Dance Class vs Tumble Class for 3 Yr Old

Updated on September 05, 2010
B.W. asks from Denham Springs, LA
12 answers

I am having a difficult time deciding what type of class to put my 3 yr old daughter in. I know I want to do one but when I ask her she goes back and forth on which one she wants and I know its all because she really doesn't know what dance class is. She is somewhat familiar with tumble class because they do it at her daycare but there isn't much to it. She says she wants to go to ballerina class but when I ask her if she knows what ballerina class is she says what is it? All she knows is a tutu and wants to wear a tutu! Anyway, my question is how many out there have your kids in one of these type classes at this age or have in the past and did you feel it was a good class at this age or something you should wait on until they are older?

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answers from San Francisco on

At three, they don't learn much, it's just darn cute. I put my daughter in dance class at 3, and we were just watching some videos of her in class a few days ago and it was adorable and hilarious. They had their arms over their heads and were putting their legs out in front of them. Not exactly grueling dance moves. If she wants to wear a tutu, put her in dance. The "tumbling" will probably include things like, a somersault.

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answers from Decatur on

I know I'm against the norm here, but I would do tumbling this year and wait for dance until next year. Really the only benefit you get out of it is that they look cute. Do you really want to spend $42-65 a month on the tuition fees just to have them look cute, or do you want her to actually get something out of it while having fun (like muscle strength, poise, balance, etc). Plus costume fees, tap and ballet shoes, leotards, tights... and they can't remember the routine when it's recital time... it's just a moment for grandma, mom, and dad to ooh and ahh and that's about it. The ballet class we had our daughter in at 4 yrs was an hour, and it was the right amount of time for her attention span but I could not have imagined putting her in a year earlier and expecting her to pay attention to the teacher.

I wholeheartedly agree with the poster who said if you have a Little Gym to take her to that. We started TLG at 2 yrs old - she did that for 2 yrs and loved it, first starting with the easy tumbling class, and then she moved to a tumbling/dance combo class where she did tumbling the first half then they moved to the ballet room. You still get the cuteness factor, but they are still learning something in not such a structured environment. Also one other thing to note, most dance classes do not have a window for you to see in. So you can't watch them dance until recital day anyway. At The Little Gym, the tumbling and dance class have full pane windows - the parents sit in the lobby and watch the whole hour so you can see what your daughter is learning, and they'll have a final week (recital) at the end of each semester, and if I recall, the kids get a medal. Oh and an actual tumbling class at a studio is more than a somersault. At the gym, they had the kids working on bars, rings, high beam, etc, plus learning balance on one leg, cartwheels... I feel it actually helped my daughter in the dance area when she finally moved to that at 4.

Hope that helps.

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answers from Indianapolis on

I was going to suggest you take her to a place and let her watch the class.......but if they have combo classes, that would be the still might go to a few places and watch the classes to get an idea of how they are with the kids..........

Good Luck and I'm sure she'll figure it out soon........and watching her, what do YOU think she does the most, dance around or tumble around?

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answers from Columbus on

When I put my daughter in dance the first year, I put her in a combo class. They did tap, ballet and tumbling. It helped her figure out what she liked best. I think most dance studio's offer combo classes. I think 3 yrs is a good age to start. It's so cute to watch them!


answers from Austin on

I started my daughter at 3 in a ballet/tap class. I had also signed her up for a ballet at her preschool; she liked it, so I enrolled her in the toddlers class at a local dance studio... Oy! That turned out to be so expensive! There was the initial cost for ballet shoes & tap shoes, and tights & leotard. Then after the first 3 classes, the focus shifted to getting the girls (all age 3) ready for the dance recital 4 months away. All the technical instruction stopped (like ballet feet positions, etc) and instead the first part of the class was about trying to get the girls to learn their ballet dance and the second part was about getting them to learn their tap dance. But at age 3, kids can't really memorize dance steps. Then there was the cost of the recital costumes (had to get 2 of them, one for tap and one for ballet), and everyone had to get a particular brand/color of tights for each costume ($12 each). And then there were expectations for the girls to be at the dress rehearsal (on a Friday, had to get off from work) plus the efforts for the actual recital. Honestly, if you choose a dance class, choose one that doesn't put the girls into a spring and winter recital. At their age, they really can't remember choreographed dance routines and the ongoing cost of classes, outgrown shoes, costumes and tights can really rack up! After that class ended, we enrolled her in a gymnastics class. No special shoes, no costumes to buy, and as my husband said, gymnastics is actually a recognized sport. We've definitely seen her upper body & legs acquire more strength (like being able to hold herself up on the baby bars) and balance/coordination improve since starting gymnastics.



answers from Dallas on

Do you have The Little Gym where you are? Our daughter took a combo class there. They did a little tap, a little ballet, and a little bit of gymnastics. It was great!



answers from St. Louis on

in my daycare, I have a two year old attending dance class. She has a very high ability to focus, but just cannot get thru her class. Most nights she ends up in Mommy's arms while Mom dances. I keep reminding Mom that children can focus for about 1 minute per year of age. To expect a 2y.o. to focus thru a 90 minute asking tooooo much!

