My First Real Dance Class

I’m often asked at what age is a good age for young children to begin dance instruction.  Of course, as with every age in human development, each child is born with varying degrees of natural talent, coordination as well as varying degrees of development with no ‘real’ determining at what age each individual is at that precise point of readiness.  With that I always respond the age of three years…and potty trained.

With technology today, music is a very integral part of our everyday lives.  This is no different for the youngest child.  Music is a natural part of a toddler’s life.  Toddlers may enjoy singing their favorite nursery rhymes to their dolls and stuffed animals, the sound of a mother’s lullaby before bed, or as in the case of my toddler granddaughters, singing and dancing to their mother’s iphone.  With each day, experiences in smells, textures, tastes, colors, sounds, and yes, music are contributing to building pathways between the cells in these young developing brains.   Studies have found that the neural connections will help toddlers and young children in almost every area of school, including reading and math.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Louis McKay | Little BallerinasJust listening to music can make these connections but are enhanced when children actively participate in musical activities such as dance.  You may have noticed that a young three year old will respond to music by rocking, marching, rolling, clapping, and swaying to the beat of the music.  This active response is already making important connections in the brain for development.  Children, specifically at the age of three to five years of age, that begin dance training that encourages self discipline, listening to direction, listening to the beat of the music and the rhythm and making coordinated movements are already developing skills that are critical to math and reading later on.

How do you know what dance class is right for your toddler?  The following are some good basic guidelines that will help in your search and put you and your child on his or her path to the future.

  • Although many dance schools offer ‘Mommy and Me’ classes for young toddlers that can pave the way to a dance beginning, in my 32 years of teaching, I have found and studies support that a toddler of three years has the capacity to have the ability to grasp simple dance concepts and musicality if instruction is geared toward a three year old attention span.  A dance class beginning at the age of three also begins building the toddler’s self awareness and sense of accomplishment.
  • Find dance classes that meet earlier in the day when a toddler’s mind is well rested and ready for the day instead of late afternoon or evening.  Researchers have found that young children are more open to learning, perform better and are more attentive if experiencing these ‘brain enhancing’ experiences prior to 3:00 in the afternoon.
  • Dance classes should be no longer than one hour in length comprised of many quick paced exercises varying in style and technique to accommodate a young developing attention span…and of course, scheduled water and potty breaks.
  • Find a reputable dance school and instructors that have proven experience in teaching young children, who combine real learning with excitement and fun and provide a warm and nurturing environment.
  • Have reasonable expectations of how much your child can master at this young age.

For information regarding Red Tap Production’s “Your First Real Dance Class” dvd series, please visit or today.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Louis A. McKay | North County Dance Arts

Louis McKay is President of North County DanceArts, Inc. located in Carmel Valley and currently trains 400 students from ages 3 to 93 years of age.  Louis has performed and taught Master dance and musical theater classes in 42 of our 50 states and Europe and South Africa. In 1980, Louis McKay opened Louis McKay Dance Studio, later to become North County DanceArts, Inc., which is a teaching facility that is best known for its professional teaching staff and quality dance training. Dancers from beginning level to professional are taught technique, terminology, and discipline in a nurturing and fun environment. Louis currently lives in Carmel Valley San Diego with his wife Tanya and is the proud father of four grown children and two grandchildren. Louis and Tanya McKay also own DanceHearts, a 501 (c) (3) Public Charity called Bells of Freedom Program, serves military men, women and their families by providing emergency care and support, back to school backpack program, vehicle donations and the annual “The Big Thank You” Military Holiday Event.


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