I think it depends most on the specifics of the classes- the best of either class is usually labled "developmentally based" or some such for preschool age children. My dd did a dance class at 4, and I really regret I pushed her to do it- it was not developmentally based, there was a lot of time standing in line and being told over and over to do it like the teacher. We recently tried a developmental class- and it was SO much more fun- the girls were encouraged to act out being flowers coming out of their seeds and other cute things- I wish I'd hunted for a class like that. Instead- at 5 we did a gymnastics class with an excellent instructor, the kids did obstacle coureses, played games, and had a lot of fun in addition to learning basic tumbling stuff.
I feel the gymnastics class helped her overall coordination a lot more than the dance class did- but like I said, I'd opt for the class that will be the most fun.
5 1/2 YO DD has done both -- at a very kid-friendly level with YMCA classes. Either way, I agree with OT Momma that its important to find a class that is age appropriate and taught in an engaging manner for kids.
My personal thought is that gymnastics offers more variety in each class session, thus being a bit more engaging for young kids. It also has a greater "overall fitness" emphasis, which I like. Its a good basis for other sports later on, while I don't think dance is, quite so much.
Having outgrown the Y dance class, DD had to choose one or the other for the fall (couldn't afford both at the next level), and she has chosen gymnastics.
both can be fantastic for children, and they can compliment each other nicely. I have to agree with the pp that you should search for developmentally based programs.
My dd's both dance and love it. (8 yr old going into 3rd yr ballet, 1st yr jazz and my 5 .5 yr old is starting this fall) We have a preschool gymnastic program here but once they get past that there is alot of pressure to go competitive and that can be really hard on there little bodies.
I haven't done either. However, a close friend's experience was that gymnatics was great when they're very young. But she researched it and thought that all the pounding was too hard on their bodies at a certain point. So, she's switching her daughter to dance at 6.
Do your kids have an opinion one way or the other? I'd go mostly by my kids' enthusiasm. Cost would be a factor as well.
OTMama, I wish I had known that when we enrolled my now 5.5 yo in dance. We let her quit after three classes since it was clear it wasn't giving her what she wanted out of it. She learned more about adults using bribery with stickers than anything else.
: So that info is good to know for future ventures!
I've had my girls in both, with a similar situation as you since they're only one "grade level" apart.
With no other information about the specific classes, teachers, philophy of the school, etc, I'd go with gymnastics. Gymnastics is JUST gymnastics classes. With dance lessons, even for preschoolers, there's usually a performance at the end of the year. This involves overpriced, uncomfortable costumes you can't pick out and you're screwed if they order the wrong size for your child. The recital could be late at night, after your child's bedtime, with no way to comfort your children immediately before or after their class' performance. Also, my daughters found that dance classes got boring when they stopped doing "general dance stuff" and focused almost exclusively on "recital practice."
Many of the issues I experienced with ballet class could be completely avoided with a better teacher and better school director- but none of these things are even a possibility with a gymnastics class.
Our dd took gymnastics last year. It was a non-competitive program and geared towards preschoolers. She loved it!
This year she will be taking a gymnastics/dance combo class through the same gym. All programs offered at this gym (children's yoga, drama, dance, gymnastics, etc.) are non-competitive and expectations are age appropriate. That to me is important.
I agree w/ the pps. It depends upon the individual program, the class teacher, and child preference. There are great programs out there in both dance and gymnastics, but, you can also find yourself in highly competitive gymnastics and also dance groups that have involved recitals with makeup, expensive costumes, etc.
My daughter takes hours a week of both, at almost 5. If she could only pick one she says hip hop. LOL.
I would say:
If they don't have a musical outlet otherwise (like choir), that's a plus for dance.
If they have a stocky build, they may have trouble with the skills (lifting body), and that's a plus for dance in terms of enjoyment.
Gymnastics is good all around training.
My now 6-year-old DD has done both off and on since she was 3. She started with ballet and will be continuing with it this fall. Which would they enjoy more? My daughter has always loved the cultural as well as the physical aspects of ballet. Ballet also served as a wonderful introduction to classical music and ballet stories.
Our ballet school created much more of a community than the YMCA gymnastics classes did....the little ones would join dancers of all ages and levels for holiday shows and recitals. DD loved performances and our ballet school always made costumes that were very affordable---I picked DD's up at second hand shops. The muscle control, poise, and posture that she's learned in ballet have been tremendous assets for all of the other sports that she's tried. Goodness! I'm surprised by how pro-ballet my comment has become.
While DD thoroughly enjoyed her gymnastics classes, I think in retrospect that she's gotten a lot more out of her ballet & dance classes.
my dd has been in both since she turned 2. She has liked both (as well as soccer, which she has also taken) but has mostly preferred gymnastics. Rigth now, however, she is liking dance MUCH more (which I think has a lot to do with watching so you think you can dance the last couple months *bag over head*).
One thing for us that made a difference was that the gymnastics classes allowed the parents inside, as did the dance/creative movement classes, but the bvallets classes di not, and that was hard for dd, who had never before been away from me.
I talked to a friend today about a ballet class her DD was in recently. Her 4.5 yo DD was disappointed that there wasn't more formal dance instruction and it was mostly play based. My friend said that on most days, her DD would complain that there weren't enough moves or that they didn't work at the bar at all. I guess my point is that maybe it would also depend on what your DC expect to get out of the class. Before talking to her, we were considering dance as well, but I think we'll put it off for now and put her in martial arts. Most of the martial arts classes around here allow the little ones to do martial arts techniques with pads even though they're aren't on a belt track yet. They just wait before introducing forms, step techniques an sparring techniques. There's still plenty of other stuff to learn, though.
my dd is in both. From what Ihave seen so far I much prefer gymnastics. I loved her dance intructor(so did dd), but I was not fond of the school nor being expected to regurgitate all the same moves for 2 minutes of stage time in a crazy outfit at the end of the year.
Id rather she had fun and silly, or structured ballet.
My DD has done dance for two years (started when she was three) through the town rec department. She LOVES it and this year is going to take tap. The program here is VERY low key and the preschool classes don't take part in the recitial. My DD is looking forward (she watched the dress rehersal last year) to being the recitial this year. My pocket book is not looking forward to the $70 for the costume/tickets (the price of one 10 week session!).
Assuming that you already find each class equally acceptable in terms of price, teachers, atmosphere, travel distance, etc. then I'd get some books & videos out of the library and research it together, ask each place for a sample class, and let your girls choose.
They are definitely old enough to make this decision.