Learning to dance can benefit young children in ways that can contribute to their readiness for school. At Tot Bop, we have not only ensured our classes provide a varied, educational programme, but we’ve also ensured the syllabus we’ve created is underpinned with the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) framework, laid out by the Government. This ensures that right from the offset, our classes are helping your child get school ready.
Our syllabus is split up into developmental stages, so there is a class for children as young as 1 up to and including age 9. Our syllabus develops both gross and fine motor skills, co-ordination, balance, rhythm, musical awareness, body awareness, creativity, confidence and imagination. It enhances independence … even children as young as 1 are able to follow instruction, copy a movement and dance on their own! It is inclusive of boys and girls and is designed to be supportive of SEN children. We are passionate about giving children, what we believe to be the very best introduction to dance, getting them moving and inspiring and igniting imaginations.
EYFS 7 areas of learning
Every Tot Bop class is designed to incorporate the EYFS 7 areas of learning. Whether it is a rhythm exercise of counting the beat (mathematics) or learning a specific dance style in the music section (understanding the world) or using their imaginations in the storytime section (expressive arts and design), the syllabus cleverly incorporates the learning goals and landmarks laid out in the EYFS framework, presenting them in an inclusive, accessible and fun way to children. The 7 areas of learning are:
- Physical, social and emotional development
- Physical development
- Communication and language
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
Physical, social & emotional development
At Tot Bop, we encourage a sense of self through creative opportunities throughout the class. Children develop listening and attention skills and learn how to follow instruction. As the children progress, dancing as a group or with partners promotes teamwork, communication and co-operation, helping children develop relationships and social skills that are crucial for interacting with peers and teachers in a school setting. As children achieve new skills, they gain a sense of accomplishment and improved self-esteem. This is rewarded immediately in the class with verbal praise from the teacher and then at the end of every lesson each child receives an achievement sticker, which they put on their sticker chart with pride! This often translates into a positive attitude to learning and taking on challenges at school.
Through its very nature, dancing improves gross motor skills, co-ordination and balance, which are essential for young children to engage in physical activities at school and participate in sports and games. Dexterity is encouraged through the use of props. We also ensure children have an awareness of ‘left and right’, spacial awareness, pattern and direction. Through memorising routines, patterns and steps, children’s memories, concentration and cognitive abilities are enhanced, helping them with the ability to follow instruction in the classroom.
Communication & language
At Tot Bop we provide a safe, open and relaxed environment, where children are free to ask questions and communicate with the teacher. The teacher will verbally explain each exercise, alongside physical demonstration, so children enhance their listening and attention skills throughout. Nursery rhymes and rhythm songs are used in the younger classes, the rhythm of which encourages speech and language development. Imagery is used throughout by the teachers in all classes, aiding the child’s understanding, imagination and vocabulary. Children are encouraged to say hello and goodbye to the teacher and engage in conversation when receiving their achievement sticker at the end of class.
At Tot Bop, we use action songs, which associate language with a movement. The dexterity gained from working with props can help with the strength required for writing. Rhythmic language and imaginative imagery is used throughout to enhance the understanding of a movement, step or sequence. This also builds each child’s vocabulary. Our storytime section, teaches the children the structure of a story, which can translate when building stories at school.
Learning to dance involves understanding rhythm and timing, which can enhance a child’s ability to grasp concepts of sequencing and patterns, supporting early mathematics. Each and every Tot Bop class contains a rhythm or music section, which always includes counting to the beat in a rhythmical pattern. This not only helps the children understand the concept of numbers, but also the musical phrase. As the children progress, they often have to repeat a movement a number of times eg. 4 jumps, 8 gallops etc. This adds to their understanding of numbers and what they mean. Children gain an awareness of shapes through choosing a shape mat to sit on at the beginning of class and in the ‘make a shape stretch’ exercise. Children gain an awareness of time through the structure of the class. All this contributes to their mathematical understanding required at school.
Understanding the world
At Tot Bop, the ‘storytime’ section ignites imaginations through putting movement into a context of a narrative. The subject matter of the story is always in line with the age and stage of development, encouraging the child to understand the world and what’s in it. Some examples include, animals on a farm, creatures in a forest, healthy eating, the weather and seasons etc. As the child gets older, more imaginative concepts are introduced. Our ‘music section’ also helps children begin to become aware of certain social/cultural sounds and moves, where they learn about a specific music/dance style for a number of weeks (eg African dance, rock n roll, Charleston, hip hop etc.). This helps foster an appreciation for diversity and helps them develop a broader worldview, which is hugely beneficial in a school environment.
Expressive arts & design
At Tot Bop, creativity is encouraged right from the age of 1, in making ‘crazy shapes’ with their bodies. There is a strong emphasis throughout on feeling the beat and moving in a way that is initiated by the music, enhancing creativity. The children thoroughly explore their imaginations in the ‘storytime’ section, whether it’s imagining watering a garden with watering cans, being a woodland creature in a forest or a tight rope walker in a circus for example. Children have an opportunity to ‘freestyle’ at the end of class in the ‘Tot Bop Boogie’. This encourages creativity, improvisation skills and builds confidence. Through dance, children learn to express themselves creatively and emotionally, fostering self-confidence and emotional intelligence, which can positively impact their behaviour and relationships with others at school.
Our aim is to encourage fun with learning.
Overall our aim is to encourage fun within learning. In helping to get your child school ready, our classes help children to listen and follow instruction. The children get used to learning along side others and being respectful of both their peers and the teacher. Social interaction and turn taking is promoted throughout and children get used to boundaries and the routine of the class setting. Overall our classes aim to enhance the children’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social development, making them better prepared to navigate the school environment and succeed academically and socially.