1, 2, 3, 4: EF on the Dance Floor!

Mom dancing with her two daughters

While parents and teachers often focus on academic achievements, it is equally important to nurture children’s cognitive health. Recent research reveals(link opens in new tab/window) the profound impact of dance and music on executive function—cognitive skills that are crucial for success in academics and life. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between dance, music, and executive function, and discuss how parents can incorporate these activities into their children’s lives to foster cognitive growth and well-being.

The Intersection of Dance, Music, and Executive Function

The article highlights how engaging in dance and music can significantly improve executive function skills in children. Executive function encompasses cognitive processes such as attention control, working memory, cognitive flexibility, and self-regulation. These skills play a fundamental role in a child’s ability to focus, plan, organize, problem-solve, and regulate emotions—all of which are crucial for academic success and overall well-being.

The Power of Dance and Music

  1. Enhanced Cognitive Flexibility: Dance and music require children to synchronize movements, adapt to changing rhythms, and coordinate various body parts. This promotes cognitive flexibility, allowing children to switch between different tasks, think creatively, and approach challenges from multiple perspectives.
  2. Improved Working Memory: Learning dance routines or musical pieces involves memorizing sequences, steps, or notes. This exercise of working memory strengthens the child’s ability to retain and manipulate information, benefiting their academic performance.
  3. Boosted Attention Control: Dance and music demand focused attention and concentration. Regular engagement in these activities trains children to sustain their attention, ignore distractions, and stay present in the moment—skills that are transferable to various learning environments.

Incorporating Dance and Music

  1. Encourage Participation: Enroll your child in dance classes or music lessons. Provide opportunities for them to explore different genres and instruments to find what resonates with their interests.
  2. Make It a Family Affair: Create dance parties or sing-along sessions at home. By engaging in activities that involve movement and rhythm, you can foster a love for dance and music while bonding as a family.
  3. Support Creative Expression: Provide access to musical instruments, encourage imaginative play, and create a nurturing environment that values artistic expression and experimentation.

By embracing dance and music as valuable tools for cognitive development, parents can enhance their children’s executive function skills. Let us celebrate the power of dance and music, and together, create a harmonious journey towards optimal cognitive health for our children.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org