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MummytoIzzy

Best starting class for 7 nearly 8 year old

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My daughter started at a school in September.  It had been the intention to start at grade 1 but the ballet school put her in at grade 2.  I wasn’t aware of this until the class had started.  She has struggled with the technique side due to not studying ballet before.  The school is very small as does not have a grade 1.  The instructor suggested she tried primary ballet which she did yesterday but my daughter did not seem to enjoy this and seemed very much a step backwards as she has enjoyed doing the positions etc and grasped this.  My question is at this age would the grade one be most appropriate? They did have a stand in teacher and they said that she was at grade 1 level.  I do feel let down by the school as my daughter is so keen to do ballet and I feel this has been a false start being put in at a high level to start with and now being put down to fit in with the school.  She is very confused.  Thank you and I hope this isn’t as jumbled as I suspect it sounds. :) I just want her to enjoy ballet but to also follow the correct process.  Not being a ballerina myself I feel a little in the dark. 

Edited by Ian Macmillan
Moved here for a better chance of answers

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I would not usually step into a conversation about ballet training but having heard both Anita Young and Elena Gurliadze speak at a London Ballet Circle meeting they said something which, while it may seem blindingly obvious, may help you. A member of the audience asked  if ballet training was so good for the body why were there so many students at the SAB who were obviously injured? Their answers were very much practical and to the point and may be of help to you. They said that there were too many involved in dance training in countries where it is not regulated who had not been trained to teach ballet. They then spoke about training in general terms. I thought that what they had to say might be of help to you. Both agreed that when selecting a teacher you should always check to ensure that those giving classes are qualified as dance teachers and are registered with one or other of the specialist dance education providers. They also agreed that solid foundations were essential and that no element could or should be skipped.

 

Although it could seem very boring to a young student, and even more boring today when children have access to the internet, it was essential that a student began training with the basics and was taught by a qualified registered teacher. They agreed that while the basics are far from exciting they are essential to building a student's strength and preparing the body for the more interesting aspects of the ballet syllabus. No student should run before they can walk.

 

Please move the above post and my answer to the Doing Dance  section of the Forum

Edited by FLOSS
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Throwing a seven year old into grade 2 seems like a bit much. I’d be happier with her at primary as a parent - I think that’s what our 7-8 year old who’s been dancing for a few years is doing* - than at grade 2, especially if it’s very exam focused. I’m pretty sure grade 1 is where our ten year started when he started around that age. Are the primary students very much younger?

 

(* There are four of us going various dance exams. I can’t keep track. Also, Irish students tend to do exams a bit later than in U.K. )

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I think the average 7 year old might find Primary a bit babyish (is she just 7 as in Year 2 at school or does she turn 8 this academic year - year 3?)  But I agree with Colman that throwing a 7 year old beginner straight into Grade 2 is a bit much.

 

I would maybe look for a different dance school.

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She is in year 3 at school.  I agree that the grade 2 is not the correct level.  This was in fact something I brought up with the teacher at the beginning when I queried payment.  I paid and expected change as it said RAD grade 1 and the difference to the grade 2 was £5 and she said at that point it was now a grade 2 class.  I did at the time say that Izzy had no experience and this seemed a lot to take in and she assured me she could ‘catch up’ and it would be ok.  It became apparent to me that it was to much and I feel also to the teacher.  I appreciate the comments and feel I will be looking at changing to another school in the new year.  Thankfully my daughter physically is very strong she does swimming and trampolining and I don’t feel doing ballet as this level has been detrimental other than being confusing to her to change schools and levels through no fault of her own.  Let’s hope that it goes better with the change of school.  

 

Colman in answer to the age question the other Children in the primary class were 6 so not that different in age just a year and a half younger as they were in year 1.  Thank you 

Edited by MummytoIzzy
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19 minutes ago, MummytoIzzy said:

Colman in answer to the age question the other Children in the primary class were 6 so not that different in age just a year and a half younger as they were in year 1.

 

That's a big difference for that age group though. Being the 7 1/2  year old in a class of six year olds is a big deal.

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Hi, is it RAD or ISTD syllabus? If following the RAD grades, children have to be 7 years old before taking the Grade 1 exam. The benefit of doing Primary is that it gives chance to develop a bit more musicality and appreciation of rhythm, types of music and how to respond to the music artistically, before the technical details take more concerted effort, but I can imagine she's keen to progress, and I would expect that a competent teacher could see her potential and how best to progress. Above all, though, I would make sure the technique is being taught correctly, as you can't easily 'unlearn' bad technique and even worse, it can lead to injury. In our dance school, new children who join at a higher grade are offered extra coaching lessons besides the main classes so that they can catch up and not suffer lack of confidence in their peer group. Perhaps that's something available to your daughter? Or maybe it's better to look at another dance school. Some schools put on shows or take part in festivals, where they learn performance skills as well as taking exams, and taking part together often draws the students together in a wonderful way. We changed dance schools twice over the course of Pre-primary to Grade 3, before finding the best school possible where my dd has really flourished, though had to relearn some basics in her technique as things hadn't been taught correctly at the first two places! Good luck, and I hope you can find a way to keep your dd motivated and enjoying ballet!

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I agree with Colman, thats a big difference in age at that age and in terms of school its also a different Key Stage.  She will feel like she is in with the babies (infants) in the Primary class rather than junior age children.

 

 

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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I have found a ballet school that have offered a trial lesson when they go back mid January at grade 1.  They are a large established school and do shows etc.  The teacher is on the RAD site and it says they won dance school winner of the year.  Hopefully this will be a good fit.

