Time and time again, I hear people ask, "Aren't they too young to be dancing?" The truth is, as long as you find age appropriate dance classes, no. The ability to start dancing develops in children before they can even form words! (Click here to see a fun example.) Dance is a primal part of human experience across all cultures and time periods that unites us all no matter our age. The benefits it has on early childhood development is definitely worth understanding.
Physical development is one of the most obvious benefits dance classes have for children. They are learning a great range of motion, body awareness, balance, muscle strength, coordination, and endurance. Movement patterns require the child to use their entire body to reach a level of fitness that is unparalleled by other activities. Through dance classes, kids begin to understand that the possibilities of movement are endless and fun to explore.
In dance classes, children have the opportunity to learn in a comfortable social setting. They must take turns, work as a group, cooperate, share, understand space, form lines, watch and support one another, perform, and interact. They learn that communication can occur through immediate and effective movement to express an idea. The group dynamic in dance classes also challenges young ones to respect others as they share and move through space in unison. Many times you will see a very strong bond between dancers because of these efforts no matter how old they are.
At a young age, children understand that movement can be used as a response to an idea or problem. This creates a cognitive link to a solution or outcome. This type of cognitive development creates an awareness of how to function in the world. For example, it is very common in dance classes for children to be taught to leap over a "river" (scarf or mat) so they don't get wet. This idea achieves several different concepts... leg extension, transferring weight, problem solving, imagination, balance, space recognition, etc. The idea is that physical expression or solutions give young ones another way to handle the world while their verbal communication develops.
Because dancing is also an art form, children are learning how to creatively express their emotions as well. There are endless opportunities to share and be aware of various emotions as students experience one another and themselves through movement. Dance classes provide a structured outlet for a healthy physical and emotional release that helps devolop emotional maturity.
Scientific research has barely tapped in to the benefits of dance classes for early childhood development. I think we can all agree by saying that they are definitely not harmful. Well, unless you are involved in something like the show, "Dance Moms"... but that's a different blog post. Stay tuned!
Dance has always been an area where I find inspiration. Not just for myself, but for those around me. Whether it be the young dancers I am teaching, the siblings of those dancers, or someone in the crowd at a dance performance. I have often seen parents get inspired by their young dancers, but not have any idea of where to start class or whether or not their is even an option out there for them to take dance classes.
Nowadays, there are a MULTITUDE of options for anyone interested in trying a dance class. It is actually one of my favorite things about dancing...there is something out there for everyone! There are your traditional styles such as ballet, tap and jazz. as well as hip hop, contemporary, and ballroom (just to name a few!) There is absolutely NO need to feel left out! Best of all, these dance classes are offered for both children AND adults!
I often hear the following comments from parents with regards to adult dance classes:
‘I’ve never danced a day in my life!’ or ‘I’m a parent! I’m too old to start dance lessons at my age!’
Some adults will sit back and stay seated because they think its inappropriate to take a class for themselves; that their focus should be solely on providing dance classes for their young dancers. While this is a wonderful outlook and providing outlets for our children is extremely important, I am a big believer that happy parents make happy children. By providing yourself with a form of expression, fun or exercise (whichever is your motivation) you’ll be elevating your own personal happiness which will help you be a happier parent for your child!
So as an adult, how do you find a dance class that will fit you? Below are a few key points
- Location - find a dance class that is close to your home or your work! As an adult with a multitude of responsibilities, proximity is often the BEST answer. If something is too far away (even if its just 15 minutes) we have the likelihood of losing the motivation to go!
- Class type - as mentioned above, their are TONS of options for class type. Whether you’re looking for something technical like a jazz or ballet class, more cardio based like Cardio Hip Hop dance classes or Zumba, something to do with your significant other like ballroom, OR something to do WITH your child like a YOU&me class, their is an option for you! So take the time to consider what you’re really looking to get out of your class! (Click here to find a YOU&me class near you!)
- Schedule - check the schedule of classes offered at your location. Do they offer classes that fit into your own personal schedule? Or do they conflict with other obligations for work, home, and kids? Again, choosing a class that doesn’t feel like or a chore, or one that is rushed will help you stick with it longer! And the longer you participate the more benefits (such as coordination, flexibility, and higher energy levels) you’ll get out of it!
Getting involved in dance classes as an adult, especially as parents, may help inspire (or re-inspire) your own child! If they have never had exposure to dance, your participation and enjoyment in classes may spark them to want to try a class of their own, and if they’ve been bored with their current dance classes this may give them the extra push to find their own passion and love for dance again. Dance can inspire both younger and older generations! It knows no boundaries or limitations!
As a parent, there is a fine line of how hard to push your child with an activity. If you burn them out, they might drop a great talent or interest because it just isn't fun anymore. If you don't teach them dedication, they may not understand that we must work hard to be good at something. Here is some advice to help you walk this tightrope when it comes to dance lessons.
First and foremost, we must understand that dance lessons can be a fun and artistic outlet or they can be more for sport and serious development. Ideally, the combination of both if what truely develops a young dancer. Dancing is a mixure of creativity and athleticism that takes time and patience to really excel in. It is also something that is universally in every culture and most social celebrations. To be skilled in this art is something anyone can use for the rest of their life. The longer someone sticks with good dance lessons, the more confidence, flexibility, body awareness, and great moves they will have!
