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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 9:45 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Excellent points, Jan! I have dealt with both diabetes and epilepsy with students.<P>Also -- just having the life experience of knowing when a child is being taciturn for no reason and is genuinely upset about something. I had a child just getting over pneumonia, who normally would have been a basket case, but I let her be my 'shadow' her first day back, and told her I could "really" use her help in holding my hand and accompanying me to the record/tape player, etc. and just telling her to dance as "gently" as possible. I didn't know she had been really sick, just sensed something was wrong. Later, her mother expressed a lot of appreciation, and the following Saturday, the little girl came in with a big smile and announced to me that she was all better and was going to do all of her work that day. <P>And what about the child I taught whose father was up on charges of pedophilia? How would a teenager handle the acting out of that child? Criminy!!!!<P>Nothing against teenage assistants. I've had a few over the years whose enthusiasm and maturity was much appreciated. They're kind of like grown-up, human Barbie Dolls to these little girls. They're pretty and young, they drive cars and go on dates, and they dance really well. They can serve a great purpose as role models and assistants. But the CHILDREN not only need a grown-up in charge, the PARENTS do too. Someone who can answer their questions, give assurances, render opinions and explanations, etc. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 10:16 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Another problem to deal with in small children is asthma - many children seem to have this. There are always all sorts of emergencies - sometimes illness - and sometimes even bodily functions. <P>I had one student, a truly adorable sweet little girl, who during a small jump we were doing lost bladder control. The real problem was dealing with her self esteem. I think it is a great way to give a teenage student experience, but not as the one totally responsible for the class.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 10:16 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 76
Location: BC , Canada
Going to play devils advocate here....<P>OK maybe I am half devil...LOL (that was a Joke)<P><BR>"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."<P>A child of this age having no other experience other than perhaps seeing an elder sibling in class or having been exposed to formal dance on TV, theater etc. <BR>Realy does not know what they are asking for.<BR>The classes they will recieve will in no way<BR>resemble what they ahve see,....a good compromise Let them observe a class that would be available at their level- then if they want to participate that would be great.<BR>They would be attending the class for reason other than Mommy or grandma wanting to see them in a frilly costume at the end of the year. Now there is another can of worms..<BR>,, should children at this age be put on stage to perform? <P>RE:<BR>"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><BR>Yes: There are a number of other movement and music types of programs as well that fill the need for socialising the child and physical co-ordination. They also require that the child be able to pay attention and follow simple directions with both teacher directed and self directed movement play.<P>My subject was whether or not these classes had merrit as dance classes...as they are often advertised.<P>I am not suggesting a ban on such programs as they obviously fill a demand within the community... Simply I say..let us be honest about what they are.<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 10:23 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Well, Rabbit - in answer to your question I would not consider them dance classes per se in the serious sense of the word. I do think that a really good and responsible teacher would advertise them for what they are. But I still don't see the harm if they are what they are meant to be - a positive, fun, group experience that introduces some concepts and activities. <P>I think that several of us of have mentioned things that could be harmful - but if those were eliminated - then it could be a good experience, in my opinion. As for letting a child observe the class beforehand - always a good idea.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 10:40 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Adding to the litany of potential problems, besides epilepsy, diabetes, asthma:<P>1. Attention deficit disorder<P>2. Painful shyness (I had one child who did not utter one word the entire year, but she was not disruptive. I referred to her as "my great observer" and would conclude exercises every so often by asking, "Ruth, did we do a good job on that one?" to which she nodded. Years later, she greets me with big hugs and lots of words.<P>3. Extreme self-consciousness. I had one child in a 7-9 year old class who cried because she thought her body was somehow malformed. I asked the class who had a perfect body and not a hand went up except one. "Well, Mary, I'm glad you've got that kind of confidence. It will stand you in good stead later in life. Now class, if you really want to see a body with problems, look at Miss Chrissy. See how my back curves? Yessirreee, you could park a phone book on my rump. But I'm not going to lie awake crying about it. Nope, I'm going to be happy that I've got lots of stamina and a good ear for music. You should all think long and hard about the things that make you special. We can't all be perfect, but we can be special." <P>


