to think this is not normal for 5 year olds?

(48 Posts)
WaferMoon Thu 19-Sep-13 11:17:04

I teach dancing classes - mostly older kids and adults - but recently started teaching a group of 5-6 year olds. There are 6 of them in the class, all girls. So not a large group.

These kids are all in school so presumably are used to waiting, listening etc. However, I can't seem to "control" them at all. The first lesson was absolute chaos - kids running everywhere and not listening to me. I realise they were probably excited as it was the first lesson. The second week started off the same, so I realised we needed more structure than I thought. I used every trick I had up my sleeve - reward stickers, sitting on their own "spots" until I called them for their turn, everything I could think of. Marginally better but still mostly behaviour management and little actual dancing. Several of the girls said "no" to whatever I asked them to do. I am very jolly and usually good at getting them to try. By week 4 things were no better so I got a bit stricter - telling them firmly to come back to the line when they wandered off, reminding that stickers were only for the girls who listened. I had 2 kids in tears telling me they wanted Mummy.

I don't have as much experience with this age group as with older girls, but I've had 3 5 year olds myself and don't remember them being this difficult! Am I expecting too much or do I have a particularly difficult bunch of dancers?!

canweseethebunnies Thu 19-Sep-13 14:33:54

Bump - because I'm interested in responses (I only have a four year old, so don't know). Also sounds like you could do with some tips!

OHforDUCKScake Thu 19-Sep-13 14:38:08

Where are their mums during the lesson?

YouTheCat Thu 19-Sep-13 14:40:10

They should be able to manage to follow simple instructions at that age and also behave. Tbh the 5 year olds where I work are often better behaved than the older children.

How much longer are the dance classes for? Would it be viable to talk to the parents about your concerns that the children are not getting the most out of the classes due to their behaviour?

If you are getting back chat, that is bad. I'd be mortified if my kids had been so disrespectful.

OHforDUCKScake Thu 19-Sep-13 14:42:03

Have you tried firmly saying if you cannot behave then sit out until you can. And sitting them away from the group?

daftdame Thu 19-Sep-13 14:42:06

Why not build in the more structured stuff gradually, when they get more interested in the dancing?

If there is a lot of waiting around and they don't know how good the actual dancing is going to be there will be a lot of getting bored with little anticipation? They are still very young.

So can you not start in a big group and get them to follow you with some very fun music and games first? The gradually slow the activity down. Then when they begin to settle down build in more individual pieces.

kim147 Thu 19-Sep-13 14:42:53

Shouldn't be - they should be used to following instructions at school.

How do you start your lessons? Structure and getting them active is really important.

I hate teaching PE but I know that it's important for them to be doing stuff. It should not need stickers.

Thepowerof3 Thu 19-Sep-13 14:43:34

That doesn't sound right for a 5 year old, my 4 year old doesn't behave like that in her dance lessons

loveisagirlnameddaisy Thu 19-Sep-13 14:47:04

My daughter is nearly 4 and goes to ballet in a class with about 20 girls of similar ages (3 to 6) and they all behave when they're told to. A couple might get distracted or talk to their friends but they pay attention when the teacher tells them to. She is on her own with two teenage helpers and can manage to control them. I would have thought one adult to six girls would be more than enough.

Is it a new class or have they been taught by someone else before? I'd have a word with their parents. Sounds like very poor behaviour if they're saying 'no' to your requests.

bamboobutton Thu 19-Sep-13 14:47:07

do these girls actually want to be there or are they living their mums(or dads) dreams of being a dancer?

I remember behaving badly at ballet lessons because I did not want to do it, I would have been 7ish.

MrsMelons Thu 19-Sep-13 14:59:30

I have seen lots of 4/5 YOs in dance classes over the years and I have never seen them behave like this, maybe the odd child but usually they leave pretty quickly. I actually started dancing at age 2, proper formal lessons and there were several 2-3 YOs in the class and they didn't behave like that either.

It is hard to say whether the structure of the class is not right for that age but from what I have seen the children are rarely left waiting for their turn and do most things as a group, at the end if they have learnt a routine they may then do it in 2s or 3s.

DeWe Thu 19-Sep-13 15:24:50

Doesn't sound right. Our ballet teacher starts at age 2yo. The youngest class is about 15 2-3yr olds. You get the odd one who doesn't want to join in and watches, but they basically do as they are told the whole time.
But they are generally listening and engaged the whole time pretty much.

