Thinking, feeling and relating: Young children learning through dance

Jan Deans
The University of Melbourne

Dance is considered to be central to the development of the young child (Deans, Meiners & Young, 2012; Meiners, 2014; Sansom, 2011; Schiller & Meiners, 2003; Stinson, 1993; Wright, 2003), yet playful body-based learning is often under represented as a learning area by early childhood educators. Framed within socio-constructivist and rights-based theory, the research reported in this paper investigated young children’s learning through dance and the role of the teacher in enabling this learning. The in-depth study adopted a qualitative mixed-methods case study methodology (Stake, 2005; Yin, 2003). The findings revealed that dance enabled the participating children to engage in embodied thinking, playful, imaginative problem solving and aesthetic decision making, while developing, through multi-modal semiotic meaning making, a strong sense of self and collective agency. The findings also highlighted a particular pedagogical platform and a range of teaching strategies that supported the establishment of an interest-based socio-constructivist dance curriculum where the voices of children were given an opportunity to be expressed in multiple ways.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 41 Number 3 September 2016.

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