During the summer holidays, your kid’s dance training is probably the last thing on your mind when trying to fill your family’s summer bucket list full of vacations, pool parties, and family time. You also probably want your child to be able to relax and rest, rather than work on maintaining their ballet and dance training which took so much time out of your year already.
There are also so many activities going on over the holidays (or alternatively too much screen time) that often kids will spend their time doing something other than dance, even if they love dancing more than anything else in the world! It is obvious that this can lead to a loss of fitness level, muscle memory, and coordination – but sometimes this is not enough to motivate us to commit to a holiday dance training routine, so here is a list of 10 key reasons to give your purpose and a reason why you should help your dancer implement one.
Reasons Why Your Dancer Needs to Keep Fit and Dance Over the Holidays
A dancer’s body is really only able to handle a workload for so long before it needs some time off, and being on holiday during the summer can provide that break. But just because your child may be tired doesn’t mean they need an entire week or month off from their dancing training!
Your child has worked hard all year and so it is important to help them at least maintain their flexibility and strength over the holidays. Here are nine reasons why it is so important!
1. To retain the muscle memory your dancer has built up.
The definition of muscle memory is the brain’s ability to store information about a movement, which helps an individual execute the same action without thinking about it. This is crucial for any dancer as retaining muscle memory will help them in their dance technique and movements in class when they return after the summer break.
Muscle memory is important for the development of gross and fine motor skills. which is why it is important to maintain your body’s muscle memory.
2. To Preserve the Fine and Gross Motor Skills they have acquired
A gross motor skill is a skill that involves the big muscles in your body. A gross motor skill would be walking, running or dancing because they all use many of the large muscles in your body to accomplish them.
Fine motor skills generally refer to those movements that involve smaller muscle groups in the hands, wrists, and fingers. Examples of fine motor skills are writing, eating with utensils, or tying shoelaces. But for dancers these also include those muscles used pointing their feet, articulating the hands, or isolating the ankle and feet muscles to tap dance.
It is important for dancers to maintain their gross and fine motor skills during breaks so these skills are not lost and need to be relearned when they return back into the class which
3. To Prevent Injury when they go back to dance classes
It’s important for your child to maintain their strength and flexibility over the holidays because anything less could lead to injury. Injuries are common for dancers especially after coming off a break. Your child may attempt to do something they could do before the break, not realizing they have lost the flexibility or strength to do it at the same capacity and end up injuring themselves.
4. Movement and exercise play a huge role in how children’s bodies grow!
Kids grow fast and their bodies change quickly. Over one summer your child may have a growth spurt or find their limbs are longer. Therefore if they stop stretching for example, they could lose the flexibility they had or if they had mastered a pirouette, they may come back to class feeling unbalanced and no longer able to execute the skill. If they had kept practicing over the holidays, they would have made small adjustments to compensate overtime for this growth rather than having to start almost from scratch again at the beginning of the dance season.
Kids’ muscles also need to be used in order for them to grow stronger. Bones and muscles are strengthened when they are required to do the work of holding up weight and opposing gravity. When they practice dance-specific moves or activities that stimulate similar muscles, they are developing what people call a dancers body. Now a dancer’s body does not mean they are long and lean and skinny, it means they have a body that has the muscle tone to execute dance movements. In particular, you will notice they have better posture and core strength than their peers. Encouraging your dancer to do some sort of dance-focused physical activity each day, not only builds the right muscles for dancing but also strengthens their bones and ligaments!
5. To develop good dance habits and discipline
To master dance, you need to be disciplined – not talented. Becoming the best dancer can take hard work and commitment. But being disciplined is actually just having good habits that you naturally do and don’t have to think too hard about. Having a summer stretching or strengthening routine can help develop good habits and discipline for life!
6. To keep up with their fitness levels
Maintaining dance training over the summer can help your child to keep feeling fit and healthy, which is important for their mental wellbeing. Sometimes though, as your child is not in the dance studio keeping up their cardio and aerobic exercise which helps the heart become and stay strong can be hard. Therefore they should keep up with their fitness levels by engaging in other physical activities, such as cycling or running. Encourage them to play games outside with other kids such as tag or join in a soccer game that involves a lot of huffing and puffing.
7. To Retain Flexibility
There is a saying that If you don’t move it, you lose it! And this applies to flexibility. If you have a break from your ballet and dance training for too long then your muscles can start to tighten up and stiffen without the stretching that dancing provides. Flexibility needs to be worked on consistently for the muscles to maintain their length especially when kids are growing as their flexibility can change as their body grows and changes.
Losing your flexibility can also lead to other injuries, muscle strains, and even time off from dance training – so it’s really important not to let that happen!
8. To Maintain Dance Motivation Over Break Periods
Summer break is a LONG TIME! Having a couple of weeks off can be great, but having 6-8 weeks away from your dance studio can sometimes leave a dancer who may not have had the best previous season less motivated to go back after their break. This break period could be a great opportunity for your child to try some different dance styles or take some online lessons with a variety of teachers or even attend a summer dance camp that is focused on fun rather than working hard to perfect skills.
9. Your child will feel confident going back after the break.
If your child has had the opportunity to maintain their skill level over the holiday break it will allow them to feel confident when going back to their dance studio after their break. They’ll know what they’re doing, be confident in their dance ability and of course, they’ll be able to focus on the excitement of seeing their friends again!
10. To stay on top of the competition.. (only for those really into their dancing!)
This one really is only for those who are contemplating dance as a career. The reality is that now more than ever, your dancer needs to be disciplined in their training because there will always be those who continue to train during breaks. They will not necessarily be more talented than your child but because hard work will win over talent, those other dancers will become better faster especially if your child does not have the discipline of their own summer dance maintenance routine. As a parent, you might think that taking time off from dance is a good thing, and a short break is always good, but it is important to not forget that habits create discipline!
One of the main reasons that dancers need to maintain their dance training over the summer holidays is because ballet training for example is not just about a dancer’s physical abilities. Ballet dancers also need to be strong and flexible, both physically and mentally.
How to help your child keep up their Dance Training over the summer holidays
The Sydney Dance Company encourages their dancers to have a summer break routine where they attend two classes per week on Monday and Friday mornings. Other dance schools and companies will offer similar advice. Your dance studio may offer summer dance programs or you might research and find an overnight dance camp or day dance camp program, workshops and or for the dedicated dancer a summer dance intensive. And there are always online lessons you can do as well – but how much your child does is ultimately up to you and them, you need to come up with the balance that is perfect for your child and family between rest and maintenance.
We also have tonnes of ideas here on the Dance Parent 101 website which you can take a look at! Check out some of the ideas and information in the article below!