Saturday, June 17, 2006

Get your Kids Dancing!

By Christina VanGinkel

With a lack of health and exercise a concern for many parents where their children are concerned, getting their children interested in a hobby that can provide access to action is a growing goal of many parents. Dance is one such hobby that can provide an advantage such as this. In addition, it is a hobby, which if the child enjoys it, can lead to many years of fun and activity. With tap, ballet, jazz, Celtic, and other dance forms to choose from, you and your child are sure to find one that is of interest and that your child can have fun at while getting the extra exercise that many children need, but often lack in their day-to-day lives.

One young girl I know, the daughter of a good friend, has been taking dance lessons for several years already, and is only four years old. She attends class once a week, where she has had the opportunity, to not only gain knowledge of the basics of tap dancing, (her chosen genre) but to also make many friends that she would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet, as the school teaches students from several small surrounding communities. They spend their hour of class each week learning the very basic steps that make tap dancing the fun and exhilarating dance that it is. They have also been learning exercises that will help them progress to more complicated dance routines as the years go by. The hour is filled with fun, learning, and exercises in a safe environment, with teachers trained for dealing with such young children, and trained in teaching the various dance genres safely, and correctly, helping each child build a foundation in dance from which to build on.

My own daughter attended ballet classes when she was the same age. She danced until the early years of elementary school, then switched her energies and focus to the game of basketball, which she continued to enjoy throughout school. I firmly believe that her beginning in dance at such a young age gave her many advantages both physically and mentally for the other sports that she participated in throughout her school years, not to mention in life itself.

My niece also attended dance classes around the same time that my daughter began, but went on to make dancing a part of her complete school life, dancing with the company through her senior year in high school. She never lost interest, and said that it helped her tremendously with her ability to compete as a cheerleader.

Whether your child sticks with it for a year or two, or makes it a long-term hobby, there is a lot to be gained.

Taking part in dance will provide your child with the opportunity to build coordination, learn discipline, and build strength and stamina, alongside of building their self-esteem and teaching confidence. Dance provides so many benefits, that I often wonder why more children are not involved in this wonderful pastime.

We had the opportunity to go to the dance recital of my friend's daughter last night. Ages of the children, boys and girls, ranged from the pre-tot age, through the senior year of high school. Besides all of the regular dance genres, the dance school also teaches a gymnastics class, and the kids that were performing for that class seemed to be having just as much fun if not more so than the children representing the various dance genres. So if you have a child that rally does not want to dance, this might be something to consider too.

If you do have a child who is interested in taking up the hobby of dance, or you are looking for a hobby that will get your kids moving, off the couch, active, and enjoying themselves, consider dance in one of the many available genres. Even the littlest children can join, which makes it a perfect hobby to get involved in if you happen to have kids across a wide age range.

Do not assume that all of the schools that teach such classes expect your child to look at such an activity as a career move. Most children join with the intent to have fun, to learn the basic steps of a particular dance, and to participate in some group-oriented activity other than their regular school activities. Dance can be the best hobby your child will ever participate!

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