So, you think you can’t dance?
Apart from the screaming, sleepless nights, and constant searching for my kids in the clothing aisles at Kohl’s, being a parent is one of the most freeing attributes of my life. If you have young kids in particular, like me, then you may just be the coolest person that they’ve ever met. Let that sink in for a moment.
My name is Christopher Vuk, and I’m the proud parent of four amazingly different young children and the founder of Fiddlefox
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE to dance. I do have a problem though about being a bit a shy about. So, needless to say, I’m not the first one up on the dance floor when Miley Cyrus is on the radio.
When I had kids, I really wanted them to experience dance. I remember far too many Jr and High School dances of my own where I stood glued to the wall like a moron because I thought I was too cool to dance, and even if I wasn’t, I had no idea what to do anyways!
Nowadays, however, dance has become a default response in our household, and it’s not just because I have an incredible shoulder roll. Children don’t judge, and so, whatever seemed embarrassing before, with kids, it’s open season! And if it’s good for your self esteem as a parent, you can imagine that it’s good for your child too.
One of the easiest ways to implement dance in your home is in the form of an impromptu dance party. In our house, we have a nightly bedtime routine that we usually weave dance into a few times a week. There’s no plan. We really just turn on some music and break into improvised dance movements. We’re not serious at all, and more often than not it results in a lot of jumping and running around in circles. One song is often all we do, but it’s definitely one of the highlights of the day, and something we all look forward to.
For those of you that are looking for more of a purposeful experience, combining some simple musical concepts alongside a simple recurring dance step is a great way for a child to internalize musical and rhythmical ideas. Stomping or tiptoeing to different parts of the music can represent dynamics, alternating fast and slow footsteps internalizes tempo, and going from crouching to standing tall can coordinate with high/low levels of pitch. As I’ve said many times before, you don’t need to be a professional musician to teach your child music and introduce them to fundamental musical concepts. The best thing you can do as a parent is build consistency in the practice of those fundamentals.
Finally, for the brave ones out there, I highly recommend folk dancing. Now. this probably won’t be the dance step of choice at a Justin Bieber concert, but when it comes to building creativity and improvisation, as well as gaining appreciation of diverse world cultures, it’s hard to beat. The Orff and Kodaly methods have done a wonderful job of compiling lists of folk dances, primarily from Eastern Europe. Youtube also has a wealth of videos of children’s folk dances, so all you need to there is party like a preschooler!
Dancing is a beautiful way to connect with your child, to experience the music and dance cultures of the world, as well as to experience a new kind of freedom and joy in your life. I hope this video takes some of your anxiety away about dancing, and gives you some new tools to try along with your child.
CHALLENGE: Pick a time this week to hold a dance party with your kids (planned or unplanned), and then tell me how it went in the comments below.