Movement and Dance in Early Childhood


Mollie Davies

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  • Back Matter
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  • Series Listing

    Series Listing

    Mollie Davies: Movement and Dance in Early Childhood

    2nd edition 2003

    John Matthews: Drawing and Painting: Children and Visual Representation

    2nd edition 2003

    Marian Whitehead: Developing Language and Literacy with Young Children

    2nd edition 2002

    Rosemary Roberts: Self-esteem and Early Learning 2nd edition 2002

    Cath Arnold: Child Development and Learning 2–5 – Georgia's Story 1999

    Pat Gura: Resources for Early Learning 1997

    Chris Pascal and Tony Bertram: Effective Early Learning – Case Studies in Improvement 1997

    All titles are available from Paul Chapman Publishing

    The 0–8 series

    The 0–8 series edited by Professor Tina Bruce, deals with essential themes in early childhood which concern practitioners, parents and children. In a practical and accessible way, the series sets out a holistic approach to work with young children, families and their communities. It is evidence based, drawing on theory and research. The books are designed for use by early years practitioners, and those on professional development courses, and initial teacher education courses covering the age-range 0–8.


    View Copyright Page


    To Mary Wilkinson, dear friend and colleague, whose wisdom, patience and care guided me through the first edition and whose memory has sustained me through the second.


    Dr Mollie Davies holds an international reputation for her outstanding and scholarly work in the field of Movement and Dance Education. She has influenced many adults and young people with whom she has worked and her contribution has been honoured with an MBE for services to dance education and by a fellowship from the Royal Academy of Dance.

    The examples in this unique and ground-breaking book on movement and dance development from birth to eight years show her love of children and a depth of knowledge and practical experience in helping them to become skilled, creative and imaginative in a wide range of movement-oriented activities. She helps early childhood educators and parents in very practical ways and yet her guidance is always rooted in a sound theoretical understanding which she shares in a clear and accessible style.

    In this second edition of her book she has updated and expanded the text in the light of recent research and extended her investigation of how young children learn in and through movement. There are now two chapters devoted to dance. The first of these suggests strategies for working with young children while the second suggests ways in which the expressive and artistic aspects of children's movement can be appropriately located within the ‘Effective Framework for Adults Working with Children from Birth to Three’, the ‘Foundation Stage’ and at Key Stages 1 and 2. Both these chapters, as all others throughout the book, highlight the interrelationship of theory and practice.

    Tina Bruce
    Series Editor
    September 2002


    To all my colleagues, at various stages of my teaching career, I am grateful for the years of sharing which took place and for the wide range of opportunities given to me, many of which have provided material for my writing. And, of course, to the children whose movement continues to interest and delight me.

    My involvement with two institutions has played an important part in all the teaching and research which I have undertaken. The first is the Laban Art of Movement Studio (now known as Laban) where my fascination with the field of human movement began. To Rudolf Laban, Lisa Ullman and my many teachers there I am grateful, and especially to Dr Marion North, OBE, who taught me so much about the theory and practice of movement observation and its importance in personality assessment. My experience at the Laban Studio was followed immediately with my time at the Froebel Institute College and here my appreciation is to Molly Brearley, CBE, Principal of the College at the time and to Chris Athey, MEd, author and formerly Principal Lecturer in Education and Leverhulme Research Fellow. Each in her own way has helped me towards an understanding of the rich variety of ways in which young children learn.

    My thanks go to the parents, teachers and friends who allowed me to photograph their children and to record their activities and conversations. And to the parents who took photographs of their children for me. Their interest, curiosity and generosity have been an important source of encouragement. I hope that when they read what has been written and see the photographic images of their children they will understand what a significant contribution they have made. I am especially grateful to Terry Kane for his photographic contribution to the first edition and to the front cover of the second edition, to Niki Sianni for her photograph of ‘Mothers and Toddlers’ and to Catherine Ashmore for allowing the inclusion of her photographs of Hannah. I am indebted to Graeme Orrick, BSc, for the many hours he spent on the diagrams relating to Laban's work. The demands were considerable – his response always generous and informed. To Shu-Ying Liu I extend my appreciation for her permission to use an illustration of her research in Taiwan. I am particularly grateful to Dr Susan Danby for her detailed reading of the manuscript, for her constructive criticism and, above all, for sharing my interests. My sincere thanks go to Jean Jarrell MA for her ongoing support throughout the entire process, for allowing me to rehearse every idea that came to mind and entering into the debate.

    Marianne Lagrange, Commissioning Editor, and Saleha Nessa, Assistant Editor and all the publishing team at Sage have given invaluable guidance throughout the writing process. I have greatly valued their involvement and interest.

