Dance teaching and learning possibilities within the early years and primary school context

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter in textbook/reference bookpeer-review


The teaching and learning possibilities in dance will be the subject of this chapter, specifically the need for distinctive yet integrated movement experiences in the early years and primary school. Dance constitutes a playful learning environment for young children in particular, since it serves to stimulate and channel their spontaneity and liveliness, offering them rich sensory experiences that are so vital for their full-bodied development and wellbeing. It is also an ideal vehicle through which a child can explore and become confident in the processes of composing, performing and appreciating, three ‘key factors in determining teaching and learning programmes’ (Smith-Autard, 1994: 1).
Following an initial review of the place of dance in the Early Years Foundation Stage (DCSF, 2008) and the UK primary physical education curriculum, these three dance processes will be interrogated individually and Rudolf Laban’s (1948) theoretical frameworks will be illuminated. As such, key dance knowledge, skills and understandings will be drawn out, highlighting the importance of nurturing children’s physical dexterity and skilfulness, their creative play and dance-making, as well as their powers of description,
analysis, interpretation and evaluation. This holistic approach to teaching and learning in dance is essential for children’s full, embodied experiences, seeking to nurture ‘thinking bodies’ and ‘moving minds’ (Tinning, 2009). The chapter will conclude with an example of a dance idea that models previously discussed aspects, challenging the dance teacher to think beyond the boundaries of ‘areas of Learning and Development’ (DCSF, 2008) and traditional primary ‘subjects’, due to the integrated, holistic, cross-curricular nature of the teaching and learning presented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAn introduction to primary physical education
EditorsGerald Griggs
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780203131886
ISBN (Print)9780415613095, 9780415613088
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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