Many parents look at ballet classes as inevitable for young girls, or young boys, and are eager to sign their kids up as soon as they are old enough. Others may be concerned about the increasing level of competition, and the negative effect on body image that more advanced ballet classes may have on a child. The biggest question should likely be: does your child want to take ballet classes?
Not all girls want to be ballerinas, though some see them through a glass painted with sugarplums and want to take ballet classes. If a child expresses interest in taking ballet classes, try to find a gentle introductory course to the world of ballet. This should apply to boys as well. Some boys would love the opportunity to dance and express themselves through ballet, but may fear, especially as they age, that taking ballet will cause them to be teased by other boys.
Actually, it can help to realize that many of the best male ballet dancers presently are quite masculine. Further, many athletes, like football players and ice skaters, study ballet in order to attain more grace and body control. Ballet can be excellent training for the body and should not be a source of shame for the boy who wants to dance.
Ballet classes can be quite severe or quite gentle introductions to this celebrated form of dance. Unless you specifically dream of your child growing up to be a professional ballet dancer, you should look for classes that fit your child’s age, attention span and ability to take criticism. Early ballet classes should be a fun learning experience for beginning dancers.
However, some children respond well to criticism, even if it is somewhat harsh. The child who really wants to learn technique and to master ballet may do better with a less forgiving ballet teacher. If this appears too much for the child at any point, one might then consider a more fun-oriented teacher.
Ballet classes can be offered to children who are as young as three. Before that, basic dance and movement classes may be offered in “mommy and me” style, or with other groups of toddlers. Focus is on fun and learning to use the body in different ways.
Ballet classes can help those who struggle with minor coordination issues or clumsiness. Because the movements in ballet are so precise, training the muscles for this kind of precision can result in advances in both fine and gross motor skills. Some children may not be quite prepared at the age of five or six to deal with the precision of ballet, while other children may be ready at three or four. If your child seems to have trouble with the instructions and is a subject of ridicule to the other students, consider putting ballet off for a year or two.
The biggest key to deciding the matter is allowing your child to be involved in the decision. Also, don’t forget the many other forms of dance your child can experience. One child might love tap, Irish dancing or clog dancing more than ballet classes. Another child might be drawn to modern dance or jazz dance. The goal is to learn a little and enjoy the experience, initially, rather than to train up a professional dancer.