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The Influence of the Dance Creativity on Executive Functions of Early Childhood

  • Universitas Negeri Jakarta
The Influence of the Dance Creativity on Executive
Functions of Early Childhood
Elindra Yetti, Erie Siti Syarah, Muktia Pramitasari, S. Syarfina, Debie Susanti
Universitas Negeri Jakarta
Jakarta, Indonesia,,,,
Abstract—The purpose of this study is to find out the
influence of dance creativity on executive functions of early
childhood. The research method used is a quasi-experimental
design with paired data t-test analysis. This study was conducted
on 50 respondents aged 5-6 years. The results showed that t hit >
t table, sig <0.01 there was a significant difference between before
and after the dance creativity activities implemented. Based on
the result of this study, it can be concluded that dance creativity
can significantly influence the executive function of early
childhood. Further research can be carried out by involving
other variables that affect executive functions along with other
dance creativity activities.
Keywords—dance creativity; executive functions; early
It has become common knowledge that adult behavior is
determined by the period of human development when they are
in early childhood. Felver stated that executive functions (EFs)
variable is the most important thing among all psychological
variables that influence the development of healthy children
and adolescents [1]. EFs deals with family care processes that
are needed to intentionally change behavior, pay attention, and
act in ways that have become habit. EFs skill which is
developed comprehensively allows children to manage their
behavior, take care of themselves and others through decision
making and non-impulsive actions. Other important skills that
depend on EFs such as concentrating on tasks, following rules,
and achieving long-term goals and objectives. EFs is very
important for healthy development in recent studies, Diamond
in his research concluded that EFs skill is one of the most
important aspects of ability for someone success in the twenty-
first century [2]. His findings also highlighted the importance
of understanding and increasing EF on childhood and
Benavides-Nieto, Romero-López, Quesada-Conde, &
Corredor stated that in several studies there is relationship
among EFs deficits, psychopathological and difference
behavioral disorders [3]. Research on EFs development in
children has increased in the past decade. The increasing of
social competence and academic achievement are also related
to EFs. The study tried to understand the relationship between
executive functions and social competence in 5-year-old
children. It’s involved 119 students (60 boys and 59 girls) from
the age of 5 years who were enrolled in the last year of
kindergarten in Granada. The result showed that there was a
positive relationship between social skills and EFs. This fact
showed that it was very important to increase EFs in children
and learn the factors influenced.
One of the most important focuses on research about EFs is
the relationship between EFs development and school
readiness and academic achievement. Studies that included in
the Abreu Research Topics provide further evidence of the
value of EFs predictions in academic learning, and especially
reading [4]. Critically, they also clarify the importance of the
EFs process for children's mathematics learning, and show how
the role of EFs can increase when children in playgroup to
kindergarten [5] and then decrease in adolescence [6]. Some
findings are mapping the effect of EFs on academic learning
are very important for designing effective interventions that
target strategic time points in their development. Existing
research indicated that the training program can effectively
improve academic achievement [7], although socio-
environmental factors, such as housing conditions, can impact
the effects of cognitive intervention in children [8].
Cognitive development that related to executive function in
each child is sometimes not as expected by parents because of
several influencing factors such as heredity, environmental
factors, maturity factors and the like. Therefore, the best and
most enjoyable stimulation for early childhood is needed to
improve executive functions from an early age, such as through
dance creativity activities and developing self-confidence.
Giguere, in his research from two schools in the United
States found that twenty-seven sub-categories found good
improvement results in dance creativity, such as making dance
movements or organizing dance movements [9]. It was proven
that cognition processes work well during the creative process
in the dance, and there is a detailed description of the
characteristics of the cognitive activity. The next finding is,
regarding some cognitive strategies involved in the creative
process in dance, as seen in this study, it requires a group to
carry out dance creativity activities, and cannot be done only
by an individual. The last finding is that children involved in
dance creativity are involved in communication, not only
verbal and nonverbal communication, but also forms of verbal
and non-verbal communication which is termed as "active
1st International Conference on Arts and Design Education (ICADE 2018)
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Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 255
discussion" research. These appear as subcategories in several
research categories
Recent experimental research indicates that both acute and
chronic aerobic exercise promote children’s executive function.
Overall, engagement in physical activity (or more specific
aerobic exercise) is also a cognitive activity that recruits
higher-order brain regions and requires adaptive thinking.
Aerobic exercise, including motion and song, then, may be an
invaluable part of children’s development, and these findings
should persuade parents and educators to reconsider the
importance of these exercise [10].
