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AmyKL

Stepdaughter wants to start ballet

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AmyKL

I hope this is an appropriate place to post this, but I have a couple questions.

 

I have a 9 year old stepdaughter who wants to start ballet. Her mom has a membership to the YMCA, which holds a beginning dance class consisting of intro to ballet, modern and hip hop. From what I gather, it's an exploratory type class that introduces the concepts of dance. We talked to mom about signing her up for the next one, and she said OK.

 

Then we asked my stepdaughter if she still wanted to take it and she got mad :cool2: She said she only wants to do "real" ballet. But she doesn't have the greatest history of sticking with things, so I'm in favor of this YMCA class, which is I think 8 weeks long. The other beginner ballet classes run on a per semester basis, for 3x the YMCA's cost, and don't give refunds for anything other than extenuating circumstances if you quit going.

 

We thought that she could try it and if she likes the ballet part, she can take a whole semester afterward. Likewise, if she like the modern or hip hop, she can do that. She is still resisting, but she already has quit gymnastics and everything else she gets into after just a month or 2. I hope it doesn't sound crass, but none of us wants to sink the money into it if she's going to quit. But no one said she can't take it more if she likes it either. I can see from her point of view how that would be disappointing, but her dad and I have both explained how we can't afford to pay hundreds of dollars if we're not sure if she'll stick with it, given her history of dropping out of things. Her answer was, "But I won't." Except with gymnastics she said the same thing and then wanted to quit. We made her go to the remaining ones, but at her moms they didn't and it was a huge battle.

 

The other "issue" is that she does not take direction and correction well. She doesn't give attitude, but she just goes straight back to doing things the incorrect way without trying it. I can see where this could be a problem in ballet, but I also wonder if this would be a chance for her to work on that trait. It could go either way. Does anyone have a kid like this? An example of this would be when she played softball, her coach would tell her to change her grip on the bat, or to do something different when she threw. She would respond, "Ok", and then go back to exactly how she was doing it. Later, after the practice, if you ask her why she didn't do it, she says either, "I did!" or "I don't like doing it that way, it's uncomfortable." But she doesn't talk back, she's just kind of hard headed like that. And that's another reason she quits things a lot. She gets feedback, then says she's being picked on, and wants to quit.

 

I feel we should stand our ground on this, and say it's either the short class or she can wait until she's older and she has shown that she can go into a class, take her corrections gracefully and stick with it for at least a semester. Dad and Mom (and mom's SO, who would be sharing the cost) are in agreement. But I feel terrible at how disappointed she is. Because I never got to do things when I was a kid because we were too poor. So what- am I just projecting my own feelings about her not getting to take it, or are we really being unreasonable?

 

*sigh* I kind of feel guilty about us making that decision. In the meantime, she's been trying to wear us down by begging for a different class.

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dance1soccer1

Knock, knock - mom of an over 13 DD. I think that a combo class has very little, if anything, with learning ballet. At nine, the beginning ballet dancer learns very specific tasks and not just that, learns WHY a dancer does every movement with her head, feet, arms and legs. There is a purpose to everything done in ballet class. In contrast, a combo class teaches fun combinations, gives the kids some exercise, and shows them what is "fun" about different types of dance. A kid who comes from a combo class is not going to know much, if anything, more about dance than a kid who has never taken a single dance class. My take on it, as a mom of a kid who came out of her first formal ballet class saying ""I wuv this. I weely, weely WUV this", is that you are SO lucky to have a stepdaughter who is old enough and smart enough to recognize the difference between learning ballet and learning to dance, and mature enough to want the challenge and discipline of really learning the art form. I'm with her - what you are offering is NOT ballet, and she wants to learn ballet. It would be like if she wanted to learn long division, but you offered her a class called "calculator fun". Sure, she'd learn some tricks in calculator use, but it wouldn't get her any closer to learning long division unless she lucked into a teacher who made calculator long division one of the "fun" activities. I say, try the real ballet class. Maybe her not sticking to activities in the past is because she hasn't found THE activity for her, not that she isn't THE child for the activity. Ballet teaches responsibility, self- control, discipline, and the importance of sticking to one activity. Maybe a real ballet class is just the ticket to a successful kid. And even if she decides she doesn't like that either, she'll see that you trusted her enough to give her a chance to see if she liked it or not. So, she quits ballet after three months, big deal. At least her whole life she'll be able to say "when I took ballet . . ." and that's a huge social boost and lots of fun.

