Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gymnastics Recital- Take Two: Level 1

Level 1 is typically beginners over the age of 5. Some kids fly through level 1 so fast that it's just a quick stepping stone for them. And other children spend a year or more there. It's tough to make a kid stay in level 1 if they feel they should move up. Typically parents feel a child should move up after a year/season. I've had quite a few parents get upset with me because I don't feel comfortable moving their child up to level 2. In order to move up, a child needs to have a good, solid cartwheel. In my completely unprofessional opinion, a child shouldn't move to Level 2 unless they can do a straight-legged cartwheel. The problem when you move them too soon is that in Level 2 you're no longer working on cartwheels, you're working on handstands and round-offs. So when a child can't even do a proper cartwheel, they are already behind. It's not fair to them, or to the rest of the class. It's hard to tell a parent, after a year or more, that their child still needs to be in level 1.

I have three level 1 classes this year. They can be fun, and they can be a lot of work. The kids are new in gymnastics, typically, and are excited to learn. Some kids are there because their parents make them and they don't actually want to learn. Luckily, I don't have any of those this year.

My first level 1 class had 10 kids when I started the year, with a long waiting list. I had to open a 2nd class as a result. Now there are 4 sweet little girls, two of them are returning students from last year. I had a hard time choosing a song for them because when we first started our recital rehearsals there were 6 girls in the class, and a big age difference between the youngest and oldest. I needed something that fit them all. I settled on "Naturally" by Selena Gomez because I figured everyone would know who she was. Nope. But that's okay because they all like the song.
I also like this song because there are definite tempo changes in the song that the girls can use for key points in the choreography. It makes it easier for them to remember when to do something when it fits the song.

My second level 1 class was a result of a waiting list of the first. I've had so many children in and out of that class all year long. The 4 girls I have now are not the same kids I started with. At one point I was about to shut down the class because all the students missed several weeks in a row. Then suddenly one night these 4 girls showed up, and here we are!
I originally picked a remixed song by Elvis called "Rubberneckin'" because I had a boy in the class. The boy dropped out and the girls did *not* like that song. Going through my iTunes playlist with the girls one night, they got their heart set on none other than "What Is Love" by Haddaway... of Night at the Roxbury fame. Complete with head bob ala Will & Jimmie, the girls are having a lot of fun with this one. None of the kids can "tumble" too well, so we just went for "fun routine" instead of "show off our skills" routine. It works!

My third level 1 class has also morphed into something completely different than it started out to be. I began the year with a class full of eager beginners. There has been a waiting list for this class at this time slot all year. Eventually I was down to three little girls. Two of them were ready to move up to level 2, so I bumped them up. One little girl was left by herself for a few weeks. Unbeknown to me, there was still a waiting list for the class. No one who had dropped the class, or moved up, went to the front desk to take their name off my roster. So I had one little girl, and a waiting list. Finally we got it all taken care of and admitted three new girls. They were so little, ages 4 and 5. The first girl, who was by herself for awhile, left us, and now we have three really cute little princesses whose big sisters are all in the level 2 class that's taught at the same time by another teacher.
First I picked the song "Dancing Crazy" by Miranda Cosgrove. I thought it would be a fun song for the girls, but it ended up being too fast for their limited skills. Another teacher wanted to use that song for her class so I said "have at it!" One thing about picking these songs is that you have to pick something that fits the class. If the class can handle a fast upbeat song, then go for it. If they can't, then maybe find something slower. Which is exactly what I did! I took my little princesses and found them a princess song. I made little princess wands for them to have during their routine, too. They are so excited! Especially because they get to keep their wands after Saturday.
Our song is "Today Was A Fairytale" by Taylor Swift. (And OMGosh this video is *so* cute!!)

Tonight is our dress rehearsal. I'm very anxious to see how things will play out. Some of the classes really know their stuff and I'm not worried in the least. Other classes have kids that were absent on so many days that they don't know the routine. I had one class where the girl was gone for a month and a half, then just surprised me last week. I had changed the whole routine to exclude her, then had to confuse everyone by changing it back to put her back in. It's such a challenge not only for me, but for the kids. We all have to figure out how to maneuver around these distractions.

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