Based on various problems regarding the executive
function of early childhood that have been explained, it is
important to conduct a research on the influence of dance
creativity activities on executive functions of early childhood.
The purpose of this study is to find out the influence of dance
creativity on executive functions of early childhood.
A. Executive Functions (EFs)
EFis the cognitive ability needed to control and regulate
thoughts, emotions and actions. Separation is often made
between cool components from EFs which explicitly involve
cognitive abilities such as arithmetic mental abilities
(mathematical numeracy skills) and hot components that reflect
the ability to regulate emotions such as being able to control
anger [11]. The executive function is basically located in the
prefrontal frontal lobe area with many connections between
neurons to the cortical, sub cortical, and brainstem areas. The
executive system is mediated by various tissues in the frontal,
parietal and occipital cortex, thalamus, and cerebellum. It is
related through a series of circuits that connect each region of
the central nervous system. Each circuit regulates special
functions. Circuits that are very responsible for coordinating
executive functions are located in the frontal lobe [12].
Scientific evidence of the development and consequences
of executive functions in the early years of human life convey
three important messages. First, executive function skills are
important structures in the brain for early development of both
cognitive and social capacity. Second, both normative
differences in the nature of individual development and the
impact of difficulties will significantly affect the development
of EFs for each child. Third, several interventions focused on
supporting the development of certain EFs skills have
demonstrated at least short-term effectiveness, with evidence
also emerging that EFs might have an impact on other aspects
of learning as well [13]. Kuhn suggested that EFs involves
cognitive activities at a higher level such as reasoning, making
decisions, monitoring critical thinking, and monitoring one's
cognitive development [14,15].
Based on several expert opinions, it can be concluded that
EF is a cognitive control which is a set of cognitive processes
(including attention control, inhibitory control, working
memory, cognitive flexibility, reasoning, problem solving, and
planning) needed for cognitive control of behavior, namely the
ability to choose and successfully monitor behavior that
facilitates the achievement of certain chosen goals.
B. Dance Creativity
Dance creativity for early childhood is an activity that
involves exploration of movement. The dance movement is
arranged according to the important and the closest themes to
the child's daily life. The emphasis on children's dance
creativity is to hone the child's sensitivity and aesthetic
experience. Early childhood education institutions can provide
a real experience for early childhood to become more aware of
the movements they see and learn in the world around them, try
it for themselves, and pay attention to how it feels to move or
dance [16].
Stinson also said that dance provides an opportunity for
early childhood to learn about themselves and show how they
feel about people, objects, and phenomena [16]. Purcel
explained that dancing benefits early childhood in three main
developmental aspects, namely, psychomotor development,
affective development, and cognitive development. The
benefits of each new movement that learned by children
provide a lot of information to children about their body's
abilities. In the same way, when children learn to dance, they
learn how their body works, they also learn how they feel at
work. Body movements are always a way of communicating
feelings. Creative movements in dance are a function of the
body's biological rhythms through dance. Children develop
self-control, especially in reactions to feelings such as anger,
fear and joy. Dance can also provide a means to communicate
feelings and be successful in sharing those feelings. Children
always feel successful with their expressions and begin to
appreciate differences. Besides, children learn about personal
space versus shared space (in dance formations) so that help
children to practice sharing ideas and compromise through
invaluable skills in the process of education for each child [17].
The synthesis of dance creativity activities is an exploratory
guide to movement concepts that designed to increase
children's awareness and understand the experience of physical
movements, which children are at the centre of. Creativity
involvement and challenges in doing dance are part of every
valuable experience for children.
This study used quasi-experimental method with data
collection techniques through questionnaires on 50 respondents
in the Central Jakarta. The respondents were five-to six-year-
old-children which are in kindergarten level. The samples were
obtained using multistage cluster random sampling technique.
The data was analyzed by using statistical analysis of paired t-
tests calculated by the SPSS program.
A. Result
The results of data analysis on 50 respondents before and
after the experiment of dance creativity activities can be seen in
the table below:
Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 255
Paired Samples Statistics
Std. Deviation
Std. Error Mean
Pair 1
The data in the table above shows the normal standard error
so that it is said that the data error rate is low and can be used
for paired t test.
Paired Samples Test
Paired Differences
Sig. (2-
Std. Error
95% Confidence
Interval of the
pre -
If t hit = -13.197
t table = 2.660, Therefore
-13.197 > 2.660 t hit > t table, H0 is rejected means H1 is
accepted. Therefor there are significant differences between
before and after doing dance creativity activities.