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fendrock

Will the ballet school let her try one class before committing to a session?

 

Then she will know what she is signing up for.

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Siegelife

First of all, AmyKL, let me say how lucky your step-daughter is to have a step-mother like you looking out for her interests. I went through multiple step-parents who actually took my passions away from me. With that said, many of times children experiment trying to figure out just what IT is as their passion. I agree with Fendrock about letting her try an actual ballet class. Most schools offer a free trial class. Some schools also have an "open" division where you can buy coupon books instead of paying tuition. It may cost a little more in the long run if she decides to stay for the whole semester. But if she doesn't, it won't cost as much.

 

I have a girlfriend who has tried everything under the sun, even through her teen years, promising that she'd stick with it and never did. It is just her nature. Her other child found choir and has always loved it. They are all so different.

 

Best advice is to support her needs to feel different things out in the cheapest way possible.

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ivymom

Our Ballet school lets you pay by the month- I'm guessing that a lot of schools operate this way, so you wouldn't necessarily have to pay for a whole semester. A yearly registration fee is required, but it's not prohibitive- usually about $30. Also, summer sessions are coming up at a lot of schools, could she try just the summer session at a "real" ballet school so that you might get an idea of if she will commit to it longer ? I'm not sure what the cost difference is between the Y and the "real" ballet school, but I bet the ballet school's training is significantly better. A summer session at ballet school and the intro course at the Y may be about the same length. Why not let her try the summer session with the understanding that she must attend all classes and commit for the entire summer. Then you can reevaluate if she will continue in the fall.

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Guest pink tights

Ivymom has a great idea--summer classes! I think it is difficult to join a class that is "already in progress"--most of the kids have been class since late August or September and by throwing your step-daughter in this late in the year, she will be very behind. This will be most frustrating so the chances are she will not like it and quit. By waiting until summer, she can start fresh, with a whole new group of beginning students. Good luck and your step-daughter is fortunate to have you in her life!

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Treefrog

Amy, there is SO much wrapped up in your post -- and this little girl's life -- that it's pretty hard for us to advise you. I suspect the situation is so complicated that the "which class" question is not the heart of the matter.

 

From a ballet perspective, sure, the real ballet class is the thing to do. But I fully understand the hesitancy of all the adults in the kiddo's life. For one thing, it sounds as though all of you are tired of being jerked around a bit by her and her inconsistency. (And, parenthetically, who knows whence the inconsistency originates? Getting to the heart of that issue, whether through counseling or testing, could be useful.)

 

For starters, I'd let her know loud and clear that begging isn't going to get her anything. I think the most useful tool in a parent's toolbox is the resolve not to be worn down. "No means no" is an incredibly useful phrase; it really helps one get through those indecisive, guilty, maybe-I'm-wrong times. Be kind, but firm (this is a very wonderful mantra that vagansmom taught me).

 

What I would do is follow fendrock's advice and let her visit a "real" ballet class -- and if she is still interested, let her know that joining one can be a goal. Set a specific time frame: "this summer" or "next fall". Then work with her to develop some clear expectations about what has to happen in the interim for her to earn the privilege. For example, she might have a daily chore to do without being reminded. It doesn't have to be anything big -- in fact, it shouldn't be -- but it should be something that is within her power to do consistently. Agree ahead of time on how many misses she gets, and keep track of them. It's okay to point out to her that she is approaching the Magic Number if she starts to fall behind, but do it in a matter-of-fact, helpful way. Allow her to "fail", and don't make a big deal of it if she does. Just be matter-of-fact, and/or sympathetic, as the situation seems to call for. Set a new goal, if need be. HELP her to succeed, but don't EXPECT her to.

 

As for the Y class, I could go either way. She could take it in the interim, while she is "earning" the privilege of a real ballet class, or not. Her choice.

