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Feature Friday - Diddy Dance (from 08/01/2021)

Welcome to our first Feature Friday of 2021. This week we are introducing another of our class

es, this time it’s our youngest students being featured as we look at what happens in our Diddy Dance class. This class is for children aged from 2 1/2 years and is a mixture of storytelling and dance skills to music.


In 2019 I became a Literacy Champion for the National Literacy Trust and, with my new hat, the format of these classes changed slightly from just the teacher led storytelling activities, to including a story time at the start of the session. After our initial welcome song and dance we sit down and read a book together, this will be the same book for, usually, half a term so the children become familiar with the story. Once we have read the book together we will then use that as a basis for our storytelling activities. This can be retelling the story we have just read through mime and dance, or using parts, such as a poem from the book, to base an activity on. The aim of these classes is to increase, amongst others, children’s literacy skills.


Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world and “Lacking vital literacy skills holds a person back at every stage of their life. As a child they won't be able to succeed at school, as a young adult they will be locked out of the job market, and as a parent they won't be able to support their own child's learning.” (National Literacy Trust)


The National Literacy Trust have some startling facts on their website:

  • 1 in 11 disadvantaged children in the UK say that they don’t have a book of their own

  • The longer children keep an enjoyment of reading going, the greater the benefits are in the classroom

  • Children who enjoy reading and writing are happier with their lives

  • Children born into communities with the most serious literacy challenges have some of the lowest life expectancies in England

According to the National Literacy Trust, a boy born in Stockton Town Centre (which has some of the most serious literacy challenges in the country) has a life expectancy 26.1 years shorter than a boy born in North Oxford (which has some of the fewest literacy challenges). What’s more, these inequalities even exist within the same communities: In Middlesbrough, a boy born in the ward of North Ormesby (which has some of the most serious literacy challenges in the country) has a life expectancy of 71.4 years, which is 11.6 years shorter than a boy born just 2 miles away in Marton East (which has some of the fewest literacy challenges in the country) who has a life expectancy of 83 years; the gap is 9.4 years for girls (76.5 years vs 85.9 years). (National Literacy Trust)


In 2018 the National Literacy Trust reported on their findings that children and young people who are the most engaged with literacy also have better mental wellbeing than their peers who are the least engaged. This is why I have introduced the books to classes with the aim of giving young children more access to stories and books, and positive experiences with reading, listening and speaking, with hope of encouraging an interest in reading and further development of their literacy skills. (For more information on all the above see: https://literacytrust.org.uk/information/what-is-literacy/)


As well as this we work on our physical development during our activities, this can be encouraging developmental skills such as two-footed jumping or skipping, to specific dance skills such as plie and battement tendu – bends and pointy toes to those not in the know! Each activity in our story will focus on a skill and these will be tailored to the needs of the class at the time. We have a set number of dance skills that we aim to achieve before moving up to the next class and these are ballet-based skills that are then transferrable to any of our other dance classes.


But it’s not just about literacy and dance! These are both important skills that we learn in class but there’s a myriad other skills that children develop during Diddy Dance:

  • Turn taking

  • Teamworking

  • Patience

  • Balance

  • Spatial awareness

  • Rhythm

  • Posture

  • Respect

  • Creativity

  • Independence

The list goes on! But many of these skills have been shown to be beneficial to children in all aspects of their life as they grow older. (For more information see: https://ideas.ted.com/why-dance-is-just-as-important-as-math-in-school/)


And whilst we are working hard we have our little mascots, Gerry and Ginger, who help me out stickers for good balance, great smiles, good listening, and many more skills and behaviours in class. These stickers are collected on a certificate that each child will take home once filled to show their development as we go.


All in all, it’s a great fun class with massive implications for growth and development! And I couldn’t say it better that one of my students who cried all the way home after his first class because he didn’t want to leave!


If you would like your child to experience all these benefits and more, book them in for a free trial class here https://app.classmanager.com/trials/mesh

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