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“I love dancing; my kids love to dance. I think it's just another way for children to learn they can be themselves.” - Josie Bissett
International Dance Day was introduced in 1982 by the International Dance Council (CID, Conseil International de la Danse), a UNESCO partner NGO, and is celebrated yearly, on April 29th.
Like all young children, my toddlers seem drawn to music, and from an early age, they would begin dancing whenever they heard any kind of music being played, from the dhol of the wedding baraats to Bollywood numbers to nursery rhymes in school!
I used to love watching them dance, and of course still do, and now my enjoyment is boosted by the fact that scientific research has repeatedly shown that not only does dance have numerous physical benefits for kids; it also brings social and emotional benefits.
Specifically for toddlers, dance teaches social skills such as cooperation and peer interaction as well as building self-esteem when they are involved in dance experiences. Here are a few more benefits of dancing for toddlers:-
1) Simply listening to music helps toddlers think and express themselves more creatively, a skill that’s sure to help our little ones in school.
2) Getting their groove on by dancing improves toddlers’ coordination and sense of how their bodies fit into their surroundings.
3) Toddler dancing helps set the stage for an active childhood filled with all types of movement.
And of course, here’s what we can do as parents to actively encourage this interest for music and dancing in our toddlers:-
- Toddlers respond best to music when they actively experience it.
- We can get them actively interested in music by getting them to do simple things like bouncing, marching and tapping to the beat of whatever music we play.
- There is no investment required into a surround sound music system; all that our toddlers need are some tunes and space to move! It could be just parents singing and clapping hands to the beat, that in itself is music for our toddlers!
- Toddlers love dancing with a partner, so we as parents can join in the fun! Our cool and not so cool dance moves are the best form of encouragement for our little dancers to just get up and dance!
I recently attended a Music Class at Gymboree Hyderabad, and I can honestly say that this was one the best toddler sessions that I’ve ever attended! In general, for my kids, Gymboree is their happy place. But this class they enjoyed more than usual. Gymboree’s music classes are designed to help children explore the power of rhythm, melody, tonality and beat while nurturing key physical, social and intellectual skills.
But most of all, they are all about the fun! This music class was conducted by Ms. Carling and my kids had a rocking time! From dancing with Hula Hoops to moving to the beats of various different musical instruments like the drums, the guitar, the flute, the tambourine, etc. to dancing with scarves and going around in circles, it was 60 minutes of pure fun and joy. My kids were disappointed when the class ended, they were having so much fun, and honestly, so was I, because I was having so much fun watching my kids having fun!
While there are not too many options available for toddler dancing in my city, but I’ve definitely made it a point to include music and dancing as a part of my kids daily ritual, something we look forward to in the evenings, when we can dance with each other and just squeal with delight. I look forward to the day when I can encourage their baby footsteps into the world of dance through active coaching, so that they don’t miss out on the fun of dancing and its many benefits!
Happy International Dance Day everyone!