HELP!! My 4 y.o. is THAT KID at Dance Class - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 02:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Please help . . .

My 4. y.o. b/g twins are taking a combination ballet/tap dance class. I feel strongly that if we sign up for a class, then we finish the class. We don't have to take it again, but we need to attend the class, participate in the class, and cooperate in the class.

My twins are high-energy, exuberant, and silly. Together, they become partners in crime, giggling and escalating into ever more silliness. It seems so many of hte little girsl in the class are sedate, quiet, cooperative.

They run in their tap shoes during class, despite being told numerous times to stop because its dangerous. My little boy will refuse to sit or stand by the bar and instead, run across the room, enthralled with the tapping sound. Or, when the teacher hands his hand to practice his part in the recital, he'll go dead weight, laughing and refuse to try. My little boy will shove other children out of hte way so he can stand by his sister. I started having him stand away from her because they played off each other less. But he keeps trying over and over to stand by his sister.

I feel like the teachers spend an unfair amount of time dealing with his misbehavior and lack of cooperation. I think (and would expect it) to frustrate them. It certainly frustrates nad mortifies me.

This is what I've tried: (1) when he runs away in tap class and starts tapping and running and disrupting the class, he gets warned that his tap shoes will be taken off, if he continues, he loses his tap shoes. That way, at least he's less disruptive.

(2) We have a reward system. They can go to McDs once a week after tap dance class if, and only, if they (1) participate and (2) cooperate. What that means is discussed endlessly. So if the teacher says run in crazy circles, you run if crazy circles. If the teacher says sit beside the barre, you sit beside the barre. And it means you try. You don't have to do it well. Just try.

I felt like part in teh beginning was that he had developmental delays from prematurity and hypotonia that made some of the things they asked him to do too hard. For instance, tehy asked him to stand up and dance backwards four times in front of the group. He cannot jump. He just started running in circles and his behavior disintegrated. I talked to the teachers and explained, and they are pretty sensitive and do well with it, I feel. For instance, the teacher will help him when kids are supposed to hop or something.

(3) We also have rewards where you get to pick a treat or reward as long as you don't get 3 strikes. 3 strikes and you are out. Last week, they both got 3 strikes and they didn't get anything from teh vending machine (which they love). (I had to carry them without shoes to the car, screaming and crying loud enough to take down the building. But they didn't get the reward).

This week, his sister earned 2 rewards for having zero strikes. My son was HORRIBLE and didn't get anything.

What do you suggest? I'm at wits end. And yes. I'm utterly mortified.
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#2 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 03:12 AM
 
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I have no advice really. There are two kids like that in DD1's dance class. One very obviously does not want to be there and does the dead weight thing constantly. She's not comfortable being there and for the first 15ish minutes the teachers will try and get her involved. After that they work around her. If she's an immediate danger (so to speak) such as sitting in the middle of the floor where the other kids are dancing they will help her move out of the way but they don't coddle her into. They simply tell her what's up, get her moved, and go back to what they were doing.

The other kiddo is just energetic as can be. They deal with her in the same manner though they do expect more out of her (I'm not sure why honestly...) perhaps because she is participating.

I'm not sure if the teacher(s) react to your kiddos antics but perhaps a detached involvement would work? Sorry I'm not offering up anything better.

Oh, is it possible to get your kids in diff. classes (as in seperately)? I know for our group the smaller kids are grouped by gender. For instance DD1's class is the 3-5 year olds and the group right above her (the showteam) is the 5-8 year old girls. Same with boys. It's not until they get to the 12ish year old bracket that they have the kids in the same class. We recently had an entire group practice where everyone from each bracket was there and the smaller kids had a much harder time concentrating once the other gender got mixed in (despite still being in their specific groups).

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#3 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 03:43 AM
 
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i know you dont want to hear it, but i think life is telling you to change your philosophy.

perhaps your kids are not ready for that kind of structure and class. i remember when my dd was in ballet she hated all the waiting and was so bored that she would make faces in the mirror. i took her out.

i really think you might be expecting too much out of your 4 year olds. can you find something else which might be more fun. like soccer? or something else.

i mean look at the reward system you are offering. they are GREAT for a kid. but even that is failing. i think that says a lot doesnt it?!!

OOOH i had an idea. can you take them to the park or some heavy physical activity so they can get the energy out of the system and thus help them focus?

