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Bullying/social exclusion in dance school - opinions?

(15 Posts)
MiaowTheCat Thu 04-May-17 17:05:20

Really at my wits end for this one. I've got two daughters - one's just turned 4, one's just turned 5. They've been going to dance class since about the age of 2 1/2 -3. Generally the dance school I like - the older kids are really kind and caring towards the younger kids and while there's a bit of a division between the competition mums and the once-a-week type crowd, it's more of a "can do a decent hair bun" versus "shit how the hell do I make this child look presentable for an exam" division than anything else.

DD1 in particular has picked up a fair few extra classes to the point where we're there 3 times a week for her... most of the time it's fine - but there's become an increasing issue with the Saturday morning tap/ballet class. Basically there's a very close group of mums in there, who've got kids who are (or are slightly steered towards being) close friends as well. Generally that's tolerable but when one kid in particular is there who is openly repulsed by DD1's presence (it's unbelievable to see how repulsed this girl looks when DD1 dares be in the same room as her) they absolutely stonewall DD1, to the extent they'll sit in a circle with their backs to her and the like.

Dance school have been aware of this going on and have been watching for it spilling over into classes and strategically positioning kids to put DD1 near kids she's likely to get on well with (DD1 is a bit boisterous and socially slightly immature but no monster, not a bad kid at all) and I've been trying to cut down the times DD1 can be left out by cutting arrival for classes as close as I can so there can't be any of it going on in the changing rooms etc. She loves dancing - and loves the staff at the school - so we also let her take other classes to try to widen the range of kids she knows there and make her feel more confident as part of things rather than just a Saturday morning attender. That's semi-worked... I've still got to grit my teeth and be chirpy through the Saturday morning hell of watching the changing room dynamics - but DD1's been OK about it.

Now I find out that it's overspilled a bit into the class with another child gravitating toward this clique and then telling DD1 her hair looks stupid and the like. Not quite sure where to go from here - I really don't want to take the kids out of dancing when they enjoy it apart from this - but it just seems like it's going to get nastier and nastier. Still need to try to catch the owner but I'm kind of at my wits end with trying to just be calm about it - but I'm socially awkward and excluded myself so I'm not sure how much I'm transferring it onto what's going on with DD1 (although someone else had noticed the revulsed face and mentioned it to me - not me myself).

Limited options for the same range of classes at do-able times around here - especially considering I have two girls to work with, and DD2's got language delay issues and the staff at our current place understand her when she's talking.

It's only going to get worse isn't it?! (Praying they all discover boys and want to pack it in isn't likely to help for a fair few years yet)

Asking here because it's more a dynamic you guys are likely to be familiar with rather than the standard school bullying type dynamic.

sewingjassy Thu 04-May-17 17:33:47

It's probably time to speak to the dance school owner, the parents of the child (ren) in question need to be approached I would say. They ought to take it seriously.

Yes to the comp/non comp parents and children divide! It's so bloomin' obvious at times. Or new comp people whose faces don't fit. I also know of girls who have left schools because of cliques/bullying.

nonicknameseemsavailable Thu 04-May-17 19:52:46

you do need to speak to them and perhaps when you do, give them a letter too, it is very hard for the teachers in dance schools to have time to chat between classes, especially for something that will take a bit longer.

our school wouldn't stand for that kind of behaviour and we do have at least a few really difficult children who the others find hard to get on with.

MiaowTheCat Fri 05-May-17 08:03:59

Yeah - hoping the owner's in this weekend (last weekend was the BIG local competition so it was skeleton staff).

nonicknameseemsavailable Fri 05-May-17 13:42:52

It is probably 1 child and 1 parent at the root of it all and chances are this isn't the first time x

Witchend Fri 05-May-17 14:03:54

I wouldn't go into the "competition group" and "fun group" because the owner may well want to keep the competition group happy. It also makes it look like you're categorising into them and us.

I would email them say exactly what's going on and ask for a time to speak.
If they won't listen then vote with your feel. There'll be other schools that will deal with it.

Dd2 left her school she's been with 10 years after I spoke to the teacher who first denied it and then when I said i'd watched it happening the day before only offered that she should rise above it. She was the fourth child from her class to leave due to this child. I know at least 3 others who have left subsequently, and I suspect others.

