Forum: Ballet / Ballet - Beginners

How to encourage/support 6 year old?
By holzfallen
On Tue Oct 20, 2015 02:20 PM
Edited by holzfallen (275535) on 2015-10-20 14:21:51

My daughter has tried and quit both soccer (2x per week) and tae kwon do (3x per week). With each, I asked her to stick with it for 6 months and she did. Before she started ballet I took her with me to three different studios and had her take a sample class with each, and we both agreed on the school she now attends. She's been going for several months (1x per week) and her interest is starting to flag. I'm trying to strike a balance between letting her explore many things to see what interests her, and not letting her give up on things before she's gotten over the 'beginner hump' and can start to really enjoy it.

I'd appreciate any advice, tips, or even just links to exciting/fun videos, storybooks, etc. I give her a 'dose' of ballet-centric youtube/picture books every couple of weeks which seems to help, and we're going to see her first live performance once Nutcracker season starts.

Thanks in advance!

8 Replies to How to encourage/support 6 year old?

re: How to encourage/support 6 year old?
By Kathymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:24 AM
Since I work as a pedagogue I thought I could answer....

First of all: calm down. She´s six. That is still very very young. Children of this age mostly want to play and that is completely fine. There is absolutely no need to push them to anything.

That said it is still good to give a child different options what she could do. So it isn´t wrong to introduce her to soccer, tae kwon do or ballet. Only by trying out your child can find out what she likes and what not. So actually I think it´s good that you do that for her.
However, for a child of that age you should always keep looots of free time for just playing around. Because it is not "just playing". Children learn most important things for their future life from "just playing".
Which means I think that one (perhaps two) activity per week is absolutely enough, no matter if it´s ballet or anything else.

It´s still also good though to try to make her stick to something. But you also must accept if she doesn´t want to. As soon as she finds something that she really loves, she will stick to it. But since she´s still a young one this might take several years of searching. (I found my main hobby in my early twenties and my profession in my late twenties!!) And that is okay.
There is no certain trick how to keep the interest of a child on a certain subject. You are already doing everything that MIGHT work. If a child isn´t interested you can do what you want. It´s not really going to work.
Since she´s young you can force her of course. But I doubt (and hope) that you do not really want to do that. I would also NEVER NEVER EVER recommend that.

Long story, short reply:
Just keep on doing what you already did. And if it´s really not working, well then it´s not working, but it´s no drama.
re: How to encourage/support 6 year old?
By holzfallen
On Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:31 AM
Thanks for sharing your perspective! I appreciate the advice. What are some of your students' favorite things to do or see?
re: How to encourage/support 6 year old?
By Kathymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:20 AM
I am right now working with children aged 1-5 (kindergarten), so it´s barely comparable to your daughter. Their main interest is going to playground or replaying daily life scenes.

However, in my studies I worked with children of every age. As soon as the kids grow a little older it´s very difficult to say what ALL of them like, because with leaving kindergarten and starting primary school they begin to develop more individual traits. One might be a fan of books, the next likes to sing, a third loves horse riding and so on. (same goes to toys, what kind of toys they like also starts to become more individual)

That is why you already go right by offering your daughter to try out many different things.
My parents for example send me to many different crafting workshops. I could choose myself which workshop I wanted to do.

So basically continue what you´re already doing. I just wouldn´t go over 1-2 times per week, allow her lots of free playing time. That time she´ll use for finding out things for herself.
Show her different things, try to keep up her interest, but if it´s not working out don´t be sad or annoyed either.

What might help to keep her interest:
find out what her friends are doing. Doing an activity together with a friend is always more fun!
And since there is no general activity that all children of that age like, ask herself what she would like to try! She might be a very young one, but she is already old enough to do some decisions herself.

I see many parents who want just the best for their child and that is wonderful, but sometimes those parents forget that their young one is still a young one. A really young one. They start to worry when they can´t find out what their child wants to do, if it´s kinda jumpy and indecisive. But that is quite normal. Most children of that age are like that, it´s because they are in a process of finding themselves. And that process takes time, lots of time.

The job of the parents is to give them the opportunity to find themselves. You do that already by giving your daughter the chance to try out. It´s also right that you try to make her stick for at least some time, because children also need to learn that they can´t start a billion things without ever "finishing" something (finishing is not the best word here, since you never really finish an activity like ballet or soccer). And yes, at the same time parents must accept if the child doesn´t want to continue (part of the process, you remember?), so they must find a balance between allowing to try out lots and to stick to something. Your six month rule is a good way to balance this problem.

By the way, many parents ask me what is most important in raising their kids.
I always answer the same: Show them that you love them.
You can be poor, you can be rich, you can be a stay-at-home-parent or a parent with a busy career, everything is fine as long as your child knows that it´s dearly loved.
re: How to encourage/support 6 year old?
By holzfallen
On Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:03 AM
Sorry, I think I perhaps didn't phrase my question very clearly. I was wondering about ballet-specific movies, books, games, etc. that might be fun and exciting for a young child. We're in good shape with life as a whole; happy kid, happy life. Just looking for more ways to connect her experience in class to the larger dance world and make it inspiring and enjoyable. Obviously there's no single thing that every kid likes but don't worry, I'm not looking for a guarantee, just suggestions/ideas. Thank you, Kathy, and anybody else who'd like to chime in!
re: How to encourage/support 6 year old?
By Kathymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Oct 26, 2015 01:57 PM
Since she´s six she might like Angelina Ballerina. She exists in form of books and movies.

And when it comes to full ballet performances:
Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty and La Fille Mal Gardee are especially nice for children. Nutcracker is cute too.
Some companies have performances especially for children (they´re for example short versions of full length ballets and/ or danced by children).

Your daughter might also have fun with dressing up like a real ballerina. Perhaps you can get her a cheap tutu that you decorate with lots of glitter just for dressing up and playing.
In case she still looses interest in ballet she can still use the tutu for playing princess or other role-games.
re: How to encourage/support 6 year old?
By holzfallen
On Mon Oct 26, 2015 06:32 PM
Great tips and wonderful idea about the tutu, many thanks! I'll look for those.
re: How to encourage/support 6 year old?
By Sumayah
On Mon Oct 26, 2015 07:49 PM
Barbie and the Nutcracker, Barbie Swan Lake, Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses are popular movies that are based off actual dancers. Most 6 yr olds love them! I second Angelina Ballerina. There's also episodes of Peppa Pig that feature her in ballet.

That age is hard. They're old enough to start learning real steps in either a pre-ballet or level 1 class, but they're still little and want to play. Because ballet tends to be repetitive and a little slower paced, she may feel bored because it's the same thing every week. What your daughter won't understand until she's older is that ballet builds on itself and the pointe/flex sitting on the floor turns into marches with pointed toes turn into skips with pointed toes turn into temps levé arabesque turn into cabriole arabesque. The "boring" aspects become fun, but it just takes time which most 6 yr olds don't have a lot of patience for. Having her stick it out is good, that sets positive precedents to her to always follow through, even if she doesn't like something. And you never know what the future holds. I took ballet/tap when I was 3 yr old and then not again until I was 10 yr old. And I have never stopped since.
re: How to encourage/support 6 year old?
By holzfallen
On Mon Oct 26, 2015 09:51 PM
Thank you so much, Sumayah! I appreciate you sharing your early experiences. You make a good point about about how it might be hard for her to relate what she's doing now to what will come later. I think one of the problems with soccer was that she'd never seen a soccer match, so she didn't really see how the drills would add up to something. I'll look up the ones you've suggested and bring them out for a little 'booster shot' of inspiration.

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