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#4 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 04:52 AM
 
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we have a thread in the find your tribe section

Tutu club***mamas' of tinny ballerinas*** tutu club

http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1096685


maybe if you would post your question and problem there
more moms could relate to it? there are mamas and also
mamas who are ballet teachers so they might help you to
find a solution.

I would agree with previous poster if it was my own children
I would most likely wait a little, a semester or two..

I myself have very high energy dd and I took her to couple of
trial ballet classes before actually deciding that she is ready to
commit.

I feared that she will be dissruptive, running around,
not paying any attantion etc..

she went to the classes and she proved she is ready,
I asked her if she wanted to keep taking classes as
she knew it was only trial and so we did
it was still done in the environement that we could cancell
at any time and I was not kidding and ready to do so
if I felt at any point that it is owerwhelming to her.
or she is struggling with being part of the group.

I feel that not the acutal age of a child but their rediness
is what should be decissive factor of when they should do what
so I follow that idea.

So far it worked. I took her to few classes and it was very
clear to me which ones were not for her and which were right ones..

there is so many things to consider.. teacher, other kids..
room, other parents.. everything ..

they can't turn off and detached from anything and you never
know untill you put them in the situation if they will benefit
from it or not.

In my case I dont want to put my dd in a situation where
she would have to be corrected for something she is not ready for..
and she would feel inferior and stuff like that as this might
breed some problems.

different kids in the class have different experiences and so
it is important from my point of view to make a fit.

That is why I noticed that in our case I don't want to put my dd
in any classes that are for 3 to 6 age group for instance
although she is 4 and perfectly fit in age wise.. but
there is so many kids at 6 that their skills are just so much more
advanced that in such an ambitous kid like my dd would
quickly make her feel that she is not good at something.

So I have this kind of problems :-) and those are my solutions.

As to other parents.. there were few class session that
had THAT KID and it was amazingly frustrating for everybody..
teacher and other kids and that brings also not the best in some
kids and I would not like to expose my child if she was THAT KID
to this kind of aversion just because she would not be fitting in..

at this young age there is huge difference from what I saw
that one or two semesters can do.
I also had tendency to take her to observe class and so she
could learn behavior in the class from the side line before
being subjected to the activities. that gave us chance
to dry run and discuss things prior to even running into problems
because believe me.. if I would not do all of this and just signed
her up and left her in the class as some of the classes do encourage
here.. she would be THAT KID all the time.

hugs

B
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#5 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 05:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple Cat View Post
My 4. y.o. b/g twins are taking a combination ballet/tap dance class. I feel strongly that if we sign up for a class, then we finish the class. We don't have to take it again, but we need to attend the class, participate in the class, and cooperate in the class.
I suggest you take them, or at least your son, out of class. When you say "we" in the above quote you mean "you." Your children shouldn't have to fulfill your needs or your idea of commitments-- it should be the other way around. Children do their best 100% of the time. Your son is 4. I'm not sure why you want this to continue? Isn't a class supposed to be for fun?

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#6 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 06:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple Cat View Post

My twins are high-energy, exuberant, and silly. Together, they become partners in crime, giggling and escalating into ever more silliness. It seems so many of hte little girsl in the class are sedate, quiet, cooperative.
Actually this doesn't surprise me because I think those with these types of kids know they will do fine in these kinds of classes. I wouldn't have dreamed of putting my DS in a class like that at age 4, even though he would have loved the sound the tap shoes made, because he was not at all ready for it. So there are plenty of other exuberant and silly 4 yr olds out there, they are just not doing that class!

It is not really a matter of THAT kid, but THAT parent who keeps making their kid attend.

I know you feel strongly that if you start a class, you finish it, but you might want to try to figure out why you feel so strongly about it and if it's really the right thing to do in this case.
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#7 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 08:14 AM
 
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It sounds as though ballet-only might be a better bet, if you want to keep them both in dance. I know of dance schools around here that wouldn't even allow a 4-year-old to take tap.
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#8 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 08:15 AM
 
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This sounds like learned helplessness to me.

He's being the class clown because its better to be the cool kid running around in your tap shoes, than be the kid who can't jump, dance backwards or dance gracefully.

