April 3, 2019

TURN IT UP TINYS: The Benefits Of Starting Your Toddler In Dance

By: Elizabeth Girczyc

If you have been on social media lately, then I’m sure you’ve seen adorable videos of toddlers dancing along to music videos or breaking it down on the dance floor.  It is important to recognize how the love of dance is impacting the super youngin’s now-a-days.  Turn It Up Dance Challenge wanted to give these little dancers a place where they can come and show off their moves. NEW THIS SEASONwe added the Tiny Age Category for dancers who are five-years-old or younger.  We did some digging and talked with Studio Directors about the pros and cons of putting your tiny tot in dance. Whether it be physically, psychologically, or socially, research and moms agree on how beneficial dance education can be in a child’s early years!

One of the most obvious benefits for starting your toddler in dance is the physical activity.  Dancing helps them learn range of motion, balance, and coordination while also strengthening their muscles.  Breaking it down on the dance floor also allows your child to have better flexibility and posture.   Dance stretches way beyond the physical aspect; it also works out the m i n d.  This gives toddlers a platform to use their imagination and fosters self-expression.  Often teachers ask the dancers to picture themselves in a rainstorm or being stuck in quicksand, and then to move to the music as if they were really in those situations.  According to an article published by Huggies, when toddlers dance to music it stimulates neural pathways associated with abstract thinking, empathy, and even mathematics. The article goes on to further say that pairing movement with music helps children’s muscle memory, attention to patterns and flair for language.

TURN IT OUT Dance Academy’s Tiny Group Performance

Dance doesn’t just work out the mind but benefits it in other ways too! According an article written by Sir Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica, dance can help restore joy and stability in troubled lives. Basically, dance class gives children a safe place to escape to express their f e e l i n g s. These studies have also shown that dance can help reduce anxiety, depression, and daily stresses.

Last, but certainly not least, a BIG benefit to starting your toddler in dance is the social aspect that comes with it.  Dance gives your toddler the opportunity to be with other children their age and gain relationships outside of their home.  As their dance classes become their second home, this will help with their confidence and ability to express their emotions in front of others.  Dance class will introduce adult relationships to your tiny dancer that aren’t family members.  Teachers know that this relationship between them and the student helps toddlers learn cooperation, respect and discipline at a young age.

Wanting to learn firsthand about these benefits, we spoke to parents whose toddlers competed on the TURN IT UP STAGE in the past.  We talked to Kelly Nelms, the director of Aspirations Dance Company, who says her daughter Lola was “legit dancing in the womb” as she took and taught classes while she was pregnant.  Officially, Lola started competing in dance at the age of three and Kelly said starting her so young has allowed her to have technique beyond her years.  It has also taught her to be strong, follow directions, get along with others and prepare her for the world.”  She often gets praises from other parents for her daughter’s ability to listen and take direction.

Angelina, a young dancer from Encore Dance Academy , also started competing at the age of three with a candy themed solo. Angelina’s mother & studio director, Lauren Robbins, wanted to get her use to the stage at a young age so she would feel more comfortable and confident on it when she was older.  Lauren went on to express that the studio introduced her daughter to her some of her best friends.  The girls grew up dancing together, starting in parent-toddler classes and now competing in group routines on stage.  Competing also gave Angelina role models to look up to as she watched the older dancers during their performances or cheered along with them during award ceremonies.  As a studio director, Lauren explained that starting children in competitive dance young really prepares them for life by helping them gain confidence, build character, and teaching discipline.  Most importantly she says competing is a bonding experience and that it is “beautiful to see the love and teamwork dancers all have with each other.

We know several questions can arise when thinking about starting your child in dance: Are they ready for dance? What styles of dance are suitable for them? How do I know if they enjoy dancing?  Don’t worry, these are completely normal questions that every parent has.  There is no right or wrong answer to these questions, remember that every child is different. It’s important to understand your child’s personality, interest, and overall behavior.

When asked if they saw any negative effects to starting their daughters in dance so young, both Kelly and Lauren said NO without any hesitation.  Kelly’s advice to moms thinking about starting their toddler in dance is to know that “not every studio may be for you, but when you find the right instructor the bond is something that is beautiful & unbreakable” while Lauren ensures that “the memories they will make in dance are priceless!