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 10:44 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Christina - your posts are a litany of possible positives that a child might derive from this experience, in my opinion. <P>A good teacher is a wonder and a blessing.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 11:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 122
Location: Dortmund, NRW, Germany
<BR>Oh, Miss Chrissy. I think I'm starting to fall in love with you Image Image<P>Is there anyone, who can make a summary of all these topics? I lost my way.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 2:25 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 3129
Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Sorry can't even begin to summarise what we has been discussed.<P>rabbit I agree with you that at that age what a child does in class is nothing like the images they have seen and I too feel it is important for the child to come and watch first and then join in when they are ready. Obviously you can enourage then by offering a friendly hand to walk or run round the room with - that is usually enough to give them the confidence to take their first step into the dance class. But if they won't come there is no point in forcing them - they will either join in when they are ready or they may need to wait until they are older. However if they come and like what they see - what's the problem. Yes they can learn similar skills from other programmes such as gym - but if dance is the preferred option I can't see how there can be a problem with this. That is my opinion.<P>One point to note in the UK I know of no dance school that calls their pre-school dance program Pre-Ballet or Creative Movement. I think it is a very sensible term and describes very accurately what we include in these classes but all classes seem to just be called Ballet 9although ballet bears no resemblance to what we are doing. I just thought it was inetresting that it seems to be a term used frequently in the US and Oz but not in the UK.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 2:51 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Berry - You can print this thread out - if that helps.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 5:11 pm 
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Location: Australia
great thread, great posts - i agree with everyone!<P>and *I* think miss chrissy is darn cute, too! Image<P>joanne, re the term 'pre-ballet' (or creative dance): in all honesty i don't think you would SEE it MUCH in australia - but if having a serious discussion with my peers, those are terms i would use. having just 5 minutes ago finished formatting an ad for the local paper, i am quite happy to acknowledge that my ad just says 'BALLET' - a catch-all word to meet the assumptions of the general public....the actuality is explained to them when they come along that first time, and they see it for themselves....also a little bit on the website.

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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 5:15 pm 
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Location: Australia
oh yes! liked the comment about the newborn's mum having left it too late! Image and i agree with you christina, of course, that mother and child bonding activities are great when appropriate - it was just that i have rather a literal mind, so when i saw that list of advertised activities (in my post) which included 'singing' and 'playing rhythm instruments', along with a mental image of a newborn, my brain just went haywire! Image

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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 6:30 pm 
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Location: Australia
had a random thought about this this morning....<P>it seems to me that a couple of people, including myself, have been saying that there just might be some reasons NOT to start dancing lessons at these early ages...<P>to which basheva has responded 'but if there is no harm, why not?'....to which we have pointed out POSSIBLE harm.......but she asks again 'IF no harm, why not?'......it seems we are talking a bit at cross-purposes, since i'm sure we'd *ALL* agree that, IF we had proof there was NO HARM, then, indeed, WHY NOT!<P>BUT.....apart from real issues of 'harm' (which might be too strong a word) what occurred to me this morning is that (the way i see it, so please let's not argue this bit, as it is just a prsentation of MY point of view!) a child is not really physiologically able to do the basic things of BALLET effectively, before the age of ten (posture muscles, and effective USE of spiralling turnout from the hip socket - as opposed to just 'happy feet' Image ). <P>please read the above words with care, as they were chosen with care. (i am not saying that i haven't seen gorgeous 5 year olds who dance ballet better than 14 year olds - but they are the exception which proves the rule. physiology is physiology - we all vary, but human development by and large takes place at a set predictable pace, and that includes the control of the postural muscles and so on - <B>SO</B> BASIC to ballet.)<P>so, if a child starts at 3, they have 7 years of once or twice a week dance, before they can really embrace ballet study in a mature way, such as the major schools of the world do with their intakes at approximately ten years of age.(vaganova, bolshoi, POB, RBS, etc - i say 'approximately' because for example, the vaganova school first year is for ten year olds, but in recent years they have started accepting a class of nine year olds who do PRE-ballet - gymnastic floor exercises and so on - they do not do ballet as we think of it - 'barre and center', etc.)<P>sorry this is taking so long, but i am trying to be careful to be clearly understood, to avoid misinterpretation and un-necessary argument. you may believe differently to me - that's fine - you might be right! - but i just want my own statement here to be clearly understood....<P>so: that 3 year old, who could have 7 years of once or twice a week classes in dance, before they are really beginning BALLET in an effective manner as vocational training - and vocational IS what i am speaking about, here - has their time been spent in the best possible way, given that the NEXT TEN YEARS of their lives will definitely HAVE TO be intensely focused on ballet........?<P>i would be inclined to think that more broadening experiences might have been more useful, or at least as useful..... <P>and also that, many many young talents may fall by the wayside precisely BECAUSE they started too early.....now that is a bit speculative. but that's one thing i'm thinking....<P>of course, a CAREER isn't the only purpose of dance - far from it - so that opens up a whole other way of looking at it.....and for those many who do dance activities from 3 to 3 & a quarter(!) or from 4 to 5, and never do it again, it has no doubt served a purpose.....different discussion, i suppose....<P>thanks to any of you who have stuck with me through this long post - deliberately somewhat painstaking! Image

