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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 1:11 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Basheva- -- yes, it's deplorable. The woman I USED to work for started doing this because she 1) had no sense of loyalty 2) thought it was worth the money she would save by giving classes in exchange 3) became a 'control freak' who wanted to feel completely in charge of her little, 'personally trained' teenage teachers. I left one year ago after putting as much blood, sweat and tears into that school as if it were my own for 10 years. Guess what? In that short a time, the children's classes have almost totally disintegrated. In fact, one of the two studio locations just closed. One of the teachers who still teaches (adults) there takes class with me at a different school. Someone asked her a few days ago what happened to the children's program over at "XYZ" School and she nodded over at me, and said, "That was the children's program." Next time you're thinking of replacing a middle-aged woman in cancer recovery with a teenager because you have no spine or loyalty, think again. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- it takes a lot more to teach than being able to lift your leg next to your ear. <P>P.S. If I had known I would get that many phone calls months later and that there would be that kind of exodus out of there by parents and youngsters alike looking for a new place to go, I would have thought long and hard about starting up my own school. As it is, the taste in my mouth is still so bad, that I'm not sure if I'm entirely ready for such an undertaking. <P>I know this is an emotionally charged response to your question, Basheva, but if it weren't for the outpouring from parents recently, I would think the last 10 years had been for nought.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 1:23 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Christina - teaching is never for nought - it just sometimes seems so - but it never is. <P>Years later that child, now grown, will remember the experience. The teacher may be long gone but the teaching lives on.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 1:32 pm 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Just to add my ten cents in - what is wrong with classes at this age being just for FUN!! Do they have to be attaining anything, does it matter if they prepare them better for dance. In the UK at present there is so much pressure education wise for children at a certain level to achieve certain goals that I think it is nice for children to sometimes have activities that are just for fun and at 3or4 surely that is what a dance or movement class is all about.<P>Yes I get the pushy mother's whose child is doing every activity under the sun at age 3 and yes that is sad but I also gat mothers who want their child to enjoy movement, to socialise to learn the basic discipline and life skills that dance can teach. And I have the 3 year old who thought the ballet shoes that Father Christmas brought her was the best present ever - better than any of the big box presents.<P>That age group can be hard work but they are also extremely good fun and satisfying when they finally manage to skip after months of trying. All age groups can be a challenge and a joy, I think it is purely down to your approach as a teacher.<P>As well as my own pre-school classes I teach at several nursery schools. They have noticed improvement in co-ordination, rhythm and confidence. They also find it helpful as I am a different face each week and it gets the children used to the many different adult faces they will encounter at school. there is also a worry in the UK about the lack of exercise children get - perhaps introducing young children to healthy hobbies is something we should all encourage - it may then be something they grow up with as a way of life - instead of just sitting in fornt of the TV or playing computer games all the time.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 3:02 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Rabbit -- I respect your beliefs and comments. And it may well be true that the child who begins at 7 or even 10 is no less prepared than the one who began at 3. I, too, don't approve of parental behavior when it means trying to get a child into pointe work before at least 10, or other such nonsense. Part of my job as a teacher is to teach the parents as well -- firmly but diplomatically. <P>However, I cannot agree that a child will get no more out of my pre-ballet program than they will in Kindergym (or its equivalent). There is just too much 'academia' and discipline and structure that I 'sneak' into my classes for children of that tender age. In other words, I am not just teaching creative movement but also introducing them to an aesthetic and to a discipline, not just play. And as to the question of "why can't it just be fun? at that age, I respond that children of that age, in my experience, have the most fun of all by showing me and themselves how much they are learning.<BR> <BR>Example:<P>I tell my children (3-5 years) that I am the "new girl" and they need to show me how to find the "wings" of the stage (I typically refer to the classroom as a stage because they love and respect the feel of doing all movement as a performance). Then they are told to "make close and gentle." They understand that to mean that they should move very quickly and quietly to the middle (having already had a lesson and reinforcement in the concept of "middle") of the room and get as close together as possible without bumping and giving each other "bo-bos." Then they form a circle by taking a giant step back and saying "one is apart." Then the other foot comes back and they say "two is together." They repeat this, usually up to counts 5 and 6. Then they open their arms wide to ensure they are not touching anyone, thereby making a beautiful large circle. They do this by themselves, with a great deal of pride, demonstrating to me, the "new girl." <P>One of many exercises in a circle at this age is a musical one where I hand out two sticks per girl. They are seated for this. They are to hold one stick in each hand quietly until Miss Chrissy is finished passing them out. What happens if I hear sticks banging together before that? <P>"You'll take them away, Miss Chrissy, and we won't do this exercise again until we're 35!" <P>"That's right, and I don't mean 'maybe'!"<P>Once we have our sticks, I put on a record with a clear beat. We clap our sticks together on the "1" and hold for 2, 3, and 4, then clap together on "1" and "2" and hold 3 and 4, and so on until we clap them on all counts. We have different ways and positions for clapping them including beating them on the floor. They watch each other and me to try to really hear the beat and to be together. When they are through the music goes into another song immediately, and Miss Chrissy is the "train," running around the circle with a basket for the sticks. If you're not alert enough to get your sticks in the basket when it passes, then you've "missed the train." <P>It's not exactly Kindergym stuff, especially when there may be complete silence for 10-15 minutes while they intently tell a story through mime and sign language. <P>I think the main difference is that I'm really testing them to think and ponder things. Something as fun as "Cinderella" ...<P>"Okay, I need six mice now to turn into beautiful horses," followed by squealing and craziness. <P>"Hold on, ballerinas. You know, Cinderella was beautiful because she was kind and gentle to even the smallest animals. Do you think she would run around scaring the poor mice and throwing them on the ground in front of the fairy godmother? No, she might get way down on the ground like this to make herself seem small and friendly. She would beckon (children love new words like this when you say them in an exaggerated way) to the mice. Then once she has it in her hand, it's still shaking from fright. Can you put your hands together gently around your mouse and show me how it's shaking inside? There, if you pet it gently, see how the shaking stops? Now that your mice aren't scared anymore, can you show me how you place it GENTLY on the ground instead of throwing it, like you did to those poor mice before? Oh, good job, you did that just like Cinderella would!"<P>I know this is a LONG response, but I truly believe even pre-ballet can be more than glorified babysitting. We can teach not only motor skills but beautiful concepts to even our youngest ballerinas.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 3:46 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 50
Location: Oregon USA
Hi, I'm new here. Anyway, I'm 14 and have been dancing since I was 3. I remember being 2 and begging my mom to sign me up for dance classes. I would watch ballet on TV and try to dance like them. When I was 3 I was finally old enough for classes. It didn't matter that all we did was walk on releve, skip and do a few other steps, I was so excited to be dancing. Even if you don't learn very much in the way of technique as a little kid, you learn to love dance and that love of dance has stayed with me for 11 years. Maybe some kids will get burnt out but the dedicated ones will stay. I don't think teaching a creative movement class to little kids can hurt as long as it is taught by an experienced teacher. I student teach creative movement classes and it's great to see their eyes light up when they come in. Creative movement also teaches disipline and coordination and it's FUN!


