Dance movement therapy is incorporated into preschool curriculum

For South Florida News Service.

By Crystal Chew and Matias J. Ocner

At Play and Learn Preschool, 10 children gather around a blue and red foam square matt during their afternoon creative movement class. They sit with their legs “criss-cross-applesauce” and are asked how they are feeling today.

“Don’t tell me with your words, tell me with your body,” said Jennifer Puig, 30, the creative movement teacher and certified dance movement therapist at the preschool.

Jack, 5, who is one of Puig’s students, starts to jump up and down with a bright smile and a fruitful laugh.

Puig hopes her class will teach children like Jack how to have a strong connection with their own self and body.

“If there is one thing that all students should take away from this [class], it’s the importance and value of body movement communication,” said Puig.

The director and teachers at Play and Learn agree that Puig’s class has aided students socially.

“Jennifer does a great job at helping the kids develop their awareness of where they are in space, where they are related to the other kids and where they should be in order to respect other people’s spaces,” said Rosa Fernandez, director at Play and Learn Preschool.

Puig who moved to Barcelona, Spain, in 2008 to pursue studies in Dance Movement Therapy – the use of choreographed or improvised movement as a way of treating social, emotional, cognitive and physical problems – moved back to Miami in 2011 and decided to teach what she had learned.

“She helps me, the teachers and the families,” said Fernandez. “She’s always there for you and we are very lucky to have her.”

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