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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 6:52 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Having read Grace's post with all due care I would say that children who at a very young age begin to take a class appropriate to the age - are still able to do many other activities.<P>Most of the really young ones I have seen usually take class only once a week - and for the purpose we have pretty much all outlined - just movement to music - group interaction - and the many activities that Christina has spoken about so eloquently.<P>I don't think there is anyone here who is recommending anything like a ballet class at that age - or even before 8-9 yrs. old at the earliest.<P>So for the purpose outlined above, with a good caring teacher, not in a competitive way - but just for enjoyment - I would say in my opinion - there is most probably no harm done. And, perhaps some good accrued. <P>Differing opinions are always expected, respected and enjoyed.


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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2001 2:01 am 
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Location: Australia
rabbit, in case you are following this thread of yours, there is a query about dance teaching courses in canada from ~jennifer~ in a thread begun a few days ago, which i am sure you could be the most help on.....if you wouldn't mind looking a little further down the list of topics? thank you Image

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 Post subject: Re: The Merit of Dance classes for 3-5 yr olds
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2001 6:23 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 130
Location: Pa, USA
The harm that can be done...well I think that there is frankly quite a lot of harm to be done--especially here in the states where no type of degree, certification or general knowledge must be shown to be a dance teacher or a studio owner. There are still many schools out there who are putting eight year olds in pointe shoes to appease parents and "keep" the child's interest--after all these kids have "danced" for five years. There is a strong possibility (if no other "harm") of students torquing their knees at five or six to achieve the amount of turn-out a teacher has acquired over many years of muscle memory and hard work-(something that young, inexperienced teacher or those not aware of muscle groups may not correct)-once that has become a "way" to do it for some students the harm/bad memory is never undone. I realize that no-one here is one of "those" teachers, but they do exist--and usually have cheaper rates to compete with bonafide studios in those years when the parents are still uneducated about serious studios vs the flake studio. <P>(Obviously this opens the whole parental education topic again--and how important it is *S*)<P>Through out the years I have had several students who take classes at the "cheap" studio in town and then at age twelve come to me for pointe--when in fact there are some I will never put on pointe due to the damage that has been done, the force of turn-out, the improper muscles being utilized--after six to eight years of doing it wrong there is simply no way I can correct some of these mistakes. (As you can see this is rather a passionate subject and I'm a bit off topic here *S*)<P>At any rate--there is a strong possibility of harm being done, and sometimes serious damage if a child is started too early in the wrong studio setting. Parental education is the key in improving this situation, of course, but there is only so much one can do within the parameters of their own studio--without appearing to be competing for students when in fact you are just trying to educate. Many people do not take seriously the three-five age group and the fact that this is one of the most crucial times in a child's development and do leave it to a teen to teach this age--which should NEVER happen. (Again--a whole different subject *S*) To say "if no harm then why not?" is fine--IF the parents are educated about the physiology of their child, the expectations of the teacher, the syllabus goals of the studio; BUT if this is just supposedly a "social" thing or they will do Studio X until Little Jane is "serious" and then change to Studio Z...the damage potential is quite large to me.


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