Paired Samples Correlations
Pair 1
pre & post
If using Sig (p-value) Sig. (2-tailed) = 00,1
then, 0,00 < 0,01
B. Discussion
The findings in this study note that before dance creativity
activities were applied, children's EFs were quite low; this was
related to a learning system that was less varied and less
attractive to children. Children often have difficulty in short-
term memory, lack of self-control, such as not understanding
the voice used inside or outside the classroom, difficulty
solving problems and lack of attention. This happened because
executive self-control at an early age is varied, fragile, and
bound to external stimulus situations with increased stability
achieved between the ages of 18 and 30 months [18]. In
preschoolers, executive functions can be distinguished by using
tasks that are appropriate to development, as adapted from
cognitive development of neuroscience. For example, working
memory, flexibility, and inhibitory skills can be discriminated
against in preschool children [19]. The development of
research on early childhood executive function shows more and
more evidence that different neurological and behavioral
disorder in preschoolers produce a unique pattern of executive
dysfunction [19-23].
The second finding on the results of the post-test of
children after being given dance creativity activities was that
the FEs of children increased significantly. Basically every
child likes music and moves, this is in accordance with the
findings of the study from Ilari that in more spontaneous
rhythmic movements found the response of children to music
and regular stimuli of metrics rather than speech [24].
Similarly, the results found in the study of Williams et al.
investigated the home music activities of parents of 3031
Australian children who participated in Growing Up in
Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children
Studies (LSAC). The findings of Williams et al. research show
that home music activities between parents and children play a
role in supporting children's development [25].
It is also supported by research conducted by Putranto,
there is a significant increase in short-term memory function
after the implementation of brain exercise 3 times a week for 2
months in children from low economic status families [26].
FEs can be improved through dance creativity activities that
involve motion and song. Research Moreno et al., has designed
training methods that can be used to improve mental health and
to test the efficacy of educational programs [27]. However,
several studies have shown a broad transfer of such training to
performance in cognitive activities that are not trained. The
findings report the effects of two interactive computerized
training programs developed for preschoolers: one for music
and one for visual arts. After only 20 days of training, only
children in the music group showed improved performance on
measures of verbal intelligence. Music easily stimulates
children to spontaneously move in creative dance. 90% of the
sample showed this increase. The findings showed that transfer
of high-level cognitive skills in early childhood can be done so
that exploration of dance movements produces many variations
of creative dance movements.
Research by Janus, Lee, Moreno, and Bialystok has
identified an increase in performance on executive control
tasks for bilingual in those who have music training [28].
Using an intervention design in 57 children aged 4-6 years
(matched for age, maternal education, and cognitive scores)
with instruction programs in music or French conversation in
20 days. The results of the discussion in terms of the benefits of
executive control arise from language and music training. The
research provides evidence that music in dance creativity
activities can affect children's EFs.
Based on the findings and discussion of the results of the
study, it can be concluded that dance creativity activities can
affect the Executive Functions (FES) of early childhood.
Furthermore, research can be conducted involving other
variables that affect the Executive Functions together with
dance creativity activities.
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Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 255
... Dance includes a wide range of social behaviors [41] and constitutes a natural means of emotional expression [42]. It develops self-control, especially in reactions to feel-ings such as anger and fear [43]. Moreover, it provides a means to communicate and share feelings. ...
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Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with multifactorial causes, characterized by major cognitive deficits in communication, socialization and emotion recognition and management. Children with autism face a memory mechanism malfunction, difficulty in the control processes (i.e atten-tional regulation and / or organizing their knowledge in order to make the appropriate decisions solving problems), making it difficult for them, adapt to various environmental changes. Many researchers have shown the effectiveness of robots in developing metacognitive skills to autistic children, as well as in improving social skills, emotion awareness and communication. This article highlights the detailed research took place between 2010-present, while examining the impact of robots on autistic children through their interaction, use of art, programming, cooperative games and mindfulness training. The outcome of this review emphasizes to the ability of children, to manage and develop mechanisms such as self-control, self-reflection, visualization, focus attention, self-evaluation, self-regulation among others, necessary for their self-awareness. These results to helping children develop the higher mental abilities needed, so that decision-making and problem-solving achieved in their daily life.
