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Lunafly

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Reply with quote  #1 
My daughter is 5 years old and this is her first year taking dance. She really enjoys it and has expressed that she would like to take more classes. Based on her interest and progress the studio has recommended ballet, tap, jazz and acro for next year. They also said based on her progress that we could start thinking about the competition team. I don't want to do too much too fast, but don't want to hold her back either. I know every child's path will be different, but I'm curious to see what other's experience has been in those first few "mini" years from 4-7.
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Mom2Girls

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Reply with quote  #2 
My girls started dancing at 4 and 6 (did gymnastics from age 3 on and 2 on, respectively.) That first year both girls took one class. The next year they did one combo class each. It was the year after that that older dd joined the competition team and started taking more than one class at a time. I think she took tap and jazz combo and a ballet class that year, plus maybe 1-2 hours rehearsal--she was almost 8 by then. When younger dd was 6 going on 7 she joined the team and did the tap/jazz combo and a ballet class. Now dd9 does 5.5 and dd11 does about 13 hours a week not including rehearsals which can add anywhere from 1-10 hours a weekend. I will say that it can add up quickly and it only ever seems to increase, so I'm glad we didn't jump into a huge amount of hours when they were very young. They also had lots of time to try different things in addition to dancing (soccer, tennis, track, swimming and so on). Both ended up very sure ballet is what they want to spend their time on.

There is a chance that if your dd makes too big a jump, she could lose interest. I think there's a lot to be said for a slow build up of commitment.

Like you said, though, every kid/family will have their own way with this.
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cndb

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunafly
My daughter is 5 years old and this is her first year taking dance. She really enjoys it and has expressed that she would like to take more classes. Based on her interest and progress the studio has recommended ballet, tap, jazz and acro for next year. They also said based on her progress that we could start thinking about the competition team. I don't want to do too much too fast, but don't want to hold her back either. I know every child's path will be different, but I'm curious to see what other's experience has been in those first few "mini" years from 4-7.


I personally would not jump that fast with a 5 year old.

My preference, unless the CHILD (not teacher or parent) is unusually or exceptionally driven, is around one hour per grade in the early years: 1-1.5 hours for first grade; up to around 2.5 for second, around 3-3.5 for third grade, etc. This gradual buildup helps keep it fun, prevents burn out, and helps keep the parent to get too deep emotionally and financially that they can't step back if necessary. Rehearsals might push those time guidelines up a bit, but they shouldn't by much.

By the time a dancer is around nine, they have a good idea if this is what they want to do, the things they might miss with a heavier load, and what types of dance they prefer. Around eight or nine is a good time to start approaching dance with a slightly more serious perspective and adding more hours if that is what the dancer wants.

The competition culture, especially in this youtube and Dance Moms era gives a very skewed image of what is appropriate training for very young dancers, not just hours of training but what types of skills are being taught, when they are being taught and how they are being taught (ie no progression of skills and skipping important foundational skills).

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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #4 
There's really no right answer here.  All we can give you is our personal experiences & perhaps a few things to think about.  My dd?  At 5 she was dancing an hr/wk, at 7 it went up to 2 hrs, by 10 I think she was doing 2.5.  Later that year she joined the performance group so her hrs started to creep up a little & by 12 she was on the comp team & taking about 12 hrs/wk of class (plus another 5-10 of rehearsal). She just turned 15 & this year & left the comp studio for ballet. She now dances about 15 hrs/wk.  The slow & steady approach did not hold her back at all. Fwiw her goal is to be a professional performer. 

Things to think about maybe.... once you dive in, it's easy to get sucked in.  And getting sucked in can come w/a significant investment in time & money.  Do you have other children?  Do you enjoy doing things as a family... vacations, weekends away, day trips? Would you like your dd to try other sports & activities?  Getting seriously involved in dance tends to come with many sacrifices.  And doing too much too soon does come w/the potential for burnout... as well as the potential for them to have trouble seeing themselves as anything other than a dancer.  Which comes w/it's own set of issues.

