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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.
Just 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.
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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.