Feeling their PLACE in this big world!
Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When we dance we begin with..."self and general space"! The dance concept, PLACE, invites you and your little one to explore moving on one spot in your "self-space" and traveling through the "general space".
The stop and go nature of this dance concept introduces your little one to the idea of controlling the action of their amazing body. It takes a lot of body control to stop after moving all around and this is one way you are helping your little one to lay the groundwork for emotional regulation and self-inhibitory control (which just happens to be a strong indicator for school readiness).
As they build a strong awareness of their body through playful stop and go activities like freeze dances, red light-green light, and exploring all the many ways they can move on one spot then go, go, go all around, they are doing just what they love while developing skills necessary for school readiness!
Self-Space is the space your little one’s body takes up. It is also called their kinesphere, which means movement sphere. Imagine turning, jumping, balancing, twisting, growing, shrinking, rising, and sinking inside a big bubble - this represents your little one’s movement in their self-space. Children develop the ability to control their muscles (and eventually their thoughts and emotions) through the exploration of the many ways there are to move in their self-space.
General space is the space your little one travels through (independently or in your arms) as you move around the room from one place to another. General space (usually) means interacting with other people and objects, so learning to travel inside their own kinesphere, helps your little one to feel where they are in the world and how they relate to others and objects around them. With your loving hand over hand guidance, in your arms, or side by side, try running, sliding, galloping, or marching through the general space. The key is to look for the empty space and go there! Dancing in general space brings awareness of their bodies in space (proprioception) and develops spatial awareness.
Although you can expect your little one to begin to independently regulate their emotions and impulses around the age of four, it takes years for this set of skills to fully develop (some adults are still working on this!) Before then, your little one will usually only be able to regulate their impulses and emotions when you are close to them, doing it together. So be sure to include lots of playful movement activities that give you and your little one the opportunity to experience moving on one spot and then all around. With time, they will gain independence to "do it myself"!