I'll be brutally honest, I'm not a big fan of little kids getting too involved/focused on any single activity but especially a year round activity like dance.  But I also know my opinion isn't what's most important here.  It may feel like the right thing for your dd & your family... only you can decide if it's worth the risks.  Just maybe make sure you know exactly what you're getting into before you get into it.  And don't get too far ahead of yourselves.  One class at a time. One year at a time.  Don't try to turn your dd into a dancer.  Just let her dance & have fun.  And let things unfold. Good luck!        

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My2DanceLoves

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Reply with quote  #5 
I really can't add much more to what heidi459 said.  I think that was very well put. 

I will add that on our team our youngest ones have 1 routine. We have two 7 year olds who do a duet and an 8 year old who does 1 solo.  If you decide to allow her to compete next year I would suggest making sure it's minimal.  Just the additional classes sound like a lot to me for a 5 year old so I would think hard about how much more to add.  And make sure you are clear on all that will be expected of her and you before you say yes.
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Klba37

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Reply with quote  #6 
DD11 started when she was 4, she took a 45 min combo class ballet/tap, the next year she moved to ballet/tap/jazz and added acro. Our studio doesn't start competition team until you are 8, and they are only there 3 hrs during the week and 1 hr on Saturdays unless they take acro or do production.
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LeapYear0208

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Reply with quote  #7 
Here is what we have done: 
Oldest: Combo class at 4. A few months into the season added Acro (which she had to test into as she was a year too young for the class). Skipped dancing age 5, she made it through like 2 months before flipping out. Now at 6 she is in Jazz, Tap and Hip Hop. She will not dance next season. She wants to do gymnastics.

Youngest: Started at 3 (ballet/acro), a few months into the season she got bumped to the 4yr old class (ballet/tap/acro). She is now in the 5yr old combo class (jazz, ballet and tap), advanced acro and an acro/jazz type class. Basically a community performance team-no competing. She will be moved up into the 6yr old classes next season (she is a year behind age wise) and she will take advanced acro again, jazz, tap, the community performance class and possibly ballet (she is iffy on that). So she will technically be 5 for the majority of the season, but will be in 4, maybe 5 classes a week.
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Lunafly

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Reply with quote  #8 
Thanks everyone. I agree that it's a bit too early to start thinking about competitions. I have seen some as young as 4 on the team, but they seem to get used more as a prop than anything else. Plus if we're going to add extra classes and such I want her to feel like she earned it. I don't want her to think that going to dance every day and going to shows and winning trophies is a given. I'll probably start next year with two classes and possibly add the acro later in the season if it seems like a good fit. Thanks again!
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #9 

Only you know your child and your family and what you can handle but I agree with Hiedi that it is easy to get sucked in and over extend them.

DS started dance at 2 with a ballet class - 1 hour/week.  At 3 we added tap.  At 4 he was asked to join the comp team and added jazz/acro - 3 hours total.  By 8 he was at the studio 15+ hours/week and it became too much.  The following year we moved to a new studio and cut back on his dances and added more technique/ballet classes.  He never burnt out and danced until he was 19 years old.  We were able to do all the hours because he was an only child so I didn't have to worry about dividing my time with other children.

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brightblue

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cndb
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunafly
The competition culture, especially in this youtube and Dance Moms era gives a very skewed image of what is appropriate training for very young dancers, not just hours of training but what types of skills are being taught, when they are being taught and how they are being taught (ie no progression of skills and skipping important foundational skills).


Love this. I have an 8 year old dancer and no background in dance, so I'm here trying to figure it all out. I do extrapolate from the things I know about that also take a very long time to be good at.

FWIW, my 8 year old is taking 9 hours of classes this year plus rehearsal plus competing a solo. That schedule does include some more rec-focused classes like her Musical Theater class which is really more fun song and dance performance than anything very hard core. She is very driven by nature and isn't interested in trying out any other sports or activities. Honestly while it puts her ahead of a lot of her peers at our studio (which doesn't demand many hours from the younger dancers). I'm quite sure any of them could catch up and/or pass her up if they get more serious in a couple of years. 

