documents the importance of exercise on the brain and supports what dancers have always known – the body and mind are connected in vital ways.
Utilizing dance in academics also helps children develop skills that are necessary for learning such as creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. Through the creative process, students are encouraged to use their imagination, collaborate with their peers to solve problems, and discover multiple solutions to challenges.
It is because of these reasons that I have chosen to incorporate music and dance into every PE program here at MCS. The elders are so happy to hear fun music and move their bodies! I have found that they learn steps and rhythms extremely quickly. By the time the children get to Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and then to the Adolescent Community, although their taste in music might change, they are still incredibly happy to move their feet. Also, their repertoire of dance numbers is quite amazing! Some children chose to create their own dances, and this is always a joy to watch. My hope is that all of our children and young adults never lose their desire to play music and just dance!