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Teaching dance to special-needs kids

Photo Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Lingfei Zhao, Syosset

For me, the best contribution to my community is sharing my passion to dance. I have been dancing since I could barely walk at 2 and I still am, loving every minute of it. Not only do I have a passion for dancing, but I also love sharing how to dance with others. I love to work with kids because I feel it is important for them to learn an art.

When I’m teaching the kids, they don’t only learn the skill, but they also learn focus, discipline and even coordination, which is all very important. I also love seeing kids happy and enjoying themselves. Throughout this year, I taught 3- and 4-year-olds many variations of dance.

One of my biggest challenges was in previous summers, I taught special-needs kids the art of dance. Through my experience, I realized dance is a fun way for special-needs children to improve mental and physical coordination. It is also a way to release stress or anxiety. Dancing can help kids become comfortable with their body.

Another way dancing can help special-needs children is to dance just for their pure enjoyment. They all had fun with these classes and loved to be silly. Sometimes they would get frustrated and required patience. However, seeing kids enjoying themselves because of something you’re doing is the most amazing feeling in the world. Many of the kids had autism or developmental disabilities. Having a way to express themselves was very exciting for both them and their parents. They loved to dance to silly songs and upbeat music. Along with some of the other assistants, we taught them the macarena, the chicken dance and other fun moves.

I was inspired to do this because I have a cousin who was diagnosed with autism last year. He often gets frustrated because he can’t express himself through words. However, one way he relaxes is by listening to music and dancing. He is calmed by listening to music. When words fail, dance speaks.

Meagan Miller’s students, Ivy League School, Smithtown

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