by Helen Battelley, EY dance specialist

National guidelines recommend young children should ‘exercise’/’move’ for 180 minutes every day – thirty minutes of which should be exuberant, high-impact cardio-exercise. According to the British Heart Foundation, fewer than 10% of four-year-olds currently achieve this level of activity.

Dance and movement is not only a great way to keep fit and stay energised, but can connect to many crucial areas of learning and help reach those daily targets. Spatial awareness, musicality and rhythm help form mathematical thinking; role-play and freedom of movement enable children to become creative thinkers; movement and dance help co-ordination and develop gross and fine motor skills.


Simple choreography helps children develop sequencing skills.  Creating and following simple patterns is also a key mathematical area in ordering and problem solving.

Start with a Simons Says game: Simon says clap 4 times, wiggle your bottom, Simon says jump up and down and spin around.  Progress to follow the leader, copy each others dance moves and keep it simple. Try to remember the sequence of moves.

When moving to a rhythm, children grow to understand musicality, tempo and timing.  This is crucial in mathematical development.

DSC_3883Find a piece of music with a recurrent beat eg. ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams.Practice counting; 4 claps, 4 jumps, 4 knee bends, 2 twirls.  Ask the children to suggest some moves.  Once you have some basic moves established, let the children explore movement.  Children love exploring movement on different levels, rolling on the floor, crawling under or above simple apparatus. Ensure they have a safe space.

Using equipment in dance; scarves, ribbons, balls, claves etc encourages the  gross and fine motor skills needed to write.

With a ‘floaty’ scarf, practise moving high and low, side to side. Wriggle the scarf like a snake, tickle your toes, throw it in the air and catch it. Encourage a change of tempo, fast movements to fast music, and slow movements to slow music: TRY Bjork’s ‘Oh So Quiet’.

Dance is not a skill, but an “openness” to explore movement.  Everyone has the ability to dance, and respond to music. Music and Movement pedagogy creates an ideal foundation for creative, social, emotional and physical development.

Helen delivers training, seminars and consultancy to EYFS practitioners, managers and teachers globally, in understanding the importance of dance/movement in play and the cross-curricular links associated with dance in Early Childhood.

For more information visit www.musicandmovement.org.uk/cpd-training

Or contact Helen@musicandmovement.org.uk


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *