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EJIDance

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Reply with quote  #1 
DD8 has been dancing for a while now. She is not at a competition studio but is part of a performing company and dances 7 hours a week. She also does 3 hours a week of piano. Up to now she went to a rec gymnastics class once a week. A couple of weeks ago she got noticed by one of the competitive coaches and asked to join the competitive program. The minimum hours required are 6 per week and they are strongly pushing for 9 right away since she is already on the older side for gymnastics. When asked, DD said that if she absolutely had to choose, she'd always choose dance over anything else. But she does want to at least try the program. If we do 6 hours a week, it still fits into our schedule (3 hours on the two days she has off from dance). IF she goes up to 9 hours she'd have to give up music which I am strongly against. She is in third grade and so far the amount of homework has been manageable but I hear things are very different even in 4th grade. On the one hand, if she wants to try, now's the time before she is too old and school gets too crazy. On the other hand, that a minimum of 15 hours a week of activities and music has daily homework as well. I am afraid that might be too much especially since DD isn't really interested in going all the way in gymnastics. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
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Taar0309

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Reply with quote  #2 
If she isn't interested in gymnastics, I wouldn't over commit to that activity.
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EJIDance

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Reply with quote  #3 
It's not that she isn't interested. She is excited and flattered to be asked (and frankly so am I) and she enjoys gymnastics. But when the question is put as "If you could only choose one and you CAN'T keep both," she chooses dance. Also long term I'd prefer dance as well. I guess I am looking at gymnastics as shorter term, just to let her push herself more in that area since there is potential and for now it works with our schedule. But DH thinks that 9 hours or even 6 is way too much "just to see how far she can go." And that makes sense.
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PasDeChatMom

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Reply with quote  #4 
At 8 years-old, 16 hours of extra-curricular activities per week is overcommitted in my opinion (7 dance, 6 gymnastics, 3 piano). I wouldn't add the extra gymnastics unless it replaced dance. Since you've put this as an either/or and she said dance, then I'd say take gymnastics off the table completely. 
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #5 
Hi EJIDance. I know it's flattering to be asked, but gymnastics ramps up very quickly. If your family is very short, maybe gymnastics is worth exploring at that level, otherwise, I would just do gym for fun if I was in your shoes.
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Mitzy

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Reply with quote  #6 
It is flattering to be invited, but I wouldn't do it. My daughter was already very committed to dance and another sport in Grade 3, and it's one year I look back at with some regret. She got a bit burned out. If your daughter was pushing for gym over everything else, it might be different, but she chose dance. It's normal for driven kids to want to do more, but as adults, we need to be the voice of moderation.
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #7 
At that age DS was taking 1 hour of guitar, 1 hour of swimming, 4 hours of Kung Fu and 8 hours of dance.  He said he was fine until one day he just broke down and started crying saying he couldn't do it all anymore.  He opted to quit Kung Fu.  It was just too much at that age for him.  Dance did ramp up the following year but that was never work for him.  If gymnastics is just something she does for fun I wouldn't make the commitment to that many hours.
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Ktyyyyyyy

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Reply with quote  #8 
We were in a very similar situation. At age 6, dd was on a gymnastics pre-team. She was doing gymnastics 6 hours a week and dance 2.5 hours a week. Piano was only a 1/2 hour a week. At age 7, she made her studio's ballet academy, which had a 7 hour a week commitment. Even if I would have been okay with the combined 13 hours of dance and gymnastics, the hours conflicted with each other. DD loved both activities, but ultimately chose dance. She continued to take gymnastics once a week in a rec class for the next four years. Her gym was great and let her continue to progress in gymnastics and do things at her level even if they were different skills than the rest of the class was working on. By age 11, even once a week gymnastics no longer fit in her schedule and she quit. She still took tumbling at the dance studio, but missed bars and beam.
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dancingpeanut

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Reply with quote  #9 
Kids often want to jump in and do as much as they can of things they love, but I think it's up to the parents to make sure they aren't spreading themselves too thin. Hours of both dance and gymnastics are likely to increase as she gets older, sooner or later, she will have to choose. If she simply can't decide, I would either continue doing a full dance schedule with some gym thrown in like you are doing now or a full gym schedule with maybe a dance class or two a week for fun, but trying to juggle both sounds like it will eventually lead to conflict. As the mom of a senior dancer who has battled overuse injuries and seen many of her friends do the same, I would very seriously advise against trying to do it all and set limits.

And just curious, why 3 hours a week of piano? Is that lesson time or practice time? I have a son who is a piano major on a merit scholarship at a top music college. He didn't even start playing until he was 11, and then took 1/2 hour a week lesson until his junior year of high school when he increased to an hour a week. Granted, he played for hours on his own, but actual lesson time was minimal.
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EJIDance

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Reply with quote  #10 
Thank you for all the replies. It seems like my gut was right on this one. She is doing a "trial run" in the class in January which I already agreed to, but after that we will go back to our old class or maybe look into an excel program if she wants a bit more than rec.

Dancingpeanut - 3 hours is total time for piano. Since gymnastics and dance don't have homework I calculated the total to be fair. Class time is 1 hour a week and we shoot for at least 30 minutes 4 times a week practice time at home.
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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #11 
I went through the exact same situation when DD3 was that age. All my kids started out doing both dance and gymnastics when they were 2. I felt both would be of great benefit to them and when they are 2-4 years old neither activity asked for many hours. But each DD hit a point where they could not continue both and a choice had to be made.

For my eldest kids it was easier. DD1 chose dance hands down, DD2 had a big talent for gymnastics and was invited to a special developmental squad, she loved gym a lot more than dance as she was the kid who was always in trouble for hanging off the barre and doing handstands instead of waiting in line.

DD3 was much harder, she didn't have a clear pick like the other 2. So when she was 8 she was in the level 3 competition team at the gym, training 9 hours a week and she was also doing a similar number of hours a week in dance as she was doing ballet, jazz, tap, acro, singing, hip hop, the comp team and so on. We decided that for that year, while she was 8 she could do both and then we would review the situation, it gave her a chance to really taste both activities side by side and make the best decision possible. I didn't like the idea of thinking that my 8 year old didn't want to be a dancer, or didn't want to be a gymnast because how does she make a desicion like that until she has really tried it.

Anyway, people thought I was crazy to have my 3rd grader in so many hours a week of serious extra curricular activities. I was told I was pushing her and between activities and school she was working a full time job. But it wasn't like a full time job, because she loved it. I knew she was coping with it all because she was always dressed and ready to bound out the door to her activities without me ever having to tell her. She would come home and spend hours practicing her dances in the playroom and her gymmastics skills on the trampoline. She stayed full of energy, To her this was like play, and she was getting to play her favourite game so many hours a week, not like work.

But the big problem wasn't the hours, it was the clashes. She had made a Committment to the gymnastics team and also to the dance team. Her actual class hours never clashed, I had it worked so it was all on different days but there were other issues. Like gy,mnastics meets, extra dance rehearsals, dance comps, dance exams, dance performances, gymnastics clinics. It got very hard to juggle them both and if there was a clash I felt terrible as I had made a Committment to both.

The next year she had to make a choice. If she was to go to level 4 in the gym her hours would increase to 14 a week and I could no longer make even the practice schedule work. But I was glad she had that year to really test it out. In the end she chose dance because she could still do all her tumbling and flipping in her acro classes at the dance studio.
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EJIDance

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Reply with quote  #12 
Jacaranda, thank you for such a full answer! I guess that's kinda what gave me the initial pause: the hours don't clash and if she doesn't give it a shot now, she will never have the chance. Since this is pre-team, there won't be meets, but rehearsal will definitely clash with training. I think the difference between your DD and mine is that for mine none of it is play, unfortunately. She is a very intense kid and really does tend to think even of activities she loves as her job and treats them with the same level of seriousness. Sometimes it really helps her, but often this approach to life is very draining for her and for me as a parent. 
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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #13 
Well if there are no competitions for gymnastics, and you start the year and find that she is not coping with both, you aren't really letting anyone down if you drop out (unless you have to sign a contract). She will never be this young again and the older she gets the more school will ask of her, the more her activities will ask of her. Why not try while you can.
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momcrew

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Reply with quote  #14 
That seems like a heavy load for an 8 year old, IMO. My youngest was asked to join the gymnastics team while taking a summer rec class but she also made her studio's comp team for that fall. I told her by the end of the summer she had to make a choice. I had hoped she would choose gymnastics as she has a natural ability for it but ultimately she decided to stick with dance. I feel both activities can ramp up very quickly so doing both competitive teams wasn't an option for our family. 
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dancingymnast

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Reply with quote  #15 
Is that a pre-team for JO (Junior Olympic) team? Does the gym have Xcel team? Xcel is a low-key usually low-hours program, specifically designed for those who wants to do competitive gymnastics, but also wants to do other activities. If your DD wants to continue dance, but also wants to try competitive gymnastics, that would be a good solution for her. JO hours go up very fast, and very soon she wouldn't have time for neither dance nor music.
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LilMama

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Reply with quote  #16 
I'd look at different place to see if she can still compete as part time so there'll be less commitment time wise.
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cynmckee

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Reply with quote  #17 
Well if you take a step back right now and look at it in the long term...you are going to eventually have to give up one, right?  If you were totally unclear about what that choice would be then my recommendation would be to try both this year and make a decision. But you have already said that dance will be the choice.  So why make the monumental effort to do this?  I get that it is flattering but why push it so hard that injury is a possibility from just pure exhaustion?  You have already said that she is intense and will run both activities at their fullest.  When you start scheduling time in 15 minute increments (and I have been there more time then I can count) it is really good for no one.  Nothing ends up being fun for anyone involved.
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gymmommy71

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Reply with quote  #18 
My gut opinion is give the gymnastics a try and see how it goes. She may end up progressing very well and loving it. You and she will never know unless she gives it a try and if she doesn't, later on down the line she may wonder "what if" and then it will be too late. I just think 8 is a little too young to rule out any activity that a kid has an interest in and has an opportunity to try. Gym is different once you start doing more hours, so what she's experienced in a rec class is not the same as a team/pre-team class - she just needs to try it to really know. Yes gymnastics escalates quickly, but you'll know if she wants to let it escalate it after probably 3-4 months.