Don't be mortified - this is totally normal behaviour. I agree with everyone else - this isn't about him - he's not ready for dance classes. He wont learn anything more by 'sticking with it' except perhaps reinforce his self-disbelief and his concept of himself as the 'naughty boy' in class. I'd let him drop out and perhaps jump back in next year. Maybe focus on something that will build on his strengths.

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#9 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 09:36 AM
 
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I agree with others that it might be time to ditch the commitment philosophy. 4 is too young to understand that sort of commitment. Dd is 6 and I still would allow her to quit something she did not like. In fact, she nearly decided to quit ballet/tap because the "that kid" in her class was being so disruptive that dd was not enjoying the class. Unless she joined something in which her quiting would impact the whole group like a play or synchronized team, I will always allow her to "quit" any activity. And even in those cases, I would still let her walk away if the issues she had were pressing enough....like if dd were "that kid" and was making the rest of the participants miserable. Childhood is partly about trying on different things. If there is too much pressure to keep an activity that is not working for a kid, then it kind of defeats the point IMO.

It sounds like your kids are wired for a different sort of activity right now. Dance will be there when and if they are ready in the future.
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#10 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 12:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Greenmama2AJ View Post
This sounds like learned helplessness to me.

He's being the class clown because its better to be the cool kid running around in your tap shoes, than be the kid who can't jump, dance backwards or dance gracefully.

Don't be mortified - this is totally normal behaviour. I agree with everyone else - this isn't about him - he's not ready for dance classes. He wont learn anything more by 'sticking with it' except perhaps reinforce his self-disbelief and his concept of himself as the 'naughty boy' in class. I'd let him drop out and perhaps jump back in next year. Maybe focus on something that will build on his strengths.
This! I think Greenmama2AJ said it perfectly. Don't be embarrassed! But don't be afraid to pull him out and either try something else or wait a year or two for him to be developmentally ready - that way he can really ENJOY dancing and not just distract himself (and everyone else) with clowning around.

Plus, wherever possible (and I know sometimes it just isn't) I do feel it's better for siblings that are really close in age to be in separate classes. Less opportunity for competition, less room for egging each other on, less distraction for one child if the other is having a rough time or is in a wacky mood. Also it gives them each a chance to make their own sets of friends without having to deal with one child being more popular than the other, or the two siblings being an inseparable duo.

Just my $0.02 as a ballet teacher for 4-5 year olds, YMMV.

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#11 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 01:01 PM
 
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I too believe strongly in commitment and once you decide to do something, you finish it.

Personally, I'd take a slightly different approach.

The main decision I'd make is: Do you think your son is capable of following the rules? You need to answer this very honestly. If the answer is no, then you should pull him out because it's not fair to him or the rest of the kids in the class.

If you think that he is capable of following the instructions, then I would start at the bottom and work your way up. Instead of giving him his tap shoes and then punishing him by taking them away, have him start the class without his shoes. Work something out with the teacher that if he's doing well at the 5 (10, 15, 20...) minute mark then they'll send him out into the hall for you to put on his shoes. And if he's not, they'll come get you and you'll go in and sit with him and he can watch the class for some length of time before participating again.

I wouldn't try to "force" him to participate by using bribes or punishments. I would simply make it optional. Let him know that he can always sit on the side. Tell him of the natural consequences of that though. If he doesn't participate and learn his part, then he won't be able to do the recital at the end of the year. But let it be his choice as to what he does. He might spend the rest of the classes sitting on the side.
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#12 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 02:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Greenmama2AJ View Post
This sounds like learned helplessness to me.

He's being the class clown because its better to be the cool kid running around in your tap shoes, than be the kid who can't jump, dance backwards or dance gracefully.

Don't be mortified - this is totally normal behaviour. I agree with everyone else - this isn't about him - he's not ready for dance classes. He wont learn anything more by 'sticking with it' except perhaps reinforce his self-disbelief and his concept of himself as the 'naughty boy' in class. I'd let him drop out and perhaps jump back in next year. Maybe focus on something that will build on his strengths.

I agree. Has he ever had PT or OT for his hypotonia? It sounds to me like he needs a class that has more running, and fewer demands for trying to move your body in a certain way. (Our ds has sensory issues and some dyspraxia, and he could NOT have done this kind of class at 4. He would have just stood like a lump in the corner, but he couldn't do it because he could not link the instructions (even when watching) with how to move his body.)

Have you tried tumbling or gymnastics? That's often better for kids like this than dance, at least when they're young.