If they'd gradually started this, I;d say it is something you are doing-perhaps setting the class to easy/hard. As they came into do it then there seems to be more of a problem with them.

Perhaps stickers throughout might help. "Who can point your toes nicely? Well done A beautiful have a sticker. B that's lovely have a sticker..."

hiddenhome Thu 19-Sep-13 15:27:51

Blimey, we never had this stickers for everything lark when I was growing up. If an adult told you to do something, you did it hmm

Parents are too reluctant to instill discipline in their children any more. I see it at school. They'll all pandered to and mollycoddled.

Mama1980 Thu 19-Sep-13 15:28:11

My ds is. 5 attends 2 dance classes a week of about 20 one formal one not and they always behave in fact I can't believe how ordered they all are. The teacher gives them all a sticker at the end and it's quite fast paced for them. Ds loves it

pixiepotter Thu 19-Sep-13 16:31:28

I am a gymnastics coach and if they won't do as they are told, I make them sit out for a while.You have to be very firm and consistent.If you have one 'bad'un' they lead the others astray!

exoticfruits Fri 20-Sep-13 06:54:30

They sound as if they are not ready for it and that they are just there because their mothers wanted it. You shouldn't give stickers just to follow instruction- they are there to follow instructions.
If you only have 6 I would be inclined to terminate it, tell the parents they are not ready. Next time you try that age be strict from the start and lay down your expectations.

WaferMoon Sat 21-Sep-13 11:24:33

Sorry for the delay in coming back - when I posted this thread it didn't show up in AIBU for some reason so I thought something wasn't working, then came back today and saw the replies.

Thanks for the tips. I could give stickers throughout the lesson, but I would have thought one sticker at the end of a 30 minute class should be enough.

I'm relieved to hear that some of you have dcs of this age or younger who successfully participate in dancing classes, and it's not just me not managing them well! However I'm prepared to admit some of the problem might be my relative lack of experience with this age group.

The structure I use is - a fun warm up to music, supposedly following me but flexibility to dance around their own way if they want to. Then into a circle or line for some basic steps/moves. The first week I tried doing it all together so they wouldn't have to wait, but it was a disaster so since then I've had them sitting on the floor until I call them. There are only 6 of them so they're not waiting more than a minute for their turn. After that we do some "around the room" moves, incorporating games like "follow the leader". We end with free dancing to songs they know like Disney tunes, or we play musical statues.

The mums wait outside, I don't want them in the room. When they ask me how their child did, I tell them honestly if they didn't want to join in or didn't listen at times. I don't know if they all want to be dancing but the mums say they do. The ones who say no to me, I remind them about the stickers which sometimes works. Sometimes they opt out altogether and sit at the side. I tell them "we don't say no in here" - that's when one of them started to cry. confused

pixiepotter good to know you have to be firm - I will plod on!

FriendlyLadybird Sat 21-Sep-13 11:39:15

I'm very surprised. I peek in through the windows of my 5yo DD's class occasionally and they are all behaving wonderfully, learning formal technique.

I did discover, when organising games at her birthday party in January, that I could get 20 4-5yos eating out of my hand -- but only if I was very, very high energy myself. We didn't do any one thing for too long, and no one did any waiting or sitting out.

Maybe you're allowing them a little too much flexibility? As I said, DD's class is pretty formal. They do a warm-up in a circle, and then do other steps following the teacher -- absolutely no dancing around by themselves.

quoteunquote Sat 21-Sep-13 11:54:06

Get some older children who they can follow, they sound self conscious.

WaferMoon Sat 21-Sep-13 12:45:03

Older helpers is a good idea actually.

High energy is right - I am exhausted afterwards! I also agree that they need a lot of structure. The only planned dancing around part is at the end. They just constantly resist it which surprised me - I remember my dd's 5th birthday party with about 15 kids and it being far easier than expected. They were all at school and there was a massive difference from the 4th birthday party as regards kids opting out, getting upset etc.

Any ideas for managing structured tasks better? I've been insisting they sit in line or join the circle but they wriggle out of holding hands, run off the second I put them on their spot and if I try to adjust the music for a second I've lost the whole lot of them! One girl simply does nothing I ask until I threaten no sticker - she just stands there and stares at me. She does understand as she does it perfectly for the sticker. She arrives each week with a nanny who doesn't speak English so I've not been able to talk to the mum. Another girl says no to everything - last week I firmly told her to come back into the line as she couldn't hear me all the way over there - cue crying and "I want my mummy!" Good grief.

