As parents, we all dream a bit about what our children’s lives will look like. Sure, we know we cannot predict everything, but we still imagine certain things. I always expected at least one season of parenthood would include ballet for kids in our schedule.
It turns out I was right, but not in the way I expected.
We welcomed a daughter in 2016. She was born a bit early, she had some minor health issues, but we did not expect anything would prevent future ballet slippers.
As the months went on, we realized she was taking a bit longer than anticipated to reach milestones. Nothing too obvious at first. However, even once she learned to walk, she spent months taking just a couple steps. This was even with physical therapy.
Would ballet for kids be something we could still pursue?
Caregiver and Me Ballet – The Start
At the International Ballet Academy, we offer a caregiver and me class. As a work from home parent, I wanted to balance my time to include moments set aside for quality time. Caregiver and me classes seemed perfect.
Knowing she would struggle more than her peers; we still took the leap. Every class, I questioned if ballet was still the right choice for her. There was fussing about tights. Discomfort with slippers. Distractions with the props.
Like many little ones, she was enthralled by the ‘real’ ballet dancers she had seen in large tutus and stage makeup. She loved her ballet clothes – in theory, the sensory input, not so much.
But we persevered and we saw the many benefits! This child with hypotonia (loose muscle tone), she was developing ankle strength. The girl who was taught to fall safely in physical therapy, she was learning to keep her balance.
Ballet became the whole-body exercise needed to help her body reach its best.
Online Caregiver and Me Ballet Classes
Just as we were seeing the benefits of ballet, between the struggles of sensory challenges and hypotonia, the world shut down. The Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to in-person activities for obvious safety reasons.
With that, a transition to online classes. We still struggled with all her unique needs. However, we still benefited from the unique aspect of online ballet classes for kids.
In the comfort of her own home, she continued to master pre-ballet skills. She was still exposed to the patterns in music and movement, both vital for neurodevelopment.
As life opened back up, after quite some time, the appeal of online classes remained. No commute to a dance studio to squeeze in our busy day. There was no need to pack dance bags and find a way to stay busy while waiting for her classes to finish.
Creative Movement Classes
Caregiver and me ballet is a bit of a pre-ballet class. True ballet requires immense core stability which we do not have until closer to eight. However, that class and creative movement classes are pre-ballet which aid in developing strong core stability.
As we transitioned to creative movement level of ballet, we continue to deal with challenges but also immense benefits.
However, after a year with her current ballet teacher, the instructor could not believe this child once had a major gross motor delay. I explained the premature birth. The neurosurgery and physical therapy. I shared the motor delays, sensory challenges, and even the ADHD. And while we still had some noticeable struggles, she was one of the most skilled dancers in her class.
Early and frequent exposure to ballet had strengthened her once weak legs, ankles, and feet. She cannot outgrow the hypotonia, but she can compensate with strength. The unique full body engagement of ballet was key in overcoming a physical challenge.
The child who once constantly tripped, now swirls through the house on one foot. She spins in the doctor’s office waiting rooms. She motor plans her way over uneven surfaces while twirling to music patterns in her head.
For some, ballet is simply a childhood activity. For children like my daughter, ballet for kids was truly impactful.
Are you ready to help your child achieve improved physical fitness and cognitive development? Get started today and register for the class which best fits your child.