... Other forms of symbolic, interactive movement, such as dance or artistic expression, may also be a source of experiential learning (Singer, Singer, D'Agnostino, & DeLong, 2009;Yetti, Syarah, Pramitasari, Syarfina, & Susanti, 2019). Expressive movement and the arts encourage reflection, imaginative problem-solving, exploration, and emotional regulation in early childhood (Deans, 2016;Ebert et al., 2015;Winner, Goldstein, & Vincent-Lancrin, 2014). ...
The controlled measurement of creative potential in early childhood is imperative for researchers seeking to fully understand the initial emergence and development of creativity. Evidence for original ideation has been demonstrated in infants as young as one year old, through their performance of movement-based, interactive creativity tasks. In this focused review of developmental research, we suggest that embodied movements and interactive play may uniquely facilitate creative thinking in early childhood (i.e., from birth to age six). From this review, we propose that embodied movement reinforces physical interactions that influence cognitions underlying creative behavior. Embodied creativity may supplement traditional creativity measures, as young children may be more inclined to represent their inner thoughts and experiences through movement rather than through language alone. Thus, we explored the importance of embodied creativity as a means of informing current researchers about the development of creativity, and we suggest future experimental research in this area.
... Other forms of symbolic, interactive movement, such as dance or artistic expression, may also be a source of experiential learning (Singer, Singer, D'Agnostino, & DeLong, 2009;Yetti, Syarah, Pramitasari, Syarfina, & Susanti, 2019). Expressive movement and the arts encourage reflection, imaginative problem-solving, exploration, and emotional regulation in early childhood (Deans, 2016;Ebert et al., 2015;Winner, Goldstein, & Vincent-Lancrin, 2014). ...
A growing body of experimental work highlights the potential value of unstructured, interactive, or spontaneous motions, including gestures, dance, shifting body postures, physical object‐manipulation, drawing, etc. to favorably impact creative performance. However, despite these favorable findings, to our knowledge, no systematic review has been conducted to explore the totality of evidence for embodied activities in this arena. Thus, the objective of this paper was to systematically evaluate the potential effects of embodied experimental manipulations on traditionally assessed creativity outcomes. A systematic review was conducted utilizing PubMed, PsychInfo, Sports Discus, and Google Scholar databases. The 20 studies evaluated employed a variety of methodological approaches regarding study design, embodied manipulation, and selection of specific creativity outcomes. Despite these variations, embodied movement robustly enhanced creativity across nearly all studies (90%), with no studies showing a detrimental effect. Based on the evaluation of the studies reviewed, several common themes emerged. These included the relevance of symbolic metaphors and distributed embodied cognitions, selection of embodied modality, specific measurement considerations, as well as the importance for implementing true, inactive control conditions in embodied creativity research. This review expands on these findings and places them in the context of improving future embodied creativity research.
In the current study, we examined the effect of an aerobic dance program as part of physical education (PE) classes on aspects of primary school children’s executive functions (EFs) (inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility). Participants were 41 children (21 boys and 20 girls; M age =10.30, SD = 0.50 years, M height = 134.09, SD= 3.9 cm; M weight = 35.61, SD = 7.85 kg) who were divided into an experimental group (EG) and a no-PE control group (CG). The EG followed an aerobic dance intervention as part of their PE program (45 minute sessions two days per week over eight weeks). Participants in both groups performed EF tests before and after the intervention period to evaluate their mental flexibility, inhibition, and working memory. A two-way mixed model repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant effect of the aerobic dance program on participants’ cognitive flexibility (i.e., on Trails Making Tests B-A times and committed errors) ( p <0.001), and on Stroop measures of inhibition (corrected number of words and corrected errors) ( p <0.001 and p <0.01, respectively), with post-hoc analyses showing an improved performance by the EG in working memory (digit recall score) from pre-test to post-test and in comparsion to the CG ( p < 0.001). Thus, this 8-week aerobic dance program promoted EF development among primary school children.
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The purpose of this study was to replicate and extend previous findings on spontaneous movement and rhythmic engagement with music in infancy. Using the identical stimuli and procedures from the original study, I investigated spontaneous rhythmic movements in response to music, infant-directed speech, and contrasting rhythmic patterns in 30 Brazilian infants (ages 5, 11, and 19 months). Findings were consistent with the original study in that more spontaneous rhythmic movements were found in response to music and metrically regular stimuli than to speech. Brazilian babies, however, showed higher means for spontaneous rhythmic movement to music than those reported in the original study. Consistent with the developmental systems approach, these results suggest that culture plays a larger role in spontaneous rhythmic engagement to music and rhythmic entrainment than previously suggested.
