Tap To Togetherness


Julie Pentz

Phone: (785) 532-5740

E-mail: jpentz@k-state.edu

Purpose of the Collaboration:

Tap to Togetherness describes how families can learn positive family and child development skills using tap dance for family engagement. It focuses on resources for families and collaborates with the Parents as Teachers Program. Engaged activities include bi-weekly tap dance sessions for children ages birth to Pre-Kindergarten and their families. These sessions encourage family interaction, challenge body movement coordination, facilitate adult and child listening skills and discipline, and encourage family relationships. Lesson plans have been developed with the following concepts as the primary focus: enhancing adult-child engagement; increasing positive family development; assessing and improving body movement and coordination; identifying sensory needs and collaborating on ways to meet children’s sensory needs through tap dance sessions; and strengthening family relationships. All these developmental processes have been measured using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Findings from the qualitative analyses, triangulated with the parent self-reports, indicate reductions in the amount of screen time adults use around their children. As the program proceeds over time, children and adults become more engaged, and the amount of screen time in the presence of children is reduced dramatically. It is not “dance class," but a comprehensive adult-child engagement activity. Since the program has been established, there has been a reduction to near-zero and zero in our sessions, respectively, of adult phone use during the sessions. The program has also expanded to Ghana and Kuwait.

Length of Partnership:

6 years

Community Partners:

Parents as Teachers

Community Impact:

The Tap to Togetherness program has consistently impacted the both national and international participants. Adults and young children can all be “students” in a shared activity: In the sessions, a phenomenon occurs wherein the level of difficulty is just challenging enough for adults to want to learn; and, at the same time, the level of difficulty is not too challenging for the children so they are tenacious. During these times, adults and children all become students. This is crucial for the transfer of activity from the sessions to the daily lives of participants. Adults report using their phones as a way to engage their children: Adults report using their smartphones to access the songs we use in the program. Then, they use their phones as a mini stereo system to play the music to which they dance together. Using smartphones as a means for coming together – as opposed to dividing a family – serves as an important model for demonstrating that families can use their smartphones for positive gains.

Institutional Partners:

K-State School of Music, Theatre, and Dance; College of Education; Departments of Kinesiology, Family Studies, and Food, Nutrition, Dietetics, and Health; Early Childhood Education; K-State Research and Extension

Institutional Impact:

The Tap to Togetherness program has consistently impacted the university and student service-learning. Engaged, involved, and conscientious community connections: Students involved in delivering the program have consistently indicated that they feel more attached to their community. They've stated that transition from performance service solely as community engagement to facilitating family practice is truly rewarding. Nuanced understanding of how research informs practice: Students who participate in both the research and practice aspects of the program have indicated that they better understand the importance of research for individuals, families and communities. They understand how their own data collection and analysis informs what the program does and how it is implemented. Increased awareness of actions, biases and perceptions: One of the most important student outcomes is an increased awareness of their own actions and techniques resulting from both reflecting on their work and viewing themselves during the video analysis.