Picture a time you’ve felt “in the zone.” Maybe it was that time you rocked a presentation at work, or were absorbed for hours in a great novel.
Now imagine times you’ve recognized this state in your children — seeing it on their face before they scored their first goal, or while enthusiastically piecing together a science project.
These are all examples of “flow”, the psychological term for being completely absorbed in a task. It’s the peak state of focus and intrigue.
Benefits of Flow for Children
A good way to wrap your head around the benefits of flow with children is to think about the many benefits of play.
When a child is enjoying play time, they’re in a “flow state.” This means they’re feeling challenged, using their imagination, and identifying what’s meaningful to them.
In this state they learn the essence of motivation — not doing something for a reward, but for the experience.
When learning in the state of flow, children are shown to engage in deeper learning. It causes a state of euphoria that helps them set aside self-consciousness and focus completely.
Experiencing a state of flow also allows children to overcome challenges and build confidence for the rest of their lives. Plus, it can even encourage long term interests.
Helping your child experience the joys of being in the zone could be easier than you think. There are 5 necessary factors involved in reaching a state of flow — all of which are fostered by dance class.
1. Clear Goals and Progress Markers
To reach a state of flow, kids need to know they’re making progress. That means giving them clear goals and milestones.
In dance, it’s easy for children to see their progress — whether it’s memorizing 3 more steps, perfecting a leap before their next performance, or finally getting down the rhythm of a song.
As soon as children set foot in a dance class, their minds begin spinning with things they’d like to accomplish. Every little movement and attempt they make gets them one step closer to achieving that goal.
2. Immediate Feedback
Much like the need for goals to achieve, kids need outside feedback on whether they’re headed in the right direction.
Dance instructors are trained for just that. They know each child’s goals are a bit different. They take the time to get to know each child, and help guide them through the challenges and victories as they progress.
Encouraging guidance helps children to remain in a flow state without being overwhelmed by self-doubt.
3. The Right Amount of Challenge
Too much challenge (or challenge that far exceeds the experience level of a child) can cause an immediate sense of being overwhelmed and a loss of confidence. But too little challenge can leave children feeling bored and disengaged — far from the state of flow.
The flow state occurs when just the right amount of challenge is presented. All Mountain Kids dance classes are divided into not only age groups, but skill levels within those.
Instructors strive to ensure children are experiencing just the right amount of challenge to help them feel accomplished and motivated.
4. The Ability to Focus on the Task at Hand
No matter how much a child wants to learn something, sometimes having too many distractions is all it takes to have them miss out on the flow state.
Environment can impact this immensely. For example, imagine your child found a book they’re ecstatic to read, but only catch time to do so on the playground when their friends are urging them to play.
For them to fully engage with the book, it would be better for them to pull it out during silent reading time at school, or before lights out at night.
The dance class environment is geared to foster full focus on dance and dance alone. Children experience a room full of other children interested in the same things.
Not only that, but they’re in a room designed purely for dance activities with the guidance of an experienced instructor — the perfect recipe for engaging activities that create the ability to fully focus.
5. Something that’s Intrinsically Motivating
To experience flow state, children need more motivation than just a reward. They need to be learning new things that spark their excitement and engagement.
If your child loves dance, you’ll know. They’ll come home excited, leaping around, showing you all their new moves, and telling you about the friends they made. This, my friends, is your child describing their flow state.
It’s rare we see a child who doesn’t enjoy dance. It’s guided play with new friends and music. Who wouldn’t have a blast?
Dance isn’t just about winning at the recital. It’s about getting to know your body and emotions better, creating new connections, and overcoming challenges.
Flow state is being encouraged in more and more learning environments for a good reason. It helps children build focus, passion, and confidence.
The more they build on these things, the easier the flow state is to access, leaving them set up for success.