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 4:15 pm 
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Posts: 4725
Location: Australia
welcome dancer13 - Image -you make a wonderful observation, and your enthusiasm comes through your words in a refreshing way.<P>joanne- also great points - especially re the concern with lack of exercise, and also ALL the rest that you say!<P>christina, you have a superb way with words, and are obviously a great teacher. re this age group, i agree with whoever it was who said <BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>I think maybe you have to be something of an overgrown kid yourself to teach.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>actually, i think that was YOU!<P>i don't see you people posting above as being 'in conflict', though.....i recognise the kind of teacher YOU are for this age group - i have one friend with her own school who is just like that - REALLY packs the value in - and my guess is that rabbit is THAT good too! <P>such teachers are extremely rare in my experience - people who value the education of these little ones every bit as much as if they were teaching a university course.....even more so, actually....<P>but i think the point being made above, somewhere, is that there ARE other activities that can be taught just as well, that can provide the same kinds of enrichment and developmental experiences, without dance.....which is not to say that dance is in any way bad or wasted....but sometimes it IS, for the reasons mentioned above...<P>i laughed out loud at your story with dialogue....<P>the first REALLY excellent teacher of tiny kids i knew was a MAN, trevor dodd, who now lives in new zealand. he had a large family of little boys himself, then, and - yes - he WAS an overgrown kid! he was FULL of bubbling energy like kids are, and could play at work. he was a very good RAD teacher, which made for an unusual combination, since people often find that RAD teachers CAN be rather UN-fun loving, having adopted a very regimented rule-driven syllabus (but of course they need not be...) he was a rare one, though - especially to find a man who had those qualities - or maybe, what is rare is to find a man who feels like he is 'allowed' to SHOW that he HAS those qualities - instead of disguising or repressing them in the name of manliness...<P>just one other point- it is interesting to me to observe, that most posters in this thread are making 'statements' which are not in response to the previous poster....in other words, it seems like this topic is tapping into strong felings that people have, and they have to 'get them out', rather than be diverted by someone else's tack on the subject....or just engage in conversation. that's fine, of course - i'm just pointing it out...reading the thread i was struck by how many strong independent statements there are, without much feeling of linkage, so i'm guessing that people really feel a need to say some things......<P>trina, yours is a great post, i think, even without having read all the thread (as you say)- it fits right in and adds another valuable perspective.<P>basheva, in order to give you an answer - yes i agree with you about teenage teachers, although they CAN have the right kind of energy little kids can relate to, AND the kids tend to fall in love with them, whereas anyone over about 20 apparently looks close to death to these kids..i remember it well!<P>i think that (like many things) it depends on the individual, but i am not expecting any teen to be as good and thorough and understanding a teacher as rabbit or christina would be - they will not offer as RICH an experience - but some can still be very good, with good guidance and some supervision/mentorship.<P>i also agree with someone who said that having these teen teachers, who have come up through your school, CAN be a power trip for the principal, and avoids any outside influences coming in - and that's not a good thing.<P>thank you christina for these generous posts. Image<P><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited January 10, 2001).]

