I have a little dancer at home. She twirls, she preens, she bows and curtsies. She has been dancing at home from young.
She loves wearing tutus of all forms, especially if they come in her favourite colour – pink.
She also loves twirly dresses and skirts.
She admires little ballerinas whenever we are out, their bunned-up hair, white stockings and pink leotards. She is thrilled when I do her hair into a pseudo bun (because I don’t know how to do a real bun).
She loves dancers’ costumes and princess dresses.
There’s just a little problem. I’ve asked if she would like to take ballet or dance lessons. But her reply? “No.” A firm and unwavering no. Why, I ask? “I’m scared, mummy.”
Well, I didn’t think it was a problem initially. She doesn’t want to go for class, so be it, just continue dancing at home. So while I haven’t pressed the issue about sending her for dance classes, I have occasionally brought the question up to her. She doesn’t attend any classes outside of school. It is partly because I don’t think it’s necessary to be going for the various academic enrichment, but also partly because she is averse to going to any class. “I only want to go to school. I don’t want to for go for other lessons or learn anything else, I just want to play with Mummy/stay at home,” is her stock reply.
Then I got feedback from her teachers at the parent-teacher meetings in her school. They said Shannon is well-behaved, but timid and shy. It’s more like the opposite at home. But that’s that’s her public persona. She still cries on and off when I send her to school, but I don’t worry too much about it. I leave her in her teacher’s care and leave quickly. I’m told she is perfectly fine once I’ve left. But her teachers’ recommendation is that she be exposed to and encouraged to try new things, so as to be more confident and independent.
In an attempt to get her out of her shell, I signed her up for a free trial class for ballet. I prepped her beforehand, even though she vehemently said no. On the day of the class, I gave her a newish tutu I found on sale, and made her wear it to class. She was the only one in the class in tears. The other kids are the same age or younger than her. She was not crying all the time, but maybe 30-40% of the time. The rest of the time? She was intently watching the other girls, and even following the steps! She hung back most of the time and refused to join the other girls, but could do the various exercises with little problems.
I got tired of encouraging her to join the rest and just let her be towards the end of the class. She followed the class from 5 steps behind them. All the while I wondered if I should bother pressing on with this.
Then the ballet teacher spoke to us after the trial. It turned out, the decision whether to have her attend ballet class was not up to me. Two of the girls passed with flying colours and could join a class once it had enough girls to start. Shannon? “She needs a re-trial. We offer more than one trial class for children who need it,” said the ballet teacher. “She has no problems doing the exercises but we need her to be independent in class.”
The dilemma: Is it necessary to get her out of her shell? Should I continue to push her to attend a class when she is perfectly happy dancing on her own at home?
Check out how her second trial class went!