    Finally, I wish to convey appreciation to Professor Tina Bruce, my series editor, who has given me continuous support during the writing of this second edition. She has shared my interests and curiosity, and extended my thinking. I am most grateful to her for her encouragement, gentle guidance – and once again for keeping faith.

    Preface for the 0–8 Series

    The 0–8 Series has stood the test of time, maintaining a central place among early childhood texts. Practitioners have appreciated the books because, while very practical, the series presents a holistic approach to work with young children, which values close partnership with families and their communities. It is evidence based, drawing on theory and research in an accessible way.

    The 0–8 Series, now being revised and updated, continues to deal with the themes of early childhood which have always been of concern and interest to parents, practitioners and the children themselves. The voice of the child has, since 1989, been under threat in education. Each author has made an important contribution in their field of expertise, using this within a sound background of child development and practical experience with children, families, communities, schools and other early childhood settings. The series consistently gives a central place to the interests and needs of children, emphasising the relationship between child development and the socio-cultural learning with which biological and brain development is inextricably linked. The voice of the child is once again being understood as being important if children are to develop and learn effectively, and if adults helping them to learn (teaching them) are to be effective in their work.

    The basic processes of communication, movement, play, self-esteem and understanding of self and others, as well as the symbolic layerings in development (leading to dances, reading, writing, mathematical and musical notations, drawing, model-making) never cease to fascinate those who love and spend time with children. Some of the books in this series focus on these processes of development and learning, by looking at children and their contexts in a general way, giving examples as they go. Other books take a look at particular aspects of individual children and the community. Some emphasise the importance of rich physical and cultural provision and careful consideration of the environment indoors and outdoors and the way that adults work with children.

    As Series Editor I am delighted to reintroduce the 0–8 Series to a new readership. The re-launched series enters a more favourable climate than the original series, which survived (and flourished) in a hostile climate of literacy hours for four-year-olds, adult-led learning, and a lack of valuing diversity, multi-lingualism, imagination and creativity. This revised and updated 0–8 Series will inform, support and inspire the next generation of early childhood practitioners in the important work they do, in a climate which will encourage rather than undermine.

    I look forward to seeing the impact of the 0–8 Series on the next decade.

    Professor Tina Bruce
    London Metropolitan University
    October 2001


    In the seven years since this book was first published many changes have taken place. There have been significant publications in early childhood literature and a consequent increase in the understanding of young children and the variety of contexts in which they live and learn. The National Curriculum for pupils aged from five to eleven is fully operative and for the first time the Foundation Stage has been enshrined in law.

    Personally, a second edition has meant a ‘second chance’. A chance to revisit concepts and children, to read extensively, to make new observations and attempt to translate generalities into specifics and problems into opportunities. I have also been able to extend the trans-global perspective by references to children beyond the UK – in Finland, France, Germany, Puerto Rica, and Taiwan.

    Essentially, this book is about the multi-faceted role that movement plays in the lives of young children. It explores the nature and function of movement as a central part of their doing, thinking and feeling and highlights the pleasure and sense of well-being which is experienced as they are helped to come to maximise their bodily potential. It argues that attention given by adults to the development of their children's movement, and its significance in the learning process, is crucial right from the start of life. This is not only because it helps towards producing a well-tuned and articulate body, which in itself is a matter of considerable importance, but also because of the significant role movement plays in the development of feeling and thought.

    At the hub of the book is a framework of movement which, presented in Chapter 1, permeates the text. Each of the chapters considers one particular set of ideas which gives it a specific emphasis. However, rather like movement itself, these ideas also find their place in other chapters. In this reappraisal I have at times considered movement as a ‘virtual’ jigsaw puzzle where pieces fit, change and interlock, resulting in the uniqueness of each and every child.

    Having observed ways in which they can be helped to develop thinking, expressing and socialising skills through movement, children are then seen in their roles as early performers, creators and spectators. The physical, intellectual and expressive implications of these roles are developed further in relation to dance in statutory education where ideas are suggested, debated and reflected upon at the Foundation Stage and at Key Stages 1 and 2.

    Throughout, photographic illustrations inform the text. Because of the transient and momentary nature of human movement, at places they ‘become’ the text. The purpose of these, along with the classification, contextual examples, and general guidelines in which they are embedded, is to spark off procedures and practices – or ways and means – which seem most appropriate to a particular setting. Any specific use must be decided upon by the adults concerned, for not only are children unique but so also are the people who care for, nurture and educate them.

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