To answer the original question it sounds like your studio is proposing about 4 hours a week next year when your daughter will be six? I think that sound reasonable to me. Wouldn't suggest more. 
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JojosDanceMom

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Reply with quote  #11 
I agree with Heidi there is much to consider and she put it perfectly.  I also agree with cndb that it should be about what the child wants, not the teacher or parent.

All we can really offer beyond that is our own experience.  For me, my DD took her first class at 2.  It was technically a 45 minute ballet, but really it's more of a creative movement and focus builder at that age.  By age 5 she had moved up to a 90 minute ballet/tap/jazz combo.  At 6 she  was in a 1 hour ballet and a 1 hour tap/jazz combo... she'd also done a Christmas performance with a local civic ballet school and started taking an extra ballet class with them and she started competing so there was a 1 hour class for that.  So she jumped up quite a bit  from 5 to 6... but it was based on her own request and after 4 years taking and loving dance.  From that point she pretty much started adding about 1 class a year, give or take.  By the time she was 10 she was taking 10 1/2 hours a week.  At 11 & 12 she moved to a local pre-pro ballet school and jumped up to about 14 hours a week.  She moved back to the competition studio at 13-15 and dropped back down to 10 hours a week.  She decided that wasn't enough and now, at 16, she made a switch to her current studio and is taking 18-25 hours a week.

But this goes back to cndb's comment... all of the changes came from her expressing what she wanted.  I can't tell you the number of times I've heard moms of little one's saying "she cries so much about having to come here, but then she gets here and she loves it!".  Unless the child is going through something... separation anxieties, big changes at home, etc... then crying that they have to go may be a sign that they should try something new.  I mean, they could just be having a bad day... but if it's consistent then they probably just don't want to dance.  Point being, yes, even at 5 or 6 when most of the time they'll just follow along with what mom & dad tell them, they'll still let you know if it's what they want to do.  Listen to their wants with regard to dance or you could end up with a burnt out child by the time they're 10. [smile]
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Ktyyyyyyy

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Reply with quote  #12 
At this age, dance isn't about the training, it's about having fun, socialization, following directions, coordination, exercise, appreciating music, etc. If you watch a group of 10 year old dancers, you won't be able to tell which ones started dancing at age 4 and which one's started at age 7. How many dance classes your child should take at age 5 really depends a lot on her personality, what other activities she has, your budget, and how busy you want her to be. Is she starting kindergarten next year? You may want to wait and see how she adjusts to that before adding too much extra to her schedule.

DD started dance at age 4. Here is what she did during the early years:
Age 4 - 45 min ballet/jazz combo class
Age 5 - 1 hr ballet, 1 hr musical theater
Age 6 - 1 hr ballet, 1.5 hr ballet w/ stretching/conditioning at the end, 1 hr musical theater
Age 7 - 3 hr ballet, 1 hr stretch/conditioning, 1 hr musical theater, 1 hr contemporary, 1 hr jazz

DD auditioned for and was accepted into her studio's ballet academy at age 7. This was a more serious program with an emphasis on ballet. At age 8, dd joined her studio's competition team. This is when her hours really increased significantly. Doing both the ballet program and the competition team was/is a lot. This year, at age 13, dd also joined a pre-pro contemporary company and a student ballet company. Both companies have several hours a week of rehearsals, as well as their own, separate performances. DD is dancing an insane amount of hours this year, 7 days a week. It's really too much, and she has struggled some with time management. Next year dd will start high school, and will have to make some tough choices about dance. She will definitely keep dancing, but will need to cut back in order to meet the academic needs of high school. Academics will need to be her priority for the next four years since she has some very lofty college goals.
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Lunafly

