If you’re reading this, it’s fair to say that you’re probably browsing the SRL site. And if you’re browsing our site, you may be considering signing your child up for Irish dance. One of the most common questions any studio gets asked is: how old does my child need to be to start dance lessons? Our answer is always the same: If you can walk, you can dance!
While dance has been proven to be beneficial to all age groups and we’ll never discourage an older student from beginning, there’s upsides to starting early. First of all, let’s acknowledge the elephant in every single room: it’s 2020, so your kids have been spending ALL their time with you. And as much as some extra family time has been the major benefit of this year, it does mean less opportunities for your child to develop a sense of independence and personhood, as well as for practicing social skills outside the home. There’s no “Mommy and Me” classes at SRL—we see even our Tiny Jig classes (for 2 to 3-year-olds) as a way for our students to not only learn to dance, but also: practice taking turns and sharing attention with others, being kind and respectful to peers and adults, learning about personal space boundaries, as well as a myriad of other not just social, but developmental skills they may not have a lot of chances to practice right now.
Beyond the developmental benefits dance can foster, are the physical benefits. Our youngest classes concentrate not only on dance skills, but help improve motor skills, as well as help catch and correct any issues with right-left dominance. And, of course, it’s excellent exercise. (Especially during New England’s winter months!)
Innumerable studies confirm that dance also improves cognitive ability and can led a better quality of life. Why? While there can’t be a downside to forging a mind-body connection early in development, dance classes also help kids practice patience, goal setting, and routine—all things that will benefit them in their future studies—as well as musicality. We’ve all seen the reports about how stimulating music is for the brain—why not develop that appreciation early?
Additionally: if your child is already interested in dance, they may want to continue with it as they get older. Early dance classes aren’t a requirement, but they will lay a good foundation for your dancer’s success later on by instilling technique and creating a well-rounded dancer. In fact, it will be beneficial for any physical activity they choose—haven’t you heard the stories about NFL players taking dance classes to improve their coordination, flexibility, and footwork?
With fewer children attending in-person preschool or even elementary, SRL’s dance classes provide a safe, socially distant space (with small class sizes to assure safety and close attention to all students and online options) for your kids to grow, learn, and play. It may not be easy right away—your kids may get discouraged or have the occasional tantrum or issues listening—but that’s what dance is about: learning, growing, and pushing through. Irish dance, like life, only has a couple moments of instant gratification…but isn’t that what makes real, earned successes all the sweeter? Here at SRL, students get moved up levels as soon as their skills have progressed, not by any specific age designation (that’s just to start!) Your child’s hard work is the only thing rewarded. And what better lesson to instill in your kids at a young age than that?
Hear our Director, Courtney Jay, TCRG, discuss the benefits of our programs (for children as young as two!) here:
This is our second Saturday bonus post! Check out our first here, all about battling back to school burnout. And check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram
I like that you pointed out that the child can still continue dance school when they get older if they want to. That is nice to know, and I hope that my daughter would really love dancing. I just plan to enroll her in a dance class this coming summer to spend her time productively learning new things, so it would be nice to know if she actually falls in love with this skill in the future.
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