ABCDance

ABCDance is a “literacy-through-movement” curriculum designed to move pre-school children in the Head Start program towards success in pre-literacy goals. 

ABCDance supports and fully integrates existing Head Start curricula aligned with PELI testing requirements for alphabet, vocabulary, phonological awareness, comprehension and the Common Core State Academic Standards. ABCDance has demonstrated measurable success in the pursuit of these goals. PELI test score improvement averages during these years has ranged from 37% - 107% in the 3 year old classrooms compared to 3 original control groups that showed improvements from 9-14%. These techniques have proved successful for the last three years (including the pilot year) for at-risk students hence narrowing the literacy gap. In its pilot year, the program was entirely funded by Wellspring due to the strong conviction the organization had in the cause and efficacy of this education. Since its inception; ABCDance has now received funding from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (including The John E. Fetzer Institute and Blanche E. Patterson Foundation), The Learning Network of Kalamazoo, Michigan Council for the Arts & Cultural Affairs (as part of a collaborative grant under the umbrella of Head Start), Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers and Head Start Kalamazoo.

The ABCDance curricula builds students’ social/emotional developmental skills as they experience, create, recognize, respond and problem solve. The students make connections using language and movement, gaining basic literacy concepts, vocabulary and reading skills in a whole-body immersive experience. Specific texts in the Creative Curriculum are selected as the vehicle to assist student learning. Audio companions (with music, sounds, syllables, and words) are created to support these texts and encourage movement. Activities are designed to deepen the understanding of the selected text by engaging students in movement and vocalization tasks, providing the tools for students to work together as individuals, with partners and within a larger group to make connections, persevere toward a shared goal, engage in problem solving activities / critical thinking processes, and improve reading skills and comprehension. This contributes to their preparation for Kindergarten Readiness, and narrows the socioeconomic literacy gap at a proven crucial learning stage from 0 - 5 years  when 95% of brain development occurs.

ABCDance has expanded from 45 students in its pilot year to the entire 3 year old Head Start population (300-400 students). Sessions ranged from 5 weeks to 10 weeks to 12 weeks to accommodate all of the 3 year old population, the academic year and other initiatives in the classroom. The program also includes culturally authentic storytelling dance performances with live African drumming mid way through the year (between residencies). The program is designed and delivered by culturally diverse professional dance artists, West African storytelling dance performers and percussionists, certified dance educators and certified Early Childhood educators all of whom are “teaching to identity” / cultural authenticity.