School does become harder once they get to middle school - as does the pressure for socializing and doing after school activities. It was much easier to fit in multiple activities when my kids were in elementary school - so now is the time to try everthing you can to help her find the best fit.
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dancemonkey

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Reply with quote  #19 
Gymnastics is kind of a different body placement than dance. Although tricks seem to be popular at the younger ages in dance they are not so popular when they get older. Really a lot of homework doesn't really kick in till high school. I think it really depends on your child. I might go for it if you don't have other children and it doesn't stress you out. But you said one thing if she doesn't start now she might not have the opportunity again. I completely disagree with you. If she continues not on the preteam and continues to improve she could total be on a team as long as she aquired the necessary skills required for any given level. I agree with cynmckee that's a lot of stress on a little body. But this is also the time to try things by the time she hits middle school you won't have that luxury.
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3dancinggirls

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Reply with quote  #20 
My children started at age 4 with a few extra curricular activities - piano, Chinese language, swimming, soccer and dance. By age 8 each made their own decision as to which they enjoyed the most and wanted to spend more time/money on. I believed they benefited from concentrating on one activity rather than doing a couple of hours of a few activities a week.

Now that my eldest is 12 she will be making decisions to cut down some dance hours to join some sports teams & clubs at school over the next few years.
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EvryDayShufflin

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Reply with quote  #21 
I'm a true believer in allowing a child to explore options and interests at that age if they have expressed an interest. It's all too soon before they have to choose to do only one thing to the fullest. Activities these days take much more time and commitment then they did when we were children, so there is only a small window to explore. My DS did both dance and gymnastics teams successfully until this year. We always knew he would have to choose - but after 4 years the conflicts somehow didn't start to occur until this fall with classes and competitions. Yes he was putting in 12 hours a week at the gym and 6 hours at the studio but it was working and it was his choice. And he is successful at both. My DD committed solely to dance many years ago, however so I have both experiences. Choosing one was heartbreaking for him but he followed his strongest passion, and he still is allowed to train with his gymnastics team when possible to keep up his strength. Gymnastics and dance complement each other greatly, so if works (and you aren't completely exhausted by the schedule), then go for it!
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DanceTumbleCheerMom

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Reply with quote  #22 
We have been in the situation as well. My 13 year old was a state bronze medalist and nations qualifier in Tumbling and Trampoline (at 11 she was a Tumbling level 7) 3 years in a row, she also competed in Hip Hop and Cheer. A total of about 16 hours in the gym each week. Even with the over achiever she is she had to cut down because it was too much and her body started showing the signs of wear and she would get hurt easily. She gave up dance and hit her stride with tumbling. Now she just cheers and tumbles recreationally (all star and school cheer) and constantly battles issues with ankles and wrists due to over doing it. Personally I would say one or the other.
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disneymom2two

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Reply with quote  #23 
Personally, I wouldn't let my daughter be on both teams; I feel that would be too much for her.  She used to do gymnastics and loved it; the owner was making noises about her going for team. She was already on dance team at that point so I told Jess she needed to choose, that she wasn't doing two teams.  She chose dance.  She also plays violin with her school orchestra and sings with the school chorus.  They only have 2 concerts a year and practices are during school so they don't cause much extra commitment.  As for homework, ours started getting heavy in third grade, same year the state test starts.  Middle school and high school homework loads are very heavy in our district's schools.
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Momof3

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Reply with quote  #24 
I agree that it's flattering - DD12 was asked to join the pre-team at the gym when she was 5 or 6, and was asked last summer to join the acrobatics team at a gym where she was doing a summer camp. But it's just too much. Even if they're having fun, they still need down time. She dropped basketball around age 8 for the same reason - not just conflicts, but also too much running back and forth between practices/classes. Yes, every kid is different, and every family dynamic is different, but it's easy to get sucked into doing too much.
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #25 
We have a rule at our house of one competitive/select sport per season. Gymnastics was year round, and then that was replaced with dance which is year round, so those were her choices. Dd is athetic - honestly more of an athlete than an artist. She has been recruited for select/ competitive gymnastics, dance, trampoline, tumbling, rock climbing, swimming, diving, cheerleading, and soccer. Maybe it's cynical, but thinking about it, it's a little weird that all these coaches "recruited" my dd from her play activities. Yes she is athletic, but with eyes wide open, coaches and studio owners are looking for students to pay for their services. It seems that parents these days need to be a little selective themselves.
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