You've given it a good try. When he's 7 or 8, I think it's appropriate to say "you've started this, I'd like you to finish the term." But this year? He's 4. He didn't know what he's gotten himself into. His behavior is showing you that he can't handle the demands of the class. It's not a tragedy, just a lesson learned. Dh and ds gave up a soccer class once for that very reason.

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#13 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 03:09 PM
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My DD is almost 4 and she's in a playbased preschool, which is working out great. But she wouldn't do well in a dance class, especially with sedate, quiet, cooperative kids. She's very high energy, also exuberant and would be silly and loud if someone was being silly with her. I'd pull them out.
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#14 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all the helpful suggestions and insights. My son has had OT and PT since 5 1/2 mths old (and continues to receive) OT and PT.

He doesn't act like this in any other setting, except dance class. And I think those suggesting that he's acting out in response to the disparity between what he can do and others can do might be right. The dance class has helped a great deal in that he started off not able to cross midline (despite endless therapy) and now does so in class without great difficulty.

The knotty part is that we received a scholarship and full attendance is expected. I could explain and ask the office if he could pull out based on just not ready for that type of class. He did just creative movement last session and did well and enjoyed it.

I have him in swimming where he is a super-star.

Thank you for the insights.
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#15 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 03:59 PM
 
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I'd take at least your son out. There are 2 girls who've quit my daughter's dance class since the beginning of the year, and I was really glad. They just weren't ready, and that's perfectly fine. It's just so disruptive - especially in tap shoes - when one child is running around all the time while everyone else is trying to pay attention. In fact, our "dancer's handbook" says that in the younger classes where a parent is present, you are to take them out if they're disruptive and try to re-integrate them in the class when they're calmer. It works wonderfully for most children.

We tried our son in dance 2 years ago, and that's how he was. He simply didn't want to do it. He wanted to this year, and it's going really well for him. DD, OTOH, is the same age DS was when he first tried, and she absolutely LOVES it and does really well with listening and doing the steps. Some children just do better with structure early.

As for the commitment issue, we feel the same way that a commitment should be kept. Dance at this age is a bit different, however. My son plays soccer, and he knows that if he signs up, he must go to every practice and every game. That's the family rule - no dropping out. For something that's a year long, though, I would come up with a different time frame. For me, for dance it was one semester. That's the last week of September through the 2nd week of December, but that's more for desire. Me recognizing that one of my children cannot do something and is disrupting everyone else is a different issue. (As for it just being dance class, I think that's normal, too. The studios are so big and open; they're a great place to play!)

Rewards like that have never worked for DS. He may go for a treat offered *right now*, but he's never responded to "if you do this now, in a couple of hours, you can..." He's still very much in the immediate gratification mode, and I think that's fine.

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#16 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 10:55 PM
 
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I would say your son is too young for this class. My son is almost the same way and I KNOW he would be too immature for such a structured class. I would take him out- no shame in that , IMO.
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#17 of 25 Old 11-06-2009, 11:56 PM
 
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There is a forest somewhere near your house. It is calling your kids' names. It's whispering to you to get your kids out there and rampage around making noise.

If you can't do it, find a great teenager and hire him/her for a couple of hours a week. Rampage in the forest and then have a treat because everyone was active and having fun.

That's like two treats in one.

(And don't worry... an important lesson was learned at dance class... just not by the intended students. Moms can learn,too!)
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#18 of 25 Old 11-07-2009, 12:19 AM
 
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I understand and agree with your "if we start it, we finish it" theory. And the fact that they are there on scholarship would strengthen that for me too. But I think asking if he could switch to a muscles in motion class (or whatever worked well for him last time) is acceptable. Is there another class at the same time as the one you would keep your dd in? I think it is fine to let them have their own class - preferable even. Overlapping times would make it especially nice for you.

How much longer does the class last?
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#19 of 25 Old 11-07-2009, 12:35 AM
 
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If there's a scholarship involved I'm actually more inclined to vote for bowing out and allowing someone else to use the scholarship.

And ITA about the 'we' vs 'you' bit from above.