 

I agree it’s a big difference in age and she does need structure.  I was looking through the door at one point in the primary lesson and one of the girls wasn’t listening to the teacher and was doing the ‘floss’ dance.  Izzy will really enjoy the grade 1 class I feel I just feel awful she has had a bad start in her ballet journey but thankfully it’s a short blip. 

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Hi. My daughter also started ballet fairly late - she was nearly 9, and went into a Primary/G1 combined class where she was, to her horror, the oldest. She stayed there for around a year until she skipped the primary exam to do her G1 and moved into G2. But within two years she caught up with the girls her age, and then overtook them and at 15 is in a CAT scheme and hoping to audition for vocational training next year.

 

My advice would be to show your daughter what this basic training can lead to - mine only did ballet because she was growing so fast and losing all coordination, but as soon as she saw girls en pointe she was determined to get to that level and it really spurred her on. As others have said make sure the teachers have the right qualifications, that the older pupils seem happy and are given opportunities like exams, shows, comps and associates if they want it and if not then maybe look around for somewhere else, we ended up moving for non ballet classes and my only regret was not doing it sooner!

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1 hour ago, MummytoIzzy said:

I have found a ballet school that have offered a trial lesson when they go back mid January at grade 1.  They are a large established school and do shows etc.  The teacher is on the RAD site and it says they won dance school winner of the year.  Hopefully this will be a good fit.

 

I agree it’s a big difference in age and she does need structure.  I was looking through the door at one point in the primary lesson and one of the girls wasn’t listening to the teacher and was doing the ‘floss’ dance.  Izzy will really enjoy the grade 1 class I feel I just feel awful she has had a bad start in her ballet journey but thankfully it’s a short blip. 

 

A belated welcome to the forum. ☺️ That sounds much better.  Try not to worry too much about the blip; as long as it hasn’t put her off ballet completely it will be fine! 

 

I agree that Grade 1 is a much better fit for a 7 year old.  A trial class is always a positive start and the new school sounds better organised.  

 

Once she’s settled and is hopefully loving her new classes, taking her to see ballet performances might help her see what all the exercises and steps are for.  If you can get to London, English National Ballet perform “My First...” ballets which are shorter than the full productions and also narrated so children have a better idea of the story.  

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I’m glad you’ve found a school that’s a better fit.

In my opinion Gr1 is the most important grade and it seems odd that a school would skip it!

Just can’t stress enough how important it is to get the basics right from the very beginning. As others have mentioned already, it is very difficult to go back and put things right once the work has become more challenging. A good teacher, who is prepared to go very slowly,  despite the parental pressures of exams, shows etc is the best decision any parent can make. Focusing on   perfect posture and learning how the legs rotate correctly from the hips, correct use of the feet, together with nuturing musicality, drama and fun, will stand your Dd in good stead, even if she only ever does it for fun.

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Totally agree and these were my concerns with her being in the wrong group.  Also the not having enough numbers did not seem like an appropriate reason for Izzy to not be in the right grade group for her.  She should not have to just fit in.  The instructor said to see how she felt and if she did not like it she could carry on in the group she is in and just not do the exams.

 

I feel changing schools is definetly the right decision. 

 

Thanks so so much for your help and advice.

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At our school, children are placed according to their school year, regardless of whether they've done ballet before.

 

My 6 year old DD went straight into G1. If she had started ballet next year, she would have gone staight into G2, in spite of a G1 class being available.

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14 hours ago, invisiblecircus said:

At our school, children are placed according to their school year, regardless of whether they've done ballet before. 

 

My 6 year old DD went straight into G1. If she had started ballet next year, she would have gone staight into G2, in spite of a G1 class being available.

 

Grrr I really hate this one-size-fits-all approach!

 

MummytoIzzy, I'm glad you have managed to find another school that seems much more suitable for your daughter. I am pretty shocked at the casual way that you were treated by bumping her up to G2 with no prior discussion or explanation, when you had specifically enrolled for G1!

 

(I would have expected something along the lines of "I'm really sorry, but we actually haven't had enough enrollments for G1 to be able to run the class this term. It may be possible to fit your daughter into either the Primary or the G2 class. I would suggest attending a trial class of each so that we can decide together which, if either, might be the most suitable - alternatively I can offer you a full refund now so that you can look for somewhere that can accommodate your needs better than I can right now.")

 

Her behaviour is a big red flag and IMO you have made the right decision.

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21 hours ago, invisiblecircus said:

At our school, children are placed according to their school year, regardless of whether they've done ballet before.

 

My 6 year old DD went straight into G1. If she had started ballet next year, she would have gone staight into G2, in spite of a G1 class being available.

 

So by that reckoning ds who started dance aged 13 would have gone straight into Grade 8. (He’s currently working on Grade 2 jazz & Grade 3 tap). 

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On 08/12/2018 at 18:03, Picturesinthefirelight said:

 

So by that reckoning ds who started dance aged 13 would have gone straight into Grade 8. (He’s currently working on Grade 2 jazz & Grade 3 tap). 


other than the interleaving of grades and VGEs  ... 

traditionally the first exam that  older beginners could take was Gr 6  unless they snuck under the  upper age limit of  gr 5  ... 
 

 

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I'm shocked that schools are grouping by age and not ability. My DD has done 7 yrs of ballet and has been the top score in the school in every exam, however she has just started tap and is now dancing with 7 year olds (she's 13). She loves learning at the right level and the younger girls think it's great to be able to help her! Definitely change schools. This one just wants you to fit in with them- they should be offering a G1 class if that's the level your daughter is starting at, regardless of how many students are or aren't at the same level. 

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