Why Dance is an Essential Skill for Growing Up
When people first find out that I’m a dance teacher and a mother, one of the first things they ask is: “Do your kids dance?” Well, of course they do! But few people actually know WHY they dance. Do I put them in dance classes so that they could one day follow in their parents’ footsteps and become Professional dancers? Or is it just where they naturally ended up because they’ve been born and bred into the dance world all their lives?
First of all, let’s get real! I’m an Asian parent. There’s no way that my dream career for my child would be a dance teacher! 😀 Dance teachers don’t put their kids in dance to make it a career or do it “by accident”. We consciously put our kids in dance because we recognize the many benefits and how these skills and experiences can be used in the real world.
Although the reasons are many, here are my TOP 5 reasons for putting my kids into dance:
- Dance teaches them the direct correlation between hard work, perseverance and results. Can I touch my toes yet? No, because I haven’t practiced enough. Will I be able to do it eventually? Yes. I’m getting closer and closer to the floor every time I stretch. The more I practice, the closer to my goal I’ll get.
- Dance trains kids to have good posture and carriage wherever they go. I remember walking into a store at the mall with Joel one day, and the store clerk asked us, “Are you dancers?” Even if they didn’t realize it consciously, they could see right away that how we walked and how smoothly we transferred our weight from foot to foot was different from the rest. Good posture breeds confidence and presentability for future job searches, and even first impressions for meeting friends, partners and/or colleagues.Furthermore, I can’t tell you how many teenagers I’ve seen walk around dragging their feet and slouching! Of course, it’s in large part due to the awkward adolescent years and going through puberty. However, if your kid is constantly being trained to stand tall in their dance classes, they will be less likely to fall into the self-conscious “ashamed of my growing body” self-image that so many youngsters go through.
- Ballroom dancing in particular encourages kids to work with the opposite gender. During the elementary school ages, the only time boys and girls ever work together is at school. From my experience, there aren’t many co-ed playdates. My girls in particular, only request playdates with other girls, hardly ever with boys. If you look out onto the school playground after school, as stereotypical as it sounds, the boys are playing sports with the boys and the girls are on the monkey-bars with the girls (with few exceptions).
Even team sports are often separated by gender… and for good reason. Boys are typically bigger, faster and more aggressive than the girls. When they are playing sports together (even in PE), there is quite a discrepancy in how they play. At least for my girls, who have slight bodies and are not very aggressive, they are no match for the boys. But in ballroom dancing, all genders are seen as equals. They are each an important half of the partnership. They work on their individual technique and try to match their speed and energy instead of overpowering each other.
- Ballroom dancing in particular teaches responsibility and teamwork. When working so closely with one another, often with body contact, you need to be on the same page! You have to be responsible for knowing your own steps, knowing what direction you’re doing them in, and knowing how it relates to the music and each other. You also need to connect and communicate with each other in order to move as one. Ballroom dancing, at any age in fact, is the ultimate challenge in cooperation, patience and respect.
Trust me, after dancing with my husband and partner for over 20 years, arguments on chores or child care are not much of a challenge! We’ve had plenty of practice problem solving and working together as a team. Just imagine how much better than us our kids will be if they are equipped with the skills and experience of collaboration from when they are young. Our sincere hope is that ballroom dancing will help them develop healthy relationships in their futures.
- Dance is one of the best ways to train the body and the brain. This last point is for dance in general and at any age. Dance is not only a whole body workout, but a whole BRAIN workout! Many studies have shown that ballroom dancing in particular stimulates multiple parts of the brain all at the same time. We have to use executive functioning to plan what to do, strategize how to get around the floor, adapt to music and other people on the floor and coordinate all of those thoughts with our body actions.
Joel and I were watching a workshop for physical trainers in which the instructor broke down physical skills to its individual components and then progressively made them more complicated. It was interesting to see that these physical trainers (many of whom train athletes and are athletes themselves) were unable to do the more complex skills that were given to them. At the end of the seminar, the instructor said that in all his years of teaching, there was only one student who was able to do all the skills from beginning to end… and you guessed it… it was a dancer!
I can’t stress enough that dancing is a great activity for kids. It teaches them essential skills that they need for life! It teaches them hard work, dedication, responsibility and teamwork, and at the same time gets them ready for those adolescent years when they start interacting awkwardly with different genders.
If your child is between the ages of 6-10 yrs old, consider putting them into dance classes! Our Kids Ballroom Dance Class starts in April at RainCity Dance. Sign up now!
If for whatever reason, you are not able to make it to central Vancouver on Sunday afternoons, we have wonderful colleagues who run classes in Richmond and Burnaby. Please contact us for more information, as we’d be happy to pass more information along to get your child dancing!