My son, who just turned 4 last month, has been in dance class since the ripe old age of 2.5. His mom (that’s me) danced growing up, and so did his father for a few years. In fact, it is because of dance that his father and I met. It’s kind of one of those fairy tale stories where we both auditioned for a community theater show, we were partnered as dance partners and the rest is history. Now, a marriage, a house, 2 dogs, and 2 kids later, my son is dancing. Even with all that background and the fact that boys in dance is far more mainstream than it ever was when I was young, I know that there is still a lot of resistance. So I thought I’d bring to light why I put my son in dance.
The Social Aspect
My son never went to day care. We are lucky that my husband and I work opposite schedules, so generally one of us is home with the kids. This means that in his early years, my son didn’t have a lot of kids playmates. None of my friends had kids his age and he had one cousin a year younger than him. Dance once a week gave him the opportunity to socialize with other kids his age without mom and dad around. He had one hour a week in a structured environment with kids his age to dance and run around and tumble. This definitely benefited his ability to interact with kids his age, get exposure to a class type of environment, and learn to behave around adults that aren’t family. It noticeably helped when he started preschool a few mornings a week this year. Additionally, dance can help alleviate a child’s fear of performing in front of others. This is especially helpful for shy kids.
Dancing requires several things of kids, even at a young age. They practice memorization as they learn a new dance. They learn how to learn. They learn about working hard to achieve a goal, the value of practicing, and the importance of discipline and focus. Children who dance are known to perform better in school. They tend to have better SAT scores and even perform better in math and science. I know this proved to be true in my own life where I received full scholarships to high school and college and ended up majoring in mathematics.
Dance is a great form of exercise. It improves cardiovascular health and muscle tone. For young kids, it can increase flexibility and provide greater self awareness. Young kids often lack control of their bodies because they just don’t have the practice of using their bodies yet. Toddlers can learn how to control their bodies and develop spacial awareness. Dance can correct posture, increase balance, and increase stamina. Dance can be just as physically beneficial for kids as sports, if not more so since dance can be started at a younger age.
Here is the main reason that I put my son in dance: he loves to dance. I teach dance and I would always bring Tyler with me while I taught. He loved listening to the music and trying to do the dance that I was teaching. He has always loved music and he was singing musical theater songs since he was 2 years old. He would even create his own dances to perform. He especially loves tap; he’s a boy who loves to make noise. Dancing is fun and makes him happy. If he ever stops wanting to dance, then he can stop. At this point, however, he loves spending time with his friends and dancing to fun music.
There are tons of other benefits of dance for all people, but especially kids. You can read about them here, here, and here. Dance is an important part of our family, and my 9 month old daughter is already on her way to being a dancer as well. Her face lights up when she hears music and she starts waving her arms like crazy. However, dance has so many benefits that it should not be limited to girls. My son may not grow up to be a dancer, but he is learning so much and he actually enjoys learning. I have a kid who actually likes to learn; what more could a mom want?