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#20 of 25 Old 11-07-2009, 11:38 AM
 
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I would think that the attendance expectation with the scholarship is more a expectation that you show your appreciation for the scholarship by coming regularly to class, rather than blowing it off because it was free (or cheap) and only coming when you "feel like it". That's different from withdrawing because your child just isn't ready for it.
At 3 we signed my dd up for a "magical movement" class (pre-pre-ballet). The parents were outside the classroom and watched through a huge window that made up most of one wall. My dd generally did well, but only until any other child started running to the door to go see mom. Then she would do the same thing, and would proceed to try to run back and forth between me and the class for the rest of the class time. It was incredibly disruptive when this cycle would begin, as several of the kids would start doing this. After several weeks of this getting progressively worse the teacher instituted a policy that if the child left the class to go see mom they could not return. That did help considerably but we still had struggles.
Fortunately the school this was at had 9 week terms. We finished out the term but haven't been back. If we had signed up for the whole year, I would have pulled her. At such a young age it should be fun.
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#21 of 25 Old 11-07-2009, 11:55 AM
 
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I also have one of "those kids". He's 4, he has ADHD, and I am very specific about what I enroll him in. At that age, I think he is doing the best he can all the time, even when it doesn't look like he's trying. The situation just it what it is.

However, I don't think it is fair to him to put him in situations in which he fails, over and over. It really reaffirms to him that he can't do what the other kids can do. In the future, he will be able to participate in more things--especially if they are one he's very interested in.

Also, I don't think it is fair to the other kids to have him (speaking of my son, here) requiring so much class management energy directed at him. His exuberance also drags otherwise well-behaved and participating kids off task and overall the class suffers.

Also, he's just 4. He doesn't understand about signing up and finishing a class and obligations like that. My 6.5 yo is just on the verge of understanding about that, but doesn't really get it yet.

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#22 of 25 Old 11-07-2009, 05:14 PM
 
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Hmmm...I think I agree with the othes who have said take him out of the class. But first, here's what I would do if I were in your shoes....I would set up practice sessions at home where you have him "practice" appropriate behavior for the class. Pretend like you're the teacher and show him the "right" way to behave. Praise him when he does a good job!

I think he needs to know that his behavior in class is not okay and we will no longer be able to attend if that behavior continues. I would give him one more chance. Of course, you can't expect him to be perfect, but things need to improve drastically.

I agree that he may just not be ready for class developmentally. I also agree with your philosophy about finishing what you start.... to a point. But when kid's behavior is disruptive and making things difficult for the teacher and other kids, it's time to pull the plug, IMO.

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#23 of 25 Old 11-07-2009, 05:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post
i know you dont want to hear it, but i think life is telling you to change your philosophy.

perhaps your kids are not ready for that kind of structure and class. i remember when my dd was in ballet she hated all the waiting and was so bored that she would make faces in the mirror. i took her out.
This is what I was going to say. My DD is now 8 and loves gymnastics and is one of the quiet ones and has been for two years, but when she was 4 we started gymnastics and she was totally the opposite, too hyper and wouldn't sit still and hated to wait her turn. I decided it was just too early for her. They calm down as they get older.

Proud *single* mom to 3 amazing kiddos
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#24 of 25 Old 11-07-2009, 06:02 PM
 
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He did just creative movement last session and did well and enjoyed it.

Can he do another session of Creative Movement? Never hurts to ask if they would let him in.
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#25 of 25 Old 11-07-2009, 07:18 PM
 
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i know you dont want to hear it, but i think life is telling you to change your philosophy.

perhaps your kids are not ready for that kind of structure and class. i remember when my dd was in ballet she hated all the waiting and was so bored that she would make faces in the mirror. i took her out.

i really think you might be expecting too much out of your 4 year olds. can you find something else which might be more fun. like soccer? or something else.
I agree!

I remember I signed my then 2.5 yo up for a gym class. I spent the whole class tailing him trying to keep him from whacking other kids. I didn't enjoy it, felt embarrassed by his behavior, etc. I decided to quit going and I cannot tell you the relief I felt when the next Friday came around and I didn't have to go through that again! I get that you don't want your kids to think that they can quit things right and left. But really, it sounds like you've given this a good "college try" and it's not working out. You've gone several times, right? It's not like they went once and then you pulled them out.

Ballet is not for everyone. My oldest (who is now 11) did ballet for a few years. Then she wanted to sign up for swim team this fall. I pointed out it was the same time as ballet so she'd have to choose. She said "Ballet is boring." and chose swim team, which she loves.
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