by Natasha Maltseva on 07/20/15
The many benefits of regular dance classes for your child are endless: physical, social, educational, and self-esteem pluses abound. A wonderful alternative to team sports that may not do it for your child, dance classes allow your child to burn some of that wonderful energy while growing socially at the same time.
Many parents debate back and forth over how frequently those classes should occur for the best benefit. Until your child has indicated a deep passion for dance, daily classes run the risk of burning them out.
However, if you want the best benefits to your child’ physical, social, and cognitive development, once a week classes are going to be challenged to optimally produce that.
Motor memory is a term usually associated with professional athletes and weight training. However, this school of thought in the world of exercise science has its place in all physical development for children, including dance.
Our bodies learn new skills as we challenge them to do so. Our muscles build muscle memory as they are challenged on a regular basis to the new or more difficult movements. If the length of interval between training sessions is more than a few days, new learning at a certain level needs to occur. This is not to say that no gains will be made, but results will be seen at a slower level.
Muscle memory is especially true in regards to dance since dance requires much more detailed cognitive memory functions than most sports require. This is demonstrated in “marking” which is when a dancer does a run-through of a dance routine over and over, not focusing on perfection, but learning the routine, itself.
As children utilize these cognitive challenges along with physical ones, dance is naturally more beneficial to children than many sport activities, since typically, greater concentration and thought processes are required to recall the skills.
Regarding frequency of dance classes for children, the feelings of success and self-confidence soar if they see in practical ways their improvement and success. It is more difficult to see those gains when attempting muscle and cognitive memory at an interval of just once a week. Parents need to keep their expectations more reasonable with once a week classes.
When we have seen our students move to a twice-weekly format, their skills, abilities, and confidence with classes just soar! If your child is currently taking classes once a week, consider enrolling them in twice weekly sessions especially for the summer months and you will be amazed at the improvement you will see.