Little Steps Make Big Steps
Hannah and I have had lots of fun this term trying to hone our toddler teaching skills. Recently, we have had the wonderful pleasure of teaching tiny people from babies to tots each week in Reigate Priory Park. These sessions have been free to all who attend and come rain or shine we are greeted by eager faces who cannot wait to wiggle and groove and of course belt out ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen. What has been amazing to witness is the fast progress these tiny people have made, stronger on their feet, better balance, improved coordination and gained confidence in expressing and sharing ideas for role play and creative play.
It’s free, so I hear you asking the question what does Star Steppers get out of it? Well I cannot deny Hannah and I love the cuddles we receive and the tiny hand that finds its way into our palms fills us with a warming love and the cheeky smiles that often meet our stressed and tired faces make us laugh. Hannah and I have learnt that yes the practice of teaching traditional nursery rhymes has its place but children already know those tunes and have actually taught us the actions (we are now professionals at performing nursery rhymes and I am sure that one day this will come in useful when faced with the role of entertaining our own children!!) Children love modern, upbeat pop songs whether it’s Taylor Swift ‘Shake it Off’ that they love shaking to or singing a lovely Disney song, holding a pretend microphone and performing like a pop star. Their little faces light up and awaken, they are completely engaged in the activity and one of our favourite lines we hear is ‘My mum has that song in the car, I know this one’ and we know that when driving home and the radio is on playing Taylor Swift ‘Shake it Off’ further learning is taking place and being embedded in these young minds. However the main reward is seeing the benefit dance, singing and drama has on the lives of little people and we strongly feel that this should be an opportunity experienced by all willing tots.
Even though as Head of Performing Arts at a Pre-Prep School working with Nursery children to Key Stage 1, I observed first-hand the benefits creative subjects had on the academic learning of young people, the experience of seeing the benefits of dance, drama and singing out of the school environment is over whelming. If you don’t believe me please read the following research taken from the National Dance Education Organisation…
“Dance is pre-verbal, beginning before words can be formed. Children possess the natural, spontaneous ability to move and dance before they have command over language and is stimulated when thoughts or emotions are too powerful for words to contain.”
“Children move naturally. They move to achieve mobility, they move to express a thought or feeling, and they move because it is joyful and feels wonderful.”
“Dance is a natural method for learning. Children learn movement patterns as readily as they learn language.”
“Dance is a powerful ally for developing many of the attributes of a growing child. Dance helps children mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively.”
“Physical Development: Dance involves a greater range of motion, coordination, strength and endurance than most other physical activities. This is accomplished through movement patterns that teach coordination and kinaesthetic memory. Young children are naturally active, but dance offers an avenue to expand movement possibilities and skills.”
“Emotional Maturity: Dance promotes psychological health and maturity. Children enjoy the opportunity to express their emotions and become aware of themselves and others through creative movement.”
“Social Awareness: Children learn to communicate ideas to others through the real and immediate mode of body movement. Children quickly learn to work within a group dynamic.”
“Cognitive Development: Young children will create movement spontaneously when presented with movement ideas or problems that can be solved with movement response. Movement provides the cognitive loop between the idea, problem, or intent and the outcome or solution. This teaches an infant, child and, ultimately, adult to function in and understand the world.”
Please visit http://www.ndeo.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=893257&module_id=55419 regarding this research and for more information.
So Hannah and I have found our method; fun, upbeat, energetic, engaging classes but we are not going to give all the answers away in this blog so please do visit our toddler classes to wiggle and groove with us soon.