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Reply with quote  #13 
This is all very helpful. Some added detail. My daughter just turned 5 and is and will be an only child so balancing other children is not an issue. I don't mind being busy with dance and enjoy the atmosphere of the studio and other parents. At this point she would probably go to dance every day if I let her. She definitely wants more, but there obviously has to be some limits. It's just amazing to me how much dance has changed in the last 20 years. When I was growing up it was nothing like this! 
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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #14 
My DD's all did about 5 hours a week at 5. That included ballet, jazz, tap, acro, musical theatre and the 6 years and under competitin team. It seemed like a lot but really wasn't for them. They loved every minute.
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Sarahbearsmom

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Reply with quote  #15 
It really depends on the child. DD5 started at 3 with 1 ballet\tap combo class, at 4 she did 1 ballet\tap\tumbling combo class and a 45 minute ballet class. This year she is dancing a total of 4.25 hours with 6 classes and loving it. I read on here awhile ago that a good rule to follow is that if your child is asking for more classes then you are probably okay, if they are not asking for more then you may have them in too many. DD7 on the other hand is at HIS limit with one 45 minute jazz class and a 30 minute tap class. That is all he wants to do. I will also add that both of my kids are homeschooled and are able to have tons of time playing at home and at play groups. If DD was in traditional school she would not be dancing as much as she is. I don't see any issue with letting your daughter add more classes next year. You can always pull her out of some if her interest drops. I would caution to wait to do comp though for maybe one more year. That is when things can get really crazy from what I understand (DD will be doing a duet this year for 2 comps only)
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my2miracles

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Reply with quote  #16 
Just another perspective:  my dd didn't start dancing until age 6.  From 6-8 she danced 2 hours per week.  From 9-11, she danced 4 hours per week.   At 11, she decided that she wanted more.  We moved studios & she got invited to their competition team.  She started dancing 12+ hours per week.  She is not behind, picked up quickly & even surpassed some of the girls who had been dancing since 3. 

I wouldn't worry about holding a 5 year old back.  She'll be fine.  It all balances out at some point.  I'd be more worried about burnout & injuries from over doing at a young age.
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Bonbonmama

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Reply with quote  #17 
At 5, my DD was doing an age appropriate ballet/tap combo, 1hr/wk. the serious ballet academy we were at had only ballet/tap combo classes (pre-ballet creative movement) up until age 6, where they had a "primary ballet" class in preparation for actual ballet classes which began at age 7. Nobody was allowed in the beginning ballet class until 7, and even if you were 15 when you started this is where you were placed (but would presumably move up quite a lot faster than the little ones). Move-ups were based solely on ability, never age. Beginning ballet was still only 1hr/wk until a few levels into it where it went up to 2-3classes/wk. that could mean the dancer was anywhere from 8 or 9 (if they advanced quickly) taking 3 90min classes/wk to some dancers being in the 1hr/wk class for several years. There wasn't any additional classes available when DD was little, later they did add some more possibilities like jazz, hip hop and musical thater for ages 6-up.
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crafty1

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Reply with quote  #18 
You have gotten some really great advice here. I don't have much to add, and I don't feel I'm qualified to talk about how much dance is too much for a 5 year old. My dd13 didn't start taking dance class until she was in 2nd grade, so she was 7. She took one 1-1/2 hour ballet-tap-jazz combo class a week. Actually, that's not right. She wasn't interested in taking jazz, so we were able to leave after the hour of ballet and tap were done. 2/3 of the way through the year, she wanted to add the jazz, but we waited until the summer. We weren't even remotely interested in competition dance at the time. It was just a fun activity that my daughter loved.

I do want to caution you about competition dance. It is REALLY easy to get sucked into it. Please start slowly and let it build as she gets older, if she loves it.

