We’ve all been to a school or dance club performance. If it is not our own children, it is the neighbours, nieces or nephews, or our partner’s best friends. We’ve seen good and bad, things that made us laugh. The ‘groan moments’ the ‘Whoops’ and the times we’ve covered ears or eyes.
The youngsters are in the middle of some of the most important learning of their lives. It has nothing to do with their spins, split leaps or creative expression. While all of these things occur, improve and are absolutely necessary, a myriad of other things are happening in our brains and nervous systems.
The best part? You don’t have to try to do anything to make it happen. It just does
Dance is a great way to improve the link between our left and right brain hemispheres. Gross motor movement on either side of the body that cross the midline strengthen and increase the number of the neural pathways between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This improves the brain’s ability to use creativity to solve logic or mathematical type problems.
Strengthening the collateral connection gives students faster feedback on movements and enhances skill learning and movement automation.
Our bodies perform rhythmical activities every day without us having to consciously think. The brain is especially sensitive to rhythm and has the ability to regulate the body’s internal rhythms - heartbeat, breathing and blinking.
How does this help our academic performance?
Rhythm can be found in all languages through pace, pitch and tone. Reading and speaking require development of these core components which can be achieved in an enjoyable way through activities involving music and movement.
Our bodies perform rhythmical activities every day without us having to consciously think. The brain is especially sensitive to rhythm and has the ability to regulate the body’s internal rhythm- heartbeat, e.g. breathing and blinking. Rhythm can be found in all languages through pace, pitch and tone. Reading and speaking require development of these core components which can be achieved in an enjoyable way through activities involving music and movement.
The muscles that control our eyes need to be exercised and developed just like any other muscle in the body. 'Ocular Lock' is becoming more and more prevalent in children today. Moving the eyes is paramount to success in activities such as reading and writing where children must scan across a page, crossing the midline of their body with their eyesight and maintaining focus.
CROSSING THE MIDLINE
The left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice-versa. The corpus callosum is a bundle of neural pathways that are formed and strengthened as the body moves.
Each time the limbs on either side of the body cross the midline, the neural pathways in the corpus callosum are stimulated and strengthened.
Remaining balanced whilst performing complex personal skills or group-based activities creates impacts on the ‘Focal Centre’ of the brain. Focus is required for reading, writing and reasoning. It requires us to be attentive to a single thing at a time.
For reading this means our balance is linked to seeing a single letter and ‘holding’ it in its place in a word, focusing on a single word and subtle changes which make plurals or different forms of a word. Children who can focus and balance have been shown to have brains that are ready to learn to read.
Dynamic balance is linked to how we reason. If we can ‘hold’ a concept whilst listening other points of view, we can be more open minded to other points of view, and able to provide counter arguments. These complex intellectual skills require the learning of physical, active balance. Practising active and static balance has been shown to enlarge the focal centre of the brain.
Students should be encouraged to dance. All forms of dance, from social dances that allow them to feel confident in social settings where young people dance. Creative dance that expands their expressive abilities and imagination. Its great to know that dance enhances academic and intellectual functions.
Of course, it does you no harm as an excellent form of physical exercise!