She's now at a school where I emailed to let the teacher know that dancing could be a flash point for her anxiety as she'd been bullied in dance and I got a response within an hour that said roughly. "Oh I'm so sorry, I hadn't noticed anything, please tell me who it is and I'll speak to the parents as soon as I can get hold of them. I'm not having bullying in my class..." She was very relieved when she found it was the old school not hers.
That is why there is, for my knowledge, no bullying in the new school-they all seem really supportive of each other, and the other school had a major issue with it still.

MiaowTheCat Fri 05-May-17 16:47:24

It's not the competition group that's the problem - it's one bunch who do one class on a weekend morning annoyingly.

I've had some issues with other mums not liking me and sitting sniggering with their buddies about me - but we've outlasted that and their kids have quit and moved on and I can deal with parental crap - but it's kids directly needling DD1 this time. One kid in particular I believe who happens to have been put right next to her in this exam routine they're doing lots at present (I actually doubted DD1 telling me this until I checked the exam list and the child named is next to her which makes me believe it).

Think there's a real issue with this one weekend class dynamic - they had to split the class down more by age because of sheer numbers but another mum mentioned her child had hated that class until it split as well - so there's something funny going on.

Maybe they'll all decide en-masse to go take up formation paper folding or something for next term!

AlexanderHamilton Fri 05-May-17 20:08:48

I feel for you op.

When dd was in primary her class was quite small there were about 11/12 girls in the class & they split into two distinct friendship groups. Dd's friendship group was a group of 6 girls.

Several times dd would be the only one out of this group of 6 not invited to an event. it was very upsetting for her.

AlexanderHamilton Fri 05-May-17 20:09:15

Wrong thread how did that happen?

mogmum Sun 07-May-17 16:22:11

Similar thing happened to me but my dd is older, Group of girls ( funnily that used to all go to the same Saturday classes whereas my dd didn't) The pushy parents trying to move them into the higher grades and do exams quicker and all very good friends with the teachers/owners so the kids got what they wanted all the time whereas my dd had to work her butt off and not get recognized.
One day my dd came home and said that she had had enough and when I spoke to the owner it was plain to see that she didn't believe me, so I voted with my feet and left.
She attends another local dance school now and shes really happy there.

I hope you can get it sorted as it's a horrible situation to be in

MiaowTheCat Sun 07-May-17 17:39:22

Got wrong today for mentioning it to the staff member taking the class this weekend (as owner wasn't there) so they could keep an eye out for it that day. Feeling somewhat irked and not exactly wanted around there right now but I know tone and inflection are hard to convey in emails - so going to discuss it in person and see where we go from here. Very much get the impression from the email though that DD1 isn't being believed here though... but like I say... emails always hard to judge.

Otherwise we see if the school's resolved it next session I guess or start looking elsewhere - which is a shame because both kids love dancing there and are settled.

Perhaps it's just my usual knack of catching people on a bad day or (as I suspect) I'm not the only parent who's complained about stuff going on when the owner's not been there for a run of sessions recently and mine was the email that landed at the time when patience had worn thin.

lottieandmia Wed 10-May-17 10:26:45

This sounds like jealousy of your dd to me.

There is no way I would let my child be bullied out of a dance school but if the staff are unwilling to address it then definitely try to find another school - there must be another solution?

dodobookends Wed 10-May-17 13:49:42

OP, your dd's are still really young, and they would soon settle in to another dance school if you were to move them. If you aren't happy with how this is being dealt with by the current school, then go with your gut instinct about what is best for your dd's.

MiaowTheCat Wed 10-May-17 18:48:38

Seems to be on its way to being resolved and DD is much happier so will see how things pan out over the next couple of weeks I think now.

TrollMummy Mon 15-May-17 17:09:25

I hope it gets resolved OP. I think there is an element of cliquishness at many dance schools, mainly among the fiercely competitive 'dance mom' types determined that their child is going to be a star. At DDs dance school the kids are mostly ok it is the mums that are the problem. It's the ones that sit and criticise or comment on the kids dancing that bother me, as if taking your DD to dance lessons suddenly makes you an expert. I keep a low profile and just drop and run when I can and ignore them as much as possible.

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