The other 4 are better but led astray by the 2 monkeys! Any more tips deeply appreciated!

ICantGoOverItICantGoUnderIt Sat 21-Sep-13 13:40:37

It sounds to me like they got into bad habits in the first couple of weeks and sort of decided that they could do what they like at dancing. I've seen it before with student teachers at school who don't want to be tough when faced with challenging behaviour because they want the children to like them and have fun. It can then be a little overwhelming for children of this age when the student does start to clamp down - they thought they had things sussed and you're changing the rules, hence the crying.

What I would do now is, above all, make a big fuss of any desirable behaviour there and then. Lots of verbal praise followed by a sticker, even if it's interrupting what you're doing. "Jessica came straight to the front when I asked her! Well done Jessica, that makes me so happy! I think you deserve a sticker for doing what I asked straight away!" Forget about stickers at the end of the lesson. They're with you for such a short time they need to see straight away what type of behaviour you want from them. Sadly, these days stickers are not really that exciting to children and I imagine at the end of the lesson when they're not going to see you again for a week, they can pretty much shrug off not getting a sticker at the end. But if they do something well and can go out and say "Look mum, I got a sticker from Miss Moon because I was sitting nicely!" then it might start to sink in for everyone. That way it is also about praise for desirable behaviour and leaves out any sense of punishment for negative behaviour if someone doesn't get one.

In this vein, I would also try praising others if one child is not cooperating. If Molly tries to wander off or is wriggling about, literally name check everyone else who is doing as asked. "Jessica's standing nicely, so is Amy, well done girls. I see Chloe standing very nicely too..." Sometimes this can be enough to pull the wanderer back into line.

If one child is resolute and will not cooperate despite praising others, I would give one chance "Molly, you need to come and join in sensibly or you will have to sit out." If she cooperates, a low key "Good choice Molly," is enough (or they will all be tearing off so you make a fuss of them!). If she continues, be swift and firm, take her hand if necessary and take her to sit at the side. If she protests, calmly say "You need to sit here until you can join in sensibly." If she counters, "Show me you can be sensible by sitting here nicely." And return to the other, ignore any further protests or crying. Be as sweet, happy and enthusiastic with the others as you can. Make Molly think you're having fun so she wants to join in. When she does sit nicely for a minute or so invite her to return with no praise for sitting nicely. "Are you ready to join in sensibly now?" Be consistent and follow through. It would be nice if positive behaviour management worked every time but some children need to see that there can be consequences if they misbehave.

I hope this isn't patronising. Perhaps you've done all this and you've struck it unlucky with the combination of children in you're class. I have sometimes found myself get into a sort of negative groove with a class and need to pull myself back by reminding myself to praise, praise, praise and act quickly on any outright defiance or rudeness.

Turniptwirl Sat 21-Sep-13 13:47:23

I know having them all doing things together is chaotic but it does sound like the waiting around isn't helping.

thegraduand Sat 21-Sep-13 13:51:23

My 4 year old has done ballet for a few years and I've not seen classes behave like this. There was only a helper in the class for 3 yr olds, and never parents in the room.

Things I've seen her teachers do

- only a sticker at the end of the class (small cheap ones, but they seem to love them)
- ignoring children who run off, making the class more fun for those who are involved
- almost all tasks involve all children, or giving each one something different to do to keep them busy e.g. mini-circuits
- if it gets too bad, send the child out of the class to the parent until they calm down

ICantGoOverItICantGoUnderIt Sat 21-Sep-13 13:52:48

I've just retread one of your posts, perhaps you should insist they copy you at the start instead of giving freedom to do their own moves. The mixed message her might make them think they can opt in our out at other points in the lesson. When it's free dancing at the end, make it very clear you want to see their own moves and they don't have to copy you.

Also perhaps a little positive peer assessment when they're doing their individual bits would engage the children who are sitting watching. After Molly has finished her individual part, ask "Chloe, what did you see Molly do really well just now?" Or just ask for hands up if someone's got something nice to say about Molly's dancing. After a couple of times when they catch on, they are usually very keen to share something nice about their friends.

I'll stop now, hope my rambling are of some help.

Worriedkat Sat 21-Sep-13 13:56:24

My sons classes have a 'star of the week' large sticker at the end, smaller stickers for all the other kids. Incentive to do their best to get star of the week (rotate who actually gets it).

Can you have another adult in the class next week, not one of the mums but someone strict who you can say is a helper? Might encourage them to knuckle down and listen.

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