How Children Learn Dance, Kindergarten-Grade 4

Children in kindergarten to grade four love to move and learn through engagement of the whole self. They need to become literate in the language of dance in order to use this natural facility as a means of communication and self-expression, and as a way of responding to the expression of others.

Dancing and creating dances provide them with skills and knowledge necessary for all future learning in dance and give them a way to celebrate their humanity.

Dance education begins with an awareness of the movement of the body and its creative potential. At this level, students become engaged in body awareness and movement exploration that promote a recognition and appreciation of self and others.

Students learn basic movement and choreographic skills in musical and rhythmic contexts. The skills and knowledge acquired allow them to begin working independently and with a partner in creating and performing dances.

Experiences in perceiving and responding to dance expand students’ vocabularies, enhance their listening and viewing skills, and enable them to begin thinking critically about dance. They investigate questions such as “What is it?”, “How does it work?”, and “Why is it important?”

Practicing attentive audience behavior for their peers leads to describing movement elements and identifying expressive movement choices. Students learn to compare works in terms of the elements of space, time, and force or energy and to experience the similarities and differences between dance and other disciplines.

Through dance education, students also can come to an understanding of their own culture and begin to respect dance as a part of the heritage of many cultures. As they learn and share dances from around the globe as well as their own communities, children gain skills and knowledge that will help them participate in a diverse society.

From National Standards for Arts Education