Saturday, August 28, 2010

The not so Awesome Dancer...

So what exactly is disruptive misbehaviour in a 3 and a half year old?

Beloved and I are both feeling a bit thrown, well, quite upset, after getting bailed up by the teacher at Bear's dance class. She wasn't subtle. Bear doesn't always do what she's told, and when she [gets bored?] wanders off in a different direction or doesn't follow instructions properly, a couple of other kids (who I note approvingly must look up to her a little) do the same.

This particularly riled the teacher, who emphasised that because these other kids (who are Bear's friends from outside class) followed her, she was disrupting their learning.

Gutted. And not quite knowing in which direction to feel bad. Is Bear's behaviour, which is not loud or aggressive, age-inappropriate raucousness? We push child care to tell us if anything's up, but they've described her as generally obedient, patient, and a good sharer. This last point particularly comes out when we observe her with her other peers, and she seems to us to show mature conflict-resolution skills and tolerance.

Are we being those parents we don't want to be, who can't see that their precious little angel is really wild, undisciplined and in need of more discipline? If we aren't, perhaps someone (who teaches classes of much older kids as well) has a slightly impatient and even age-inappropriate attitude. Certainly the fact that she said

I don't want to shout at them, but...

twice, might have been telling. Because I wanted to reply 'great, I don't want to put a call in to the department administering your Working with Children Check'. But again- perhaps we're wrong, and 3 and a half year olds should know to remain tightly disciplined in dance classes.

Perhaps they should accept personal responsibility (or in lieu we, as their parents, should suck it up) if their own conduct leads others astray.

After all, Bear isn't 3 and a bit anymore, you've got to grow up sometime.


My childhood (and beyond), so much boredom, so much unfed creativity, so much annoying teachers with my inability to focus on their head-slapping repetition, all rushed into view. Bear already makes up songs, paints, loves to just get into an activity and explore. Are we letting her off the leash, setting her up for trouble? Should responsible parents get in and crush the dissent early so that their children have the best possible chance to thrive in school, being, per the Prussian model it evolved from, set up in much the same structured, one for all, way?

Kids are full of so much creativity and joy. Looking around, at the way we become as adults, I suppose it's not surprising we try to crush it out of them early.

Age appropriate kid versus impatient teacher, or feckless fawning parents? Certainly this will preoccupy Beloved and I for several wine-fuelled chats on the couch...


JahTeh said...

My poor man, three and a half and you worry, wait for thirteen and a half.

Obviously Bear likes the dance but will not be a dedicated dancer with nothing else in her life. The teacher should be giving Bear a little responsibility by asking her to show a younger child a few steps to help. This would engage her brain and make her concentrate.
It wouldn't have to be a big deal just move them a little to the side of the class.
You are going to run out of worry before you really need a lot of worry.

Penthe said...

I feel your pain. It sounds like the teacher is really not catering to three year olds - it should be fun and engaging and not about strictly following instructions at three. I don't think you are setting up Bear for a life of failure if you let her play and be independent, and I cannot imagine that you are a parent who is insensitive to other children or adults (in fact, your post shows the opposite).

Bear will manage everything, but I don't think she should be shouted at for being a typical three year old. I think I used to growl at the Noodle for that, and I wish to god I hadn't let myself be influenced by other people.

Deborah said...

I'd be finding another dance class if you can. One that emphasises fun, and movement to music.

My youngest daughter gave up on dance all thanks to one teacher who castigated her for doing it wrong, without ever trying to find a way of helping her to do it right...

Also, a child with an independent mind? Difficult and trying for parents and teachers, but how wonderful!

Mindy said...

What everyone else said. Sounds like she is getting bored and needs more to keep her attention. I'd be asking the teacher what is being taught when Bear is wandering about. Or just find another class that's more about fun.

Ann O'Dyne said...

is the dance class a division of the defence department?
Has the teacher not heard of Isadora Duncan or Merce Cunningham?
Wanting a pre-schooler to comply with regimentation is child abuse.
Find another place.
you want Preshill or Steiner or a place that's about the child, not about the teacher.
I am gobsmacked by what that woman said to you. she's an idiot.

cristy said...

Joining the chorus here. What a silly teacher. Three and a half year olds shouldn't be expected to adhere to a regime. She has completely inappropriate expectations.

I have seen footage of Lil in her dance class. She is wandering around in the background. No one cares. And she loves dance and remembers her favorite steps. She'd hate it if she was being forced to follow every instruction and step!

genevieve said...

I have never seen 3 and a half year olds in anything but a sandpit at a kinder, though I do have a niece who went to some ballet rather young. The other niece is still there, and is very independent. It sounds like the teacher could well be the problem to me, though I am inclined to think any kind of class at 3 and a half is a problem in itself.

Our idea of dancing at that age was to play Nutcracker at home and make up our own steps to all the divertissements. My grandma used to call it 'hising and thrashing'.
My own adaptation of this timehonoured family practice was to play The Blues Brothers soundtrack while cooking dinner. When Jake 'had seen the light' and James called out 'a well, well'et cetera, my two youngest used to have a good solid run up and down the house. Et amor vincit omnia.

Apologies for just lobbing in like this, but I saw the post excerpt on Pav's blog and just had to chase it up! :D
'Keep on trying till you reach some higher ground.'

Armagny said...

Thanks all. I kinda had a sense that it was all overkill.

As for whether classes at this age are too hectic, perhaps, given the way it's turned out. But it wasn't billed as 'hardcore ballet' or the like, just a fun, movement to music, bitsa everything sesh. And Bear's good mate goes (well, hence all the trouble if the 2 of them dare to stop and play for a moment- her folks got bailed up too).

Bear just likes her music, singing and dancing, and it looked like fun.

MsLaurie said...

Sounds like the teacher hasn't really adapted to the little ones - even if she's used to, say, five year olds, its a huge difference in the level of ability to concentrate.

Anonymous said...

I'm very behind the times, but if I lived where you live I'd be sending my kid to Miss Caroline to be a Tap Pet. She's all about the fun.