What do you do when your little girl catches the ballet bug and starts gliding, twirling, and standing en pointe anytime and anywhere? When she insists to be in her pink leotard from her Dress Up Box the whole day, through lunch and naptime? When she makes her pink ballet shoes her house slippers? When she announces that she is a ballerina? When the inevitable question comes…
Are you going to send her to ballet school?
We almost did send her. But then I googled (“what age should a child start ballet?”), asked around, and stumbled upon a thought that changed my mind as fast as a ballerina’s pirouette:
I know ballet classes can be fun. For Little T’s age, the kids just do stretching exercises and different movement activities, and the teachers do not really teach them the ballet positions yet. It’s not like they’re training for Black Swan, right? But like my stand about going to school really early, I believe that it’s still best to just let a very young child, my child who is just three, twirl and pretend to her heart’s content at home. I leave her be and let her imagination flourish as she creates her own little dances.
With the ballet school question settled in my mind, I set out to encourage Little T’s fascination with ballet. I put on my dancing shoes, twirl and do the plié with her, and arrange our Learning Basket whenever she asks for “pretend ballet lessons” with me.
BOOK Our “lessons” are based on “The Little Ballerina,” a vintage book I bought at Books for Less because of the charming illustrations of a girl going to ballet classes. Pictures of the first to fifth positions as well as the arabesque and ronds de jambe thrilled Little T and actually inspired her to ask me to “study” it. We also learned all the ballet vocabulary I use freely in this post.
COSTUME Ballet at home does not require a costume but it certainly makes it much more fun and exciting. We have:
- Three hand-me-down leotards
- A pink skirt for a tutu
- Pink ballet slippers given by Little T’s aunt last Christmas
- An old pink cape for when she is the “Flying Ballerina”
BALLET MAT To help Little T remember, I created a ballet mat with the first to fifth positions by tracing her feet on a manila paper. For clear pictures of the feet and hand positions, I looked at this site.
MUSIC Though Little T dances and does ballet poses all around the house without any music, we still have a dedicated music and dance time. Dance with Me by Kindermusik’s ABC Music and Me is our default CD because it has classical, tap, waltz, and jig music.
Little T, Baby Boy, and I dance our own brand of ballet and tap and have a rocking good time feeling the different rhythms of the two dances. I swing Baby Boy in the air for ballet and hug him close to me as I do some tap and Little T prances around us. For your own ballet lessons at home, any classical music you can sway with will be perfect already.
We don’t have to be dancers to have a good time dancing with our children. A little creativity and imagination can go a long way. Especially if you are a former pretend ballerina who used to glide, leap, and twirl across the living room.