This morning I was thinking about the 4-year-olds in the movement class I teach at a Preschool. They come to class so excited to dance and move, I can’t help but marvel at their collective enthusiasm for dance.
Circle time is first, where seated on the floor we greet each other and discuss what type of behavior is appropriate for dance class. Some kids have a tough time sitting still and paying attention because they just want to move!
When we stand up to stretch and dance, I must make sure each child has plenty of room to move because initially, arms and legs go every which way in pure, joyful movement.
I stand back and watch this moment because after many years of teaching in this manner I know that next I will witness interaction among the children – fleeting eye contact that morphs into a gaze that morphs into a longer gaze that ultimately morphs into interacting through movement. These little beings are telling me, without any words, they are ready for structure, for ritual, for a meaningful experience that is delivered in their native language – Movement.
Simple, choreographed movements provide a consistent, predictable, structured environment in which children can blossom. When specific movement patterns are repeated over time, they become first, familiar, and eventually, automatic, providing physical and neurological stimulation that helps create pathways to higher brain levels where academic learning occurs.
Each week, I leave my class feeling as though I’ve just been to a magic show. The amazing job that movement does developing the brain is just one piece of the pie. Having the opportunity to watch these creatures grow, develop self-confidence, communication, and socialization skills, take chances, and take ownership of their skills is nothing short of an amazing gift.
To my incredible students at Spuyten Duyvil Preschool in the Boogie-down Bronx – I love dancing with you and watching you grow! Thank you.