That said, my vote is for tumbling class! The focus is more on whole-body physical opposed to listening skills & repetitive moves. Buy her a tutu & a dance video for home......& make this choice again when she's older!



answers from Charleston on

As a dance teacher myself, I am a little biased, but if she is interested in wearing a tutu and ballet shoes, let her try it! Age 3 is the perfect age to start looking into extracurricular activities for your child. They usually have enough coordination to enjoy most things like gymnastics, dance, etc...

If you just want her to get a taste of it for the first time, maybe look at your local recreation department for ballet classes for preschoolers. Most of these are 6-8 week courses, and don't require costumes, so you won't have those costs to worry about.

If you take the studio route, do some research first and find one that maybe you can take by semester instead of committing to a full year. That way if she doesn't enjoy it, you're not invested in it until spring. Different studios have different rates/prices, so shop around and get references from other parents. Also ask about their recitals - how much pressure is placed on the 3's to "know" their steps. Some studios are very strict about this (which in my opinion is ridiculous for preschoolers), while others are not, and just want the children to have the thrill of wearing a costume and dancing on "the big stage". I would look for a studio who wants to teach their 3's how to move, work as a group, and follow instructions. This is the foundation of a dancer and 3 year olds can grasp this concept if it is done in a fun and loving manner.

Also, many studios offer creative movement classes for preschool age children which is a taste of dance, but focusing more on coordination and development of skills such as hopping, skipping, etc...

I personally enrolled my daughter at age 3 in a ballet/tap combo class. She loved it (which made me really happy), but the day she decides dance isn't fun anymore, that's fine with me. Let her try a few things to find out what sparks her interest! Good luck and enjoy her while she's little! They grow out of tutu's TOO fast!




answers from Baton Rouge on

When she was four, I took my daughter to see "The Nutcracker," after which she begged me for ballet lessons. I tried to explain to her that when she first started lessons, she would not be dancing like the performers she saw on stage. She wanted them anyway.
Beginning ballet consists of a lot of stretching and posture exrecises and very little actual dancing. She very quickly grew bored with it. Fortunately, the program I had enrolled her in alternated ballet and tap, and tap was enough actual dancing to hold her interest for a while. After that first season, though, she decided to quit. When she was in high school, beginning ballet was offered as an alternative to gym class, and she took it and loved it. Of course, by then, she was mature enough to understand the NEED for all the stretching and posture exercises before actually dancing.



answers from Indianapolis on

Despite my better judgment, my husband wanted to put our daughter into dance classes before her second birthday (this past winter). She loved them despite not really having the concept down.

We're enrolling both kids (4 year-old son and 2 year-old daughter) in gymnastics this fall. I used to teach gymnastics, and we're doing it for several reasons - primarily to teach our daredevil daughter how to control her body when throwing it around recklessly.

More than anything, they learn simple things about moving their bodies, but mostly how to wait for turns, how to pay attention and follow directions.

I taught gymnastics for 4 years, and the parents of younger kids have really lofty goals for their child - realistically, it's play time and learning to recognize a different authority figure than they're accustomed to.

Good luck with your decision.


answers from Dallas on

Our local dance studio only offers tumble to 3 yr olds. They say it's a good precursor to more formal dance class. Because it's good for body awareness, teaches them the rules of class, but is less stiff and regimented. The 3s don't have the attention span for learning dance technique, but they can roll around on the floor and wiggle and giggle. It's like learning to crawl before learning to walk.



answers from New York on

we waited until my daughter was going into kindergarten, she said she wanted to go, decided what classes to take, it was all very grown up. at 4, she would have been fine, 3 seemed a little young though.

at 3, i would put her in the ballet class personally since i think the little girls are so cute, and they like to get dressed up and wear the shoes. then next year or so do a combo of ballet with either tap or acro. that way ballet can be the foundation, and tap if she loves the dancing or acro if she wants to bounce around in the future. i just think the ballet first will help her get in the routine and with balance for any of the others. big difference in maturity of 3 and 4 so next year she will definately be able to articulate her likes better on her own. they may offer combo classes that early, but at 3, i think just one thing to introduce her will be better than throwing a bunch of different things at her.

ETA wanted to add, where we go, each class is 30 minutes. check out your schedule for the combo classes. if you do ballet, acro, and tap, thats 90 mins. thats seems like an awful lot for a 3 year old, but maybe your place does children that age differently.

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