Dancing for Student Well-Being

When you walk into most classrooms, you see children sitting at desks. While these may be in rows or grouped together, the kids are always sitting for long periods of time. This typically begins in elementary school and continues into high school and beyond. Child development specialists know that play, movement, laughter, and fun are needed for social and emotional well-being. The problem is that there is little time in the school day for kids to do this. Much of the focus is on the academic day, and this can be detrimental to many children.

Some schools are incorporating mindful moment breaks in the day. While this is a great start, it still does not grant children who need to wiggle and move the ability to do this. That’s where dance therapy may be beneficial for all students. Dance therapy is currently used for cancer patients. It helps these kids to be better able to cope with their pain, frustrations, and stresses that come with the realities of cancer. Many times, physical therapy sessions have included dance to work on range of motion and gross motor skills.

Now we know that dance therapy may be beneficial for a larger population. Dance and movement therapy began in the 1940s to help with a person’s emotion, cognitive, physical, and social well-being. The fact that the mind, body, and spirit work together to help a person is crucial. When children are allowed to move and dance in the middle of a stressful day, it gives them a temporary distraction. During this time, they are able to laugh, play, and get much-needed energy out after sitting in class.

Dance therapy can vary based on the group, age, and number of children who are working together. Since this is not being used as physical therapy, the key is to relax kids participating and allow them to sense calm and fun during the time. The movement often allows children to let their anger, frustrations, and stress flow out of the body and gain more confidence over time. The point in trying this in larger groups would be to help with the daily lack of movement while helping with another emotional therapy approach.

Schools that are interested in implementing this type of program should investigate local dance therapy resources. With the help of therapists at school, classroom teachers could be shown what to do on a daily basis. School therapists could then make scheduled stops into classrooms to open up communication with students and continue check on their emotional well-being.

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