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AsleepATheWheel

Knock, knock, over 13 and exhausted parent here.

 

I don't see what is wrong with the combination class on a trial basis. Remember folks, the kid is 9 and wants to try ballet...this does not necessarily mean she needs the absolute best classes in order to prepare for a professional career. AmyKL also stated that if things go well, they will move her to a ballet school. My own dd started dancing by trying a combination jazz/acro class at a Dinkle. I didn't know any better and neither did she. It was fine, she didnt start ballet till almost a year later, still at the Dinkle (she also was an older student compared to those that start at 3). This delay in quality classes hasnt seemed to hurt her, in fact, she was very happy then, dancing away. She discovered her love of dancing there.

 

The YMCA is a wonderful place to try out many things. If money and commitment are both issues, why not try this class, with the understanding that if she really likes it, goes to all the classes and 'takes her corrections' (big issue in ballet), then she will move on to class at a ballet school.

 

Best of luck to you and your possible dancer. :lol:

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calamitous

Knock, knock - another exhausted parent of an over 13,

 

I agree with Asleep about the Y classes if you want her to try them out tp see if she likes them, go for it. One 8 week session one way or another won't make a great deal of difference. One hard thing about YMCAs is that the quality is not always consistent so they may actually have a very good teacher thta can help her understand the discipline of ballet --or not.

 

I feel for you having to make difficult decisions like this and agree with Treefrog that the ballet classes and issues of inconsitency may be part of other bigger concerns for everyone. Just a personal note on the starting and quitting - I have one comment. I had this track record as a kid or so my parents say. The thing is I always thought I carried them out until a meaningful end. It was just that my end and my parents were not the same. They saw the prescribed # of classes paid for as the important indicator, but that was not my indicator. I have no words of wisdom on this except that maybe giving her some control over the timeframe, and as Treefrog suggested, some responsibility with it might help. Have her decide what would be an indicator of whether this was good or bad before starting, then having her commit to her indicator. If she loves the class at the Y, or if she does a ballet summer session, then as you say she can go on.

 

I know that I thought the money spent/ classes paid for was not always an accurate determination of whether continuing with an activity had merit. (Although, now as the paying adult, I can't imagine what is a better indicator.)

Good luck

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Momof3darlings

Before enrolling at the Y, I would check to see if the local ballet school has a summer program. Many will have 2 week camps up to 6 week classes which have an easy beginning and end to say that "if" we enroll you, you must complete the entire session. Then you as a parent have to stick to your guns. Complete the session. The Y classes might be fine, but a child who does not like to stick to things needs stability when she, in fact, does find the things she likes. So I'd go for the program you think she can stay at for a number of years, IF, she decides to stick with it. Not sure that would be the Y.

 

vj

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popballet

I have a friend whose son had a hard time staying commited/following directions. For example, when throwing a ball, his dad would tell him to bounce it, but he would continue to throw it. His dad would get very frustrated that he wasn't listening. Actually he was unable to process the words correctly. He switched to a school that specialized in working with children who have learning differences. Now he is getting ready to attend high school with all his friends and he is very committed to running Cross Country. For him it was a matter of "learning to learn" and finding the right activity. Just thought I would mention this as a possibility. :lol:

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AmyKL
I have a friend whose son had a hard time staying commited/following directions. For example, when throwing a ball, his dad would tell him to bounce it, but he would continue to throw it. His dad would get very frustrated that he wasn't listening. Actually he was unable to process the words correctly. He switched to a school that specialized in working with children who have learning differences. Now he is getting ready to attend high school with all his friends and he is very committed to running Cross Country. For him it was a matter of "learning to learn" and finding the right activity. Just thought I would mention this as a possibility. :)

