Background/Purpose: Quality elementary physical education programs recognize the changing development and movement abilities of children (NASPE, 2007), yet there is little research-based evidence to distinguish developmentally appropriate dances for this age group. This study examines developmental trends in the dance performance of children age six to nine and considers influences of prerequisite skills (beat competence and locomotor/nonlocomotor) on motor performance and beat synchronization in six structured dances.
Method: Participants were students in grades one through three (N=97; 1st= 32, 2nd= 35, 3rd= 30). Prerequisite skills testing occurred prior to dance practice using the Beat Competence Analysis Test (BCAT) (Weikart, 2006) and locomotor/nonlocomotor skills test based on Weikart's (2006) dance step levels. Three practice sessions were followed by final video-taped dance performance. Motor performance and beat synchronization were evaluated for each dance by eight-count movement phrases.
Analysis/Results: Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson correlations, multiple regressions, and analysis of variance (ANOVAs).Results indicated: (a) age was a significant predictor of motor performance and beat synchronization, (b) beat competence was significantly and positively related to synchronizing dance movements to music, and (c) locomotor/nonlocomotor skill performance predicted motor performance and ability to synchronize movements.
Conclusions: The developmental trends in this study indicate students in grades one and two lack competence performing structured dance. Findings suggest the importance of beat competence and fundamental motor skill development prior to structured dance participation.
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