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Traditional Dances & Week in Review

Dear Debi,
How can I use traditional cultural activities to teach my child about his family history?
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Dance provides children with a tangible way to explore their cultural heritage
  • Learning about your cultural heritage helps children create a sense of identity and build self-esteem
  • Expand childrenís cultural horizons by inviting parents or neighbors to demonstrate other culturesí traditional dances
Donít forget about the great things that we learned this week:
Expert Advice
Moises Roman
Moises Roman
UCLA Early Care & Education Department
Itís important for both children and adults to be in tune with their cultural heritage. Remember that ethnicity and race may be separate from an individualís cultural practices. For example, someone who grew up in Alaska might practice traditional Native Alaskan traditions, but they might be African American or Mexican American.

While we can explore our culture through books and videos, a tangible and fun way to look at culture is through dance. Dance is a way to make culture and traditions relevant to children so that it moves from an abstract idea to a concrete understanding. Itís also a great way to continue learning about your heritage and create a sense of identity and build self-esteem.

As young as the age of 3, kids are starting to make sense of who they are and where they come from. By providing opportunities for children to experience their culture in a hands-on fashion, such as through dance, you can introduce and explore cultures.

Every culture has some kind of music that goes along with it. Dance is a natural extension of music, so often there will be some kind of dance associated with a culture. You can use a variety of materials to begin exploring your culture and the traditional dances of your heritage. For example, you can use books, CDs, magazines, photographs, and oral stories from family members.

If you are a child care provider, you most likely will be caring for children of various cultures. A great on-going activity would be to explore each childís heritage through dance. For example, if you have a child who is a part of the Filipino culture, you could invite that childís parents to come and show the children a traditional dance. If youíre a parent, you and your child can take part in the process of finding out about your traditional dance Ė even learning to perform the dance together.

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