Learning on the Move


This is part of a series on PBT’s involvement in the 25th Annual Meeting of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science. Learn more about IADMS at www.iadms.org.

In creative movement class, children might be birds in flight or dinosaurs in motion. Scarves flutter through the air, hula hoops spin. Imaginations soar as they explore their space.  The possibilities are endless. 

As anyone with a little one knows, children are always on the move. And, movement is one of the first ways that children experience their surroundings. At this stage, they absorb information like sponges. Neurological activity is high and the time is ripe for learning. 

Creative movement taps in to that impulse and can spur the natural progression of fundamental movement skills, like running, hopping, skipping and throwing.

These kinesthetic learners move from rolling to crawling to couch surfing and toddling. Although the movement progression seems natural, nature vs. nurture also plays into the equation. My IADMS presentation focused on the research that backs up this idea – a concept known as Newell’s Constraint Model. This theory shows that it’s not just about instinct. Environment, opportunity and age-appropriate tasks also advance or inhibit motor development.  

At this stage, creative movement can meet a crucial window of opportunity– providing a supportive environment for movement exploration tailored to the development stage of the dancers.

Creative movement provides imaginative stimuli, routine, structure, and opportunities to make the most of these moments to nurture motor skill development. Teaching artists develop prompts and parameters that help children explore, imagine and form patterns – gaining awareness of their body and their place in space.  They incorporate imaginative stimuli, explore their skills and improvise movement of their own.

For example, trying a jump can pose a challenge for three-year-old. The movement might begin with a bend of the knees as the child rises to his or her toes. The pattern has begun. Over time and with practice, the instructor can introduce a slight modification, altering the way the body plans for movement. Now, the child begins transferring skills from the original jump. With time, this young mover could be sautéing in a dance class.

Creative movement is fun, but it’s not all about play. These exercises are mental as much as physical – helping children form patterns, hone motor skills and create connections that transfer to more complex movement sequences.

Get your little one moving with PBT. Visit our education pages for more information about creative movement sessions in our community.

Guest Post: Education Director Christina Salgado