So how do we maintain inspiration? Easy! Dance is contagious! Here are 12 ideas:
-Make sure they are in the right class in the first place. They need to like the style and teacher. If not, try something new!
-Look up some youtube videos that pertain to your dancer and the style they like. Here are
some great examples.
-Take pictures or videos of them dancing in class to show them after.
-Give them performance opportunities if they get excited about showing off. (At home in front of family or friends, dance recitals, school talent shows, home videos, etc)
-Bring a friend to a dance lesson one day if your studio allows it.
-Take them to a dance show! (On a budget? Youth dance companies often do affordable performances throught the year.)
-Watch a dance inspired movie! (Happy Feet is great for younger kids, but the list is endless!)
-Allow them to bond with their teacher and classmates so they get excited to see them week after week.
-Take a break from dance lessons for a season if needed to rejevenute.
-If your dancer normally takes ballet, take a different style such as hip hop over the summer.
-Ask your dancer to show you what they've learned after class.
-Show off some new dance clothes! Click here for a 10% off code for Discount Dance Supply.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to inspire your child to stick with their dance lessons. They are much more likely to develop the valuable life skills that come with dancing if they are having fun and getting excited about it. If for some reason, dance lessons just aren't for them anymore, casually move on to something else. As long as there is no pressure, they might get back into it one day!
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Whether you're a toddler who is just starting to grasp the idea of dance or you are a veteran dancer who wants to continue with the practice of dance...finding Chicago dance classes can be hard! There are a lot of things to look for and a lot that we forget to look for. Here are some tools to help you find the Chicago dance class that's right for you!
Location! No one wants to drive or take public transportation to a studio that's nowhere near you. You want to be able to find a class that is closeby and convenient. When you're searching for classes, do a search by your zip code instead of just a general Chicago search. This will help to narrow down the hundreds of Chicago dance classes offered throughout the city.
Class Type! While a lot of people simply want to take a class that they have never taken, many will have a specific dance class in mind. If you are looking for a specific class, you need to make sure that the studio you are researching offers it. Don't waste your time trying out a studio that doesn't offer what you want. You need to find the Chicago dance class that's good for you.
Class Schedule! Every studio has a set class schedule. The most frustrating thing can be to find a studio that is nearby you that only offers the class you want while you're at work...no help at all! Always look over the studio's class schedule before committing.
Teachers! Teachers make or break a class. When it comes to younger children, a bubbly, trained, experienced instructor is always great! For more adult classes, make sure that the teacher has credibility and experience working with adults. Adults need to be aware of injuries and no one wants to be injured because the teacher was inexperienced.
Customer Service! Some studios have a front desk staff while others are managed by one person or use a 3rd party vendors space. Whatever the situation is, the customer service should always be great. The studio should be communicative and helpful. If you call a studio and they don't know half of the answers to your questions, more than likely that is not the Chicago dance class location for you.
Finding a Chicago dance class that suits your needs can be like finding a needle in a haystack if you're unaware of what to look for. Take the time to pick a class that is good for you. Don't be intimidated...you deserve to have the best class possible!
A How To Guide On Choosing A Dance Class For Your Child
You’ve done the legwork and found a studio(s) that offers dance classes at a location that is convenient for you, as well as a schedule that provides variety and growth opportunities for your child. (See here for our discussion on how to choose a studio.) After deciding which San Diego dance studio fits yours and your child’s needs, the next step is choosing what class(es) to enroll your child in. A lot of parents will ask their child’s current teacher, which I believe is a wonderful way to start as they are a vital resource! But if this is your child’s first dance class you may not have that resource to rely on. Many of the questions I’ve often heard parents ask are:
- Should I start solely with ballet classes?
- How will tap dance lessons add to my child’s development?
- Is hip hop appropriate at my child’s age? (see here for our discussion on age appropriate hip hop classes)
- My child is high energy, will ballet suit them? My child is quiet, will hip hop suit them?
All of these are wonderful questions to ask and the answer will depend based upon your child’s age as well as their individual interests. For tiny tot dance classes (ages 2-5), enrolling them in any dance class will prove to be beneficial for them. It will teach them basic motor skills and instill confidence, as well as help them learn classroom etiquette (listening, waiting their turn, etc.). I always strongly urge parents to start with ballet, as it is a strong basis for all other dance classes, and if possible look into tap dance lessons or a combination class where their child can receive both ballet and tap in one dance class.
Once your child gets a little older and their individual personalities start to shape, they will be able to vocalize where their interests are, and whether they would like to try something new. Trying something new is often a great way to refocus a child that has become bored with one particular style of dance. It also gives them opportunities to explore and develop new strengths!
No matter what dance style your child tries (and remember to try and take more than one!), the important thing is to get them into a class to try it out! Some San Diego dance studios offer free trial classes! If this is an option at your studio I strongly recommend it. Often the best way to figure out what class your child will like is to dive into a class and get firsthand experience! Remember that it will take a couple of classes for your child to get used to the structure of the class, so stay with it and potentially try a different teacher if the first class wasn’t a huge success.
Any form of dance will increase confidence, coordination, balance, and flexibility. So get your child up and ready for a San Diego dance class...no matter the style!