Thanks for the perspective (and by the way, I like that flower smiley!). Her brother is actually more like this- he has some minor delays. He has trouble with sensory input and ordering things logically. But in her case, I don't think she has the same problem. She seems more the kind of child who is determined to do things "her" way, or the way she wants to. I think the biggest difference between the two kids is that she can repeat back to you what she was supposed to do, but give a reason she doesn't want to (or didn't) do it that way. Sometimes that's not a problem. Like making her bed. I couldn't care less how she wants to do that, and if someone gives her an easier way but she chooses not to, well, that's her problem and it's not really hurting her. But athletics, or dance, or gymnastics... that carries potential health risks. Like, if she's forcing turnout and she injures her knees, or she's using improper form in gymnastics and falls and hurts herself. I see that as distinctly different. She has a very determined personality, which can be a bonus or a liability, depending on the situation. We're working on her focusing her stubborness into positive things, like uhh.. not quitting stuff. :blushing: With mixed success, perhaps.

 

I have seen some really constructive and wonderful ideas as far as ways she could try dance and not be committed for months on months. There are only a couple studios around here that she could go to. I can call them on Monday to see if they have a dance camp or something for the summer. That would be great for her, but I agree with the poster who said that if she's going to take something, she has to agree to stick with it or no more. None of us care what she wants to do, but no one has extra cash we can just plunk down on a whim either. I don't know if there are summer classes, but I like to think that if she can go through an 8 week class or something, she can probably hang in for a term of ballet. I don't know if anyone does pay per month here, though.

 

My whole issue is not that if she takes the classes and decides it's not for her that she might not continue. Because I think that it's important for her to figure out on her own what she likes to do and what she doesn't. But I also think that aside from the financial aspect, it sends a terrible message that you would start an activity and then quit before you complete it. Like with softball and things like that, she might quit, but her team needs the player and so quitting is also putting everyone else on the hook for her, if that makes sense. Or I worry that she might get the impression that it's not important to see things through to completion. She might only be 9, but there's a lot of character building happening during these years.

 

I was kind of hoping that someone else thought that ballet might teach her some of that, so I'm glad to see other people think so. I hope that we can find something short that she can stick with for the entirety and then we can decide if she wants to continue. After I make some phone calls on Monday (dad swore off on figuring this out now because he "doesn't know anything about it") maybe I can talk to Mom and see what she thinks. I just want to make sure she's in agreement because they have joint custody and so half of the getting there is up to her Mom.

 

I really, really, immensely appreciate the perspectives.

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drives2much
I was kind of hoping that someone else thought that ballet might teach her some of that, so I'm glad to see other people think so. I hope that we can find something short that she can stick with for the entirety and then we can decide if she wants to continue. After I make some phone calls on Monday (dad swore off on figuring this out now because he "doesn't know anything about it") maybe I can talk to Mom and see what she thinks. I just want to make sure she's in agreement because they have joint custody and so half of the getting there is up to her Mom.

 

This issue looks to be more about the adults than the child. Ultimately, the adults will decide if the child is allowed to quit. In this specific case, if all three parents are commited to this child seeing this activity through, there should be no problems. But there is the rub....getting all parental influences on board, willing to stick to their guns when the child starts working them. Where the child takes classes and for how long are secondary details.

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hippiechicken

AmyKL-

Perhaps she doesn't always change the way she is doing things because she doesn't know how to do it differently. If someone told me to hold a bat a different way, unless they showed me new ideas and helped me practice, I wouldn't be able to correct it either.

I would think with an excellent ballet teacher, she would get to see demonstrations of how it should be. I would check out the teaching before enrolling her anywhere.

As a teacher, I feel when I have a child who doesn't fix something, it's because I haven't taught them how to do it comfortably and consistently. Just telling them, won't always fix it!

-Amy

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Fiz
As a teacher, I feel when I have a child who doesn't fix something, it's because I haven't taught them how to do it comfortably and consistently. Just telling them, won't always fix it!

-Amy

Oh Amy, is that ever true! My daughter recently changed dance schools and she's had so many corrections thrown at her that she finds her two and a half hour class a trial by ordeal. She still wants to dance - she started at two and has left twice briefly and cried to go back each time! We were allowed to watch on Friday but I didn't as I knew she would find it even more stressful. However another mum said she's really good and considering she thinks her child is Wonderboy, that's quite something! All I could see was that her hands still need work! :) Fiz. xxx

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