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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 5:17 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Gee, I thought just the opposite, Grace lol!!<P>One of the things that I enjoy about this board and this group of people is that I find there is a conversation and linkage in the posts. At other boards I find that people talk "past" one another. But, as is so often the case, it is a matter of personal perception. And that is mine.<P>I think that teaching the really young children, like most anything in life, is a matter of aptitude and taste. Some enjoy it and others don't. I enjoyed the 5-6 yrs olds - but I never taught the 3-4 yrs olds. I think I might enjoy that, and would be certainly willing to try it. Children are a fascinating group of human beings. <P>As to it being worthwhile, as long as there is no harm done, and the possibility for achievement exists, why not?<P>Welcome - glad to have you join us Dancer 13.<P> <p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited January 10, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 5:31 pm 
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Location: Australia
i guess, basheva, the reason 'why not?' is that some of us ARE suggesting that there IS potential harm to be done - either from poor teaching by the untrained teens you speak of, from teachers without adequate respect for the specific learning needs of these tiny ones, or from the possibility of potential talent being burnt out too young and 'wasted', in a lifelong sense.....<P>

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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 6:10 pm 
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Location: Australia
funnily enough, with reference to some comments further up the thread re the money-making aspect overtaking the real-benefit-aspect, i have just opened my local paper to check my school's advertising, and have seen a new ad....<P>up to now, because i didn't offer such classes, i have consistently recommended young-mum-callers to a program called 'Kindy Dance Time', for 3 to 5 yo, which sounded appropriate to me (rather than, to those 3-in-1 classes, that basheva described). <P>that program has just closed, and new one has just started advertising, called 'Kindermusik' - the ad offers "playing rhythm instruments, musical games, singing, movement & dance, creative storytelling and listening" - for .....wait for it.....<P><BIG><B>"Newborns to 18 months" !!!!!</B></BIG> <P>they also do "18 months to 5 years" - but really! - babies?! newborns? GET A GRIP! Image<P><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited January 10, 2001).]

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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 9:42 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 76
Location: BC , Canada
RE:<P>"i guess, basheva, the reason 'why not?' is that some of us ARE suggesting that there IS potential harm to be done - either from poor teaching by the untrained teens you speak of, from teachers without adequate respect for the specific learning needs of these tiny ones, or from the possibility of potential talent being burnt out too young and 'wasted', in a lifelong sense....."<P>Grace you have summed that up wonderfully<P><BR>RE:<BR>"Newborns to 18 months" !!!!! <P>they also do "18 months to 5 years" - but really! - babies?! newborns? GET A GRIP! <P><BR>O - My - Gosh!!!!<P> That is the most outrageous thing.<P>When doing these kinds of things people should stop and ask themselves two questions<P>1. To what purpose?<BR>2> To Whose benefit?<P>Now Christina:<P> You sound like just the person I would like to hire for these classes next year.<P>You have made some good points and I can see your great love for your students shining through. I still feel the way I feel about it but you have given me a great big smile to know that there are some teachers working with this age group who care as much as you do.<P>Basheva:<BR>The Combo classes you mentioned kind of remind me of an assembly line approach to dance teaching... I wonder that parents do not question the need to buy two or three pairs of dance shoes. I think eventually as parents become more educated this approach will not be so attractive. I also agree with you about teens as teachers, I feel it is unfair to both the students of such a class and the teens who are given more responsibility that they are ready for...they are wonderful assistans yes,<P>Rabbit<P>

