Parenting Perspective: My little ballerina

August 25, 2010

Emma turns 3 in a few weeks and she's been begging me to sign her up for dance classes. I told her she could start when she turns 3, just like I did. I took ballet lessons for thirteen years, quit to run track in high school. At times, I miss ballet and I'm thrilled that my daughter will soon experience the benefits of dance.

Research by the group Americans for the Arts shows that dance provides physical, developmental and artistic benefits to your child:

    Physical Benefits - Students build muscle strength while increasing flexibility. Young dancers develop a sense of balance and improve agility and coordination. Importantly, children also develop body awareness and learn correct posture. These benefits extend beyond a student's involvement with dance, helping youth involved in other disciplines, such as sports and martial arts. Studies have shown that physical activity helps children relieve stress and feel relaxed. It also is a great way to help your child develop a positive lifelong attitude about staying active and healthy.

    Developmental Benefits - Dance classes are fun and a great way to meet new friends. Young dancers develop essential social skills through interaction with other students. Group choreography fosters teamwork, communication, trust and cooperation. Dance also has been proven to nurture important life skills, such as discipline and focus. Dancers naturally display confidence, self-esteem and poise. These skills are developed through participating in dance performances.

    Artistic Benefits - One of the greatest benefits of dance is that it sparks a child's imagination and nurtures individual creativity in a unique way. Dance classes share the joy of physical self-expression in a supportive and structured setting.

    Educational Achievement - Believe it or not, one study showed that "students who participate in the arts are not only more likely to participate in a math and science fair, but also out-perform their peers on the SATs by 87 points" (www.artsusa.org). These educational benefits are gained by students regardless of their socioeconomic status.

All certainly wonderful reasons for your youngster to take dance classes. For my little 3-year-old ballerina, she says she wants to take lessons for only one reason: dancing is fun. Who am I to argue with that?

Happy parenting!

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