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A woman in a red T-shirt reads to a group of children Where The Wild Things Are

5 benefits of dance for early years development

Since the pandemic, we’ve been hearing from teachers, education leaders and parents that many children are struggling with difficulties in confidence, self-regulation and communication. Even as we get further away from the pandemic, some issues still remain. 

Dance is a powerful and joyful way for children to foster their physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Through our Early Years projects, we have helped hundreds of little ones develop key skills to help them navigate the world around them.  

Here are just some of the benefits of dance for early years development:

A group of children lay on their bellies facing each other and making claws with their hands


Early exposure to dance helps children develop non-verbal communication skills, such as body language and facial expressions which are essential for effective interpersonal communication.

Conversation, storytelling and role play that underpin dance activities also help to develop verbal communication, language and listening skills. By exploring stories using sensory resources, movement and music, they find new ways to express meaning and embed new words.

'we have seen a real improvement in these children’s listening skills and confidence around using language.'

Northern Ballet Early Years collaborator

Physical Development

Dance is a fantastic way to enhance a child's physical development by encouraging the use of motor skills, balance, coordination, and muscle strength. The repetitive movements and patterns in dance also help children gain control over their bodies and improve their spatial awareness. 

Social and Emotional Development

Early Years dance groups and workshops offer children the opportunity to interact with others and express themselves emotionally whilst teaching them the importance of teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration. As children master moves and gain the approval of teachers and other children in the group, they build self-confidence and a positive self-image.

'fun activities with other children has led to confidence in forming a friendship'

Northern Ballet Early Years collaborator

Cognitive Development 

Dance is not just about physical movement; it also engages the mind. Learning dance sequences requires remembering sounds and patterns, improving memory skills.  Children must also think on their feet, enhancing their problem-solving skills.


Dance encourages children to use their imaginations to create and interpret stories in new ways. It encourages them to experiment with movement as they act out characters, scenarios, sounds and narratives, developing their storytelling skills. 

'The children have really developed a renewed sense of creativity and storytelling'

Northern Ballet Early Years collaborator

A boy and a woman acting out a book they are reading, pretending to be monsets, pulling frightening faces

Designed for children’s centers and nurseries, Northern Ballet’s artist-led Early Years projects introduce young children to dance through music, storytelling, and multi-sensory play. To find out more and enquire with our team visit Early Years.

Northern Ballet Early Years project in Hovingham, photos Gavin Joynt.