Classrooms In Motion
Why Latin Dancing Is Good for Kids
Elementary - Middle School & High School - College
Training for Life
As a teacher you work hard every day to help your students master their academic subjects -- but you also do your best to guide their social development, knowing that the skills needed for a happy, productive life go far beyond math and good grammar. To develop into successful, self-aware people who value themselves and relate well to others, young people need experiences specifically designed to instill teamwork, respect, self-confidence and social etiquette. This happens best in a supportive setting where adult mentors model these positive qualities in a way kids can understand. It also helps if you make fun, great music and vigorous activity a major aspect of the training.
Fortunately, there is a wonderful way to provide children and young adults with this valuable life training in an enjoyable, fun way: through a program of Latin dancing. The Latin dances - Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Cha-Cha-Cha - are lively and vibrant because the music is so alive and inspiring. Each dance has basic steps that are easy to learn, and each is appropriate for elementary and middle school students. The ideal program will consist of at least two of these dances, with Merengue being the dance of choice for elementary school programs.
Whether your students learn Merengue, Salsa, Bachata, Cha Cha or any combination of those dances, the transformation they will experience is universal and you are likely to notice a welcome change in your students' behaviors and attitudes. Here are the main ways young people have benefited from school dance programs across the country:
Latin dancing cannot happen without teamwork, so teamwork is a major focus of the classes. Each boy learns how to lead a girl through the dance steps, and each girl learns how to "read" her partner's actions and follow through on them. Both leading and following are equally challenging, so each member of the pair learns to support the other. When the girl and the boy are fully attentive to each other, when the boy's leading motion is clear and the girl's interpretation of the lead is accurate, when each partner is committed to the other, the dance comes to life! This process of increasingly clear connection builds trust and increases the ease with which the students are able to approach and work with other students. These skills rapidly spread to other areas of the child's life at school and at home - more compassionate attitudes, greater interest in hearing others out, and increased willingness on the part of boys and girls to cooperate patiently and see each other in a positive light.
Respect for Self and Others
The mutual trust and teamwork that develops in Latin dance programs naturally cultivates respect - respect on the part of each student for his or her role in the dance, respect for the partner's effort and needs, and respect for the dances themselves. A young person who is strong and secure, who respects himself or herself, is likely to respect others throughout life. A girl with high self-esteem is not likely to be taken advantage of, and a boy who treats his dance partner with respect has a good chance of being respectful to women as an adult. Latin dance can channel youthful energy in a more positive direction: many young people have literally turned their lives around, giving up aggressive or antisocial behaviors and forming visions of the productive and fulfilling futures they want to have.
For students who do not receive respect at home, the dance instructors provide positive role modeling at a very critical time. By interacting with their dance instructors, students in the Latin dance program absorb the qualities of the men and women who cheerfully and respectfully guide their development as social dancers.
Every student receives something valuable from a Latin dance program. For many, the social etiquette training can make the difference between an awkward child and a confident one. The proper ways of approaching a dance partner, initiating the dance, moving together in the dance, and ending the dance are demonstrated very clearly, and students have the opportunity to practice this etiquette throughout each class. As a result, the fear of walking up to a boy or girl and asking them to dance melts away. Teachers often notice a remarkable change in their pupils' poise and self-confidence.
Coordination and Harmony
Latin dancing with a partner develops a young person's coordination on several levels. Students learn to listen to the rhythm of a song, identify the primary "beat" within the rhythm and coordinate their movements to the beat. Each young person also learns the physical, mental and kinesthetic skill of leading or following. The astonishing product of a child's efforts to coordinate his or her motion with the rhythm of a song and the movements of a partner is, literally, harmony. By the end of your students' Latin dance program, you are likely to notice that these students move more smoothly through their school life than before - perhaps they will seem more at ease with other people, perhaps they will seem happier, or maybe they will just seem to get through challenges more easily. Experience shows that young people who learn to dance just generally seem more harmonious after they finish the program. What has really happened is that the kids feel less isolated, more at ease in the world and more positive about themselves.
Some students who are not drawn to sports find they really like Latin dance. Each Latin dance in a typical program provides a gentle to moderate aerobic workout.
Students in the Latin dance program are taught the history, geography and origin of each dance. They are exposed to the rich and inspiring music itself, which communicates the joy and beauty of the countries and peoples who created the dances. By dancing to the music of Salsa, Bachata, Cha-Cha or Merengue, your students will receive a gift that goes beyond language.
Discovery of A Talent
For a child who has a talent for dance, your school's Latin dance program could provide the only affordable way for that young person to discover this talent and receive focused, supportive mentoring from gifted adult dancers. By opening this door in a talented young dancer's life, you give that child the certainty that they have a source of creativity no one can take away. Great dreams are born of knowing one's natural abilities, and great possibilities arise when adults carefully nurture a child's talents.
Whether a student naturally gravitates toward dance or not, the Latin dance program will offer each student at least one uplifting benefit to take into life.
Dancing With Grace Productions
The instructors at Dancing With Grace Productions (DWG) fully appreciate the many benefits of Latin dancing because we have been receiving them for so many years! In particular, DWG's staff has extensive experience teaching Salsa, Bachata, Merengue and Cha Cha to elementary, middle school and high school students. In our experience, the impact that Latin dance instruction can have on a child's life is enormous. Having seen so many young people grow from their exposure to these dances, we are confident a Latin dance program will benefit your students in the present and future!
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or call 813-943-1117.