Children move. They move to get from one place to another, they move to express their feelings, and they move because it feels good! When you structure these movements, it's called dancing.
The experience of learning to dance helps a child develop physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. People were always aware of the physical benefits, but are now starting to appreciate the importance of the emotional, social and cognitive benefits as well.
"Students who regularly participate in dance lessons typically tend to perform better academically than their nonparticipating peers. "Family Talk Magazine" estimates that students who have a background in dance tend to achieve significantly higher SAT scores and do better in math and science competitions."
The following is taken from "Standards for Dance in Early Childhood" that appears on the National Dance Education Organization website.
The Benefits of Dance
Dance involves a greater range of motion, coordination, strength and endurance than most other physical activities. This is accomplished through movement patterns that teach coordination and kinesthetic memory. Dancing utilizes the entire body and is an excellent form of exercise for total body fitness. Young children are naturally active, but dance offers and avenue to expand movement possibilities and skills.
Dance promotes psychological health and maturity. Children enjoy the opportunity to express their emotions and become aware of themselves and others through creative movement. A pre-school child enters a dance class or classroom with a history of emotional experiences. Movement within a class offers a structured outlet for physical release while gaining awareness and appreciation of oneself and others.
Dance fosters social encounter, interaction, and cooperation. Children learn to communicate ideas to others through the real and immediate mode of body movement. Children quickly learn to work within a group dynamic. As the ongoing and sometimes challenging process of cooperation evolves, children learn to understand themselves in relation to others.