Parents everywhere are perpetually on the lookout for healthy and wholesome activities for their children. We sign them up for sports to keep them fit and music to add some cultural enrichment. And we wind up chauffeuring them so much we fear that they will recognize the backs of our heads better than our faces. There is growing awareness that we can indeed have too much of a good thing when it comes to children’s activities. Kids need more down time and more family time. All those wonderful activities do cut into both. So how can we give our kids the health, cultural and social benefits of activities without overdoing it? We can find activities that provide multiple benefits, such as Irish dance. So aside from the gorgeous if spendy costumes and great music, what’s so amazing about Irish dance? Lots.
- It’s a good work out. All of that kicking is hard work. Kids will really burn up energy and work their legs dancing, so if they enjoy it and aren’t too focused on a particular sport, Irish dance can replace sports to provide the physical workout they might not be getting in school or at home where they are so tempted by the TV and electronic games.
- It’s cultural and artistic. You want to raise cultured children with a basic knowledge of music and art, and Irish dance gives them that. It lets them participate in a widely loved part of Irish culture while developing a sense of rhythm. It can inspire them to learn more about Ireland, and fostering an interest in learning is a very good thing.
- It is social. They are often dancing together as a group, which not only provides an opportunity to practice teamwork, but encourages them to interact with each other.
- They can practice at home. Unlike some activities, your child doesn’t need teammates, a ton of equipment or space to practice at home. And consider which artistic, cultural activity you’d rather listen to for 20 or 30 minutes a day – violin, drums, clarinet or dance. Oh yes, she can practice almost silently in soft shoes.
- Competition teaches good sportsmanship. Sports are great for teaching children how to lose gracefully, which is an important life skill. They will have an advantage in life if they can experience losing and congratulating the winner while pondering what they can learn from the experience to do better next time. Irish dance involves competitions as well where your children can learn the same lessons, but if you feel your particular child doesn’t fare well in competitive environments, he or she can also enjoy Irish dance without getting involved in competitions.
- You get to cheer for them and let them know how proud you are. Let’s be honest. We all want to cheer our kids on… and brag about them. Irish dance is an excellent opportunity for that.
Irish dance is a great activity for all children, whether they have Irish heritage or not. It’s healthy and creative, and it covers all the bases so you can consolidate their activities and do less driving around. And you can gain many of the same benefits by learning Irish dancing yourself.