Good luck to you!
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Daniella03

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Reply with quote  #19 
My girl is 8 almost 9. She started with a once a week ballet class when she was 6-7, last year for 7-8 she took 4 classes, ballet, tap, jazz and hiphop. All 4 competed. She decided in January she didn't love hip hop and wanted to try other dances at the studio for this year. So next year for 8-9 she will take Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Musical Theatre, Acro and a stretch class. She will still only compete 4 numbers this year. Her true love is Ballet, with Jazz and Tap tying for second. I'm also going to let her do a Jazz Solo this year. We're going to look at it as a growth oppourtunity. She will spend every week this summer dancing as well. Between one stretch class a week all summer, two dance camps at the studio, one two week Junior SI and another one week Junior SI. She gets more than enough dance to keep her going. I think sometimes a slow build is just fine. It's easier to add classes and numbers than to take them away.
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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #20 
Our 5 year olds usually do ballet, jazz, tap, acro and a Musical theatre class which incorporates singing and acting. If they meet the minimum standard they can all be on the 6 years and under competition team which is 1 hours dancing and 30 minutes singing and they do a jazz dance, a tap dance and a song and dance one.

So in total about 6 hours a week. The classes are fun and they love it so they don't usually burn out because they look forward to it and it doesn't really feel like hard work.
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jazzminesun81

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Reply with quote  #21 
I agree with everything Heidi and Jojo's mom said. It all depends on the child, and what the child wants. It breaks my heart to see people forcing their kids to go to class. I get that kids have off days, but I do see quite a few kids who are clearly being forced to dance on a regular basis. DD is the opposite. Every time she gets sick, she hides it because she doesn't want to miss class. I always tell her that she needs to own up if she's throwing up or has a fever because it's not about her; she could get her classmates sick. On days DD has dance, she says she has enough classes, but on days she's off she asks for more dance lessons, lol. Here's the progression we did for DD, who is 7. Keep in mind, every time I've added classes, or when I added team, she was the one who asked for it.

Age 2-3 - started gymnastics, 1 hr per week (total 1 hr)
Age 3-4 - 1 hr gymnastics + 1 hr ballet/tap combo class (total 2 hrs)
Age 4-5 - 2 hrs gymnastics + 1 hr ballet/tap combo class + 1 hr hip hop class. Invited to join both dance and gymnastics teams at end of the year but chose dance. (total 4 hrs)
Age 5-6 - 1 hr ballet/tap combo, 1 hr hip hop, 1 hr acro, 1 hr jazz + 45 min team rehearsal (1 group number) (total 4.75 hrs)
Age 6-7 - 1.25 hr ballet/tap combo, 1 hr hip hop, 1 hr acro, 1 hr jazz, 1 hr lyrical, 1 hr aerial + 1.25 hr team rehearsal (2 group numbers) (total 7.5 hrs)

Starting this fall, she'll have the below. She asked for a duo/trio this year, but we haven't found out if she got it yet.
1 hr ballet
1 hr jazz
.75 hr tap
1 hr ballet technique
1 hr lyrical
1 hr leaps/turns
1 hr acro
1 hr hip hop
1 hr aerial
at least 1 hr rehearsal
Total at least 9.75 hrs/week

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elastigal

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Reply with quote  #22 
My DD has been slow at getting into dance. Age 3-4 she did a 30 minute rec. creative movement class. Nothing when she was 4-5. When she 5-6 she did a one hour combo class: Jazz/tap/ballet at her current studio. This past season when she was 6-7, she did one hour ballet tech and one hour rec. Jazz. This upcoming season at 7-8, she will be competing so she will have 3 hours ballet (2 tech + 1 choreo) and 2 hours jazz (1 tech and 1 choreo).
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jazzminesun81

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Reply with quote  #23 
Also, on holding her back, I wouldn't worry about it. Look at Misty Copeland, and she didn't start ballet until age 13 (though she is a prodigy and unusual). DD's mentor didn't start competitively dancing until age 11, and she's studying at AMDA now. Also, whenever I hear parents of our age group fret to our SO about progress, I hear her tell them not to worry as they're still very young, and I trust that she knows what she's doing. Dancers from our studio have gone touring in China, win scholarships to summer intensives, and have gone on to ABT, Juilliard, Joffrey, and other major dance schools. Don't get me wrong, we're only talking a couple a year going on and doing these crazy amazing things but the fact that every year, kids consistently get these amazing opportunities means that SO must be doing something right ;-)
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