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The Importance of Play in Pre-School Dance

posted Aug 23, 2015, 8:17 AM by Warwick Varney   [ updated Aug 23, 2015, 9:19 AM ]

Parachute Play in Pre-School Dance

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of play when it comes to dance for pre-schoolers.  Too many parents expect their little ones to take dance class and straight away begin the path to becoming a prima ballerina; learning ballet positions, correct poise and turnout from the youngest age.  We consider dance an education, just like learning in a formal schooling setting.  In the 3-5 pre-school age range many kids attend pre-school or play group, where almost without exception the emphasis is on learning through play.  Whether it's songs we sing to learn the alphabet, or learning to count by playing with blocks, kids of a young age learn most when playing and interacting with their immediate surroundings.

So it should be with dance.  Yes, we want them to learn rhythm and technique and dance choreography, but at the pre-school age they still need to learn about themselves, their little bodies, and what they're capable of.  Until you get to know all your fingers, limbs, joints and their ranges of motion, you're not going to know how to put all those parts together into graceful movements.  That's why we "play" with things like the parachute.  Just by doing simple activities like bouncing balls around and moving the parachute in different ways, kids learn - albeit subconsciously - about things like cause and effect (if you lift the parachute up the balls roll away), working together as a team (if you all walk the same direction the parachute and the people sitting in it will rotate), and timing (if we all lift the parachute up at the same time it will float in the air).

The short video shows a selection of parachute activities from one of our recent Princess Parties.  If kids have fun while learning, they'll want to come back to have more fun (and learn dance as a welcome consequence!).  And that sums up our pre-school teaching philosophy at the Academy of Dance.