At Tot Bop, we are passionate about getting children moving to music and dancing because we recognise the huge benefits that come from dance and how it can help enhance your child’s development. I believe dance can help develop motor skills, improve balance and co-ordination, enhance imagination, develop rhythm and musical awareness, improve concentration, listening and attention, encourage creativity and a sense of self and above all, build confidence and self-esteem. I believe that starting this process at a young age ensures that children build foundations that will stay with them for life.
When creating the Tot Bop syllabus, I wanted to ensure that we include exercises and routines that deliver all the benefits of dance every single lesson. I used my experience of being a professional dancer and teaching at professional level to analyse what the important elements of a dancer were when stripped back to basic level; musicality, creativity, co-ordination, imagination and confidence. These factors became the basis of our Tot Bop syllabus to ensure the foundations of dance were delivered to children every lesson, right from the start.
Motor Skills, Balance and Co-ordination
Motor skills develop in young children all the time. Every ‘landmark’ they achieve, from rolling to sitting, to crawling and then pulling themselves up and eventually walking, they are achieving more and more gross and fine motor skills every day. We ensure our exercises are tailored to support these milestones, helping children as they grow to build the strength to learn to jump, gallop or eventually skip, for example. Balance and co-ordination come through following a specific move or sequence of movement as children have to use their body and their brain to process and copy what they are being shown. I’ve therefore, created certain sections of the class, which simply focus on developing motor skills, balance and co-ordination. We call these sections our centre exercise and our travelling step.
Imagination is enhanced throughout, but particularly in our ‘storytime’ section. All Tot Bop teachers are taught to deliver their classes with tonnes and tonnes of imagery throughout! These imaginative descriptions of steps and moves help little ones understand what is required of them and it helps bring the move to life! We then get really creative in the ‘storytime’ section, where the children are asked to imagine that they are a certain thing, in a certain place, like a creature in a forest or a pirate on a ship. Guided by the teacher, the children dance/act out the ‘story’. It’s truly amazing watching the children get totally immersed in their story and character. Not only does it help develop their imagination, but it teaches them that all dance tells a story, whether it’s a ballet, a piece of contemporary dance or a piece of musical theatre.
Rhythm and Musicality
Rhythm and musicality is taught in the music section. All classes, even our youngest class for ages 1-2.5, has a rhythm section to start putting counts to sounds and hearing the musical phrase. Learning rhythm from an early age is not just beneficial for learning to dance, but it can significantly help the development of speech, language and communication, along side early numeracy. I love that the use of nursery rhymes, counting and lots of rhythm focused exercises in our Tot Bop classes helps children make sense of syllables, words and phrases. Also, by simply pairing counts with sounds, children begin to understand numbers and patterns.
As children get older and move up the classes, lots of different musical genres are introduced in the music section, which includes a movement section to match the style of the music. For example, children learn a simple rhythm to a piece of ‘rock n roll’ music and then learn some simple and accessible ‘rock n roll’ moves. Other genres we include are reggae, funk, salsa, country, blues, rock, hip-hop, to name a few. I love the double purpose to this section; it not only continues to teach children about rhythm and the musical phrase as in the younger classes, but it also introduces them to different styles of music, with a whole variety of different stylistic moves, all which are unique in the way they make you feel and move.
Creativity, Confidence and a Sense of Self
I believe creativity, confidence and a sense of self go hand in hand. They can be taught through dance but they are skills for life! One of the most rewarding sides of teaching (and parenting) is seeing confidence and creativity develop. Children are often quite shy when they first start but I’ve ensured that creativity and confidence building exercises are built in every single lesson so the shyness doesn’t tend to last long! Right from the very youngest Tot Bop class, children learn that ‘crazy shapes’ are a big thing in our world! This is our first way of introducing creativity … the children get to choose their own shape to make with their bodies. This is something they have chosen and are not copying, so it instantly builds a sense of self and confidence. We use the ‘crazy shape’ at the end of the travelling step and often throughout the class. Once the children move up to our ‘Baby Boppers’ class at age 2.5, they also have a freestyle section built in at the end of the class. Here they can move instinctively to the music in a way they want and be as creative as they like. As confidence builds, so does creativity as they get braver and braver to try new things.
Listening, Attention and Concentration
And it’s not all about learning to dance! I LOVE the additional learning benefits that manifest as a result of our classes and children learning to dance from a young age. Children, even as young as 1 or 2 years old, start to learn how to follow instruction. Listening skills that are so important for school readiness are developed and enhanced through doing an activity which they are inspired and motivated to take part in. Often this process can happen over a period of time but it’s SO rewarding when little ones do start to follow the instruction. Their confidence and self-esteem sores!!!
I love what we do at Tot Bop and I am so proud to be able to deliver a programme of classes to children, where I’m entirely confident that the work is well balanced and beneficial to all. So much can be gained from learning to dance at a young age. I hope we can help deliver those benefits to you and your little one too.
If you’d like to find a regular Tot Bop class to suit you and your child, check out the Term-Time Classes page on the Tot Bop website. From here, you can view our timetable, book into a class or book a trial: https://totbop.co.uk/childrens-dance-classes-leighton-buzzard/
We look forward to welcoming you along soon!