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The benefits of early shared book reading between parents and children have long been established, yet the same cannot be said for early shared music activities in the home. This study investigated the parent–child home music activities in a sample of 3031 Australian children participating in Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) study. Frequency of shared home music activities was reported by parents when children were 2–3 years and a range of social, emotional, and cognitive outcomes were measured by parent and teacher report and direct testing two years later when children were 4–5 years old. A series of regression analyses (controlling for a set of important socio-demographic variables) found frequency of shared home music activities to have a small significant partial association with measures of children's vocabulary, numeracy, attentional and emotional regulation, and prosocial skills. We then included both book reading and shared home music activities in the same models and found that frequency of shared home music activities maintained small partial associations with measures of prosocial skills, attentional regulation, and numeracy. Our findings suggest there may be a role for parent-child home music activities in supporting children's development.
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This study examined executive functioning and reading achievement in 106 6-to 8-year-old Brazilian children from a range of social backgrounds of whom approximately half lived below the poverty line. A particular focus was to explore the executive function profile of children whose classroom reading performance was judged below standard by their teachers and who were matched to controls on chronological age, sex, school type (private or public), domicile (Salvador/BA or São Paulo/SP) and socioeconomic status. Children completed a battery of 12 executive function tasks that were conceptual tapping cognitive flexibility, working memory, inhibition and selective attention. Each executive function domain was assessed by several tasks. Principal component analysis extracted four factors that were labeled "Working Memory/Cognitive Flexibility," "Interference Suppression," "Selective Attention," and "Response Inhibition." Individual differences in executive functioning components made differential contributions to early reading achievement. The Working Memory/Cognitive Flexibility factor emerged as the best predictor of reading. Group comparisons on computed factor scores showed that struggling readers displayed limitations in Working Memory/Cognitive Flexibility, but not in other executive function components, compared to more skilled readers. These results validate the account that working memory capacity provides a crucial building block for the development of early literacy skills and extends it to a population of early readers of Portuguese from Brazil. The study suggests that deficits in working memory/cognitive flexibility might represent one contributing factor to reading difficulties in early readers. This might have important implications for how educators might intervene with children at risk of academic under achievement.
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Executive functions (EFs) include a number of higher-level cognitive control abilities, such as cognitive flexibility, inhibition, and working memory, which are instrumental in supporting action control and the flexible adaptation changing environments. These control functions are supported by the prefrontal cortex and therefore develop rapidly across childhood and mature well into late adolescence. Given that executive control is a strong predictor for various life outcomes, such as academic achievement, socioeconomic status, and physical health, numerous training interventions have been designed to improve executive functioning across the lifespan, many of them targeting children and adolescents. Despite the increasing popularity of these trainings, their results are neither robust nor consistent, and the transferability of training-induced performance improvements to untrained tasks seems to be limited. In this review, we provide a selective overview of the developmental literature on process-based cognitive interventions by discussing (1) the concept and the development of EFs and their neural underpinnings, (2) the effects of different types of executive control training in normally developing children and adolescents, (3) individual differences in training-related performance gains as well as (4) the potential of cognitive training interventions for the application in clinical and educational contexts. Based on recent findings, we consider how transfer of process-based executive control trainings may be supported and how interventions may be tailored to the needs of specific age groups or populations.
Executive function is responsible for directing self behavior in order to purposive and aims such as planning, organizing, problem solving, self-monitoring skills and self regulation. This function is associated with frontal lobe (center of think). The main components of executive function are anticipation (set realistic expectations, understanding the consequences), planning (organization), execution or implementation (maintain flexibility), self-monitoring (emotional control, error recognition). Dysfunction executive (deficit of executive functions) is one cause of disability in the client's mental disorders so that clients of mental disorders commonly have difficulty in performing activities of complex psychological like behavior of complex, purposeful, targeted and selective attention, decision-making, judgment, selection, planning, and flexibility. Neuropsychological rehabilitation efforts can be used to improve executive function (executive function) thus will significantly improve emotional health, social functioning, and independent skill. The rehabilitation program consists of a variety of techniques that include Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT), verbalization, goal setting and cognitive remediation.
This book provides both a review of the literature and a theoretical framework for understanding the development of visual attention from infancy through early childhood, including the development of selective and state-related aspects in infants and young children as well as the emergence of higher controls on attention. They explore individual differences in attention and possible origins of ADHD.