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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 1:01 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Christina, I think you may have misunderstood me or perhaps I didn't explain very well. You are right when you say that children of that age find learning fun - they are like sponges at that age eager to learn and wanting to soak up everything they you show them. My classes for that age are as structured as any other class is for any age group - that is probably what makes them fun and as I stated there are several learning outcomes attached to them - i.e. improved rhythm, co-ordination, concentration etc. Basically I may have in mind that I would like my pre-school class to all be able to skip by the end of term, but if they can't it doesn't matter - after all they do all have plenty of time to learn. At that goals have to be for individual children and they need to be encouraged and praised for their own achievements not for attaining a teacher's target.<P>As for the discussion on teenage teaching of this age group - it is really the same for any age group, no one should be teaching a class single handedly who doesn't have the qualifications and/or experience. At any age damage can be done by incorrect teaching.<P>With dropout/burnout rates from my own experience and from some of the postings in this thread we can see that it is wholly dependant on the child some will go, some will stay with you forever whatever age they started. If a child at age three is desperate to go to dance classes - and to many it is the highlight of their week - isn't it better they go to a good teacher like the ones who have posted on this thread, rather than the type of establishment that Grace has mentioned.<P>Not everyone is suited to this age group - but there are some truly gifted teachers with the young and if they can instil in them a love of dance, movement or just exercise then surely this is worthwhile.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 6:12 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Well, I will be brave and ask again "why not?" if no harm is done. And the possible harm I would look for is explained below, as I see it.<P>It seems to me that if I had a child that age and she/he really wanted to do this type of activity and I could find a teacher with the talent and enthusiasm that Christina obviously has - and others on this board - I don't think I would hesitate. With no pressure on the child from either teacher or parent I think that little harm would be done and perhaps much good might accrue.<P>The harm that would worry me is if there is pressure, or an atmosphere of competition from either parents or teacher. And, as to the possibility of burn out - I think that would be mitigated if there is no pressure and the child knows that.<P>It seems to me as a parent, that it would be of benefit for the child to be in a group situation - learning to interact with others in a positive atmosphere. There are many other programs that do this too - such as Head Start here in the United States. What we are talking about here is dance and music types of activities rather than learning the alphabet or numbers as Head Start does. <P>In the end it all rests with the teacher conducting the class and the environment she provides, the imagination she brings to the class and the joy she imparts to the children. And if that is correctly done then I see no harm.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 6:14 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I am making this a separate post -<P>Newborn to 18 months is late for some LOL-<P>How about the advice expectant mothers are given to play music for the unborn children and even read to them? <P>I guess that can't do any harm - and the mother might learn to love Bach.......


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 7:44 am 
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Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Re: combining forms of dance in one class, our school had a brochure in which it said (I'm paraphrasing), "You wouldn't send your child for music lessons that were part piano and part violin, would you?"<P>Re: teaching at 18 mos., I spoke about this in my thread "Baby Yoga." There is a wonderful book I have that addresses how moms can interact with their babies through creative movement. I'm not sure I'm against some kind of a "Mommy and Me" type class to instruct how to do this -- just like the Baby Yoga. But then, after just a short seminar (even a one-day affair), I would think the moms would have enough info to try this on their own. I wish you all could have seen the joy on the baby's face when Dr. Parker was demonstrating baby yoga with it. I could have just grabbed those cheeks through the tv screen.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 8:50 am 
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Location: Pa, USA
About those teen teachers...an obvious reason to me is the liability issues in giving them a class to be responsible for fulltime. It is one thing to have a student assistant or an assistant teacher who is a teen--even on occassion if you are sick to allow a teen to lead the warm-up or give the class entirely. But to give a teen (who is still a minor and cannot be held liable for their action or inaction) the responsibility of these children (of any age) and the general responsibility of a classroom and all the little things that could go wrong--is asking too much of them. Even if nothing goes wrong with the class itself--what if suddenly (for the first time) a child has an epileptic seizure--will a teen really know how to handle it? Or if a child hurts themselves in class and it is serious, but the teen doesn't recognize this and asks them to continue...too much at stake to allow a teen to be responsible for an adult's job in my view.


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