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Elementary school dances: yuck or yay?

Categories: Push my Button


I am one of the lucky moms. My daughter talks to me. Every Friday, or over the weekend if it’s a school holiday or she has a sleepover or something, my 5th grader phones me and we spend at least an hour talking about the things that happened in her week, my news, and the things she thinks about and worries about. I love that she shares so much with me, and I love our sense of connection despite the 3000 miles between us. I know her friends’ names and personalities, their little peccadillos. I know what she loses sleep over. I know what her dreams are.

Two weeks ago, we missed our Friday talk because of the school dance. For 4th and 5th graders. What the — ? And also: ┬áthe hell?

I walked to school through six feet of snow, uphill both ways, back when I was a kid, and golly gee whillikers, looking back I see that 7th grade seemed a mite young for lovin’ and touchin’ each other. I had no idea then what to do with the feeling that I should be doing SOMEthing. So what makes us think that 5th grade girls — these are eleven year olds, most of them — know any better than I did at twelve? (For those doing the math, I skipped a grade. Had puberty a year after everyone else. Oh yay.)

True, my daughter neither dressed up much for this dance (”it was so hot in there, I wished I wore a tank top and shorts”) or, apparently, actually interacted with BOYZ during the event. I think they did the limbo. And there was food. But what message are we sending our daughters when we send them off to act like mini adults?

I don’t even want to talk about the number of my kid’s classmates who have boyfriends. She has been saying since she was seven that she will never get married so I extrapolate that she intends to remain celibate indefinitely, which at eleven is fine by me. Let’s talk again in five years. But for those other kids? What does having a boyfriend actually mean? And if it means as little as I suspect it does, what’s the point? Why are we rushing things?

School dances in elementary school: yea or nay?

[photo: Divine in the Daily]

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4 comments so far...

  • I’m not a fan. Seems like they spend enough time at school. When I was a kid, the last thing I wanted to do was go back there to spend my personal time. Of course, when I was in 5th grade, most of us had plenty of siblings and neighbor kids around to be social with outside of school, and it was considered safe to go hang out without adults arranging our social life. In that respect, things have changed.

    I would assume this “dance” wasn’t about boys/girls as much as just getting together and enjoying some music and junk food. Maybe the name of the event was poorly chosen.

    SKL  |  February 23rd, 2011 at 10:28 am

  • I suspect you’re right about that, SKL, that the event may have been less about boys and girls than I fear. But still. Unnecessary and possibly sending a message that’s premature.

    Talyaa Liera  |  February 23rd, 2011 at 3:24 pm

  • 5th grade was middle school for me, and I think there was a dance that year. I seem to remember spending most of it at one end of the cafeteria, either standing against a wall with all the other girls or dancing in a circle with all the other girls. Talk to a boy? Yeah, sure. Dance with one? Why? :)

    Lylah  |  February 24th, 2011 at 10:41 pm

  • I’m an elem music teacher and I have to say, we do this in my district. But here’s the thing: these are not Dances, with a capital “D”. It’s my suspicion that we as adult might read into these things with our more mature attitudes a-blazin’, and jump to conclusions. When we have a “dance” in my building, we do it as a reward, or a fundraiser event. We even teach the kids various group dances (Electric Slide, Macarena, Cotton-Eye Joe, and the dreaded Chicken Dance, for starters) that the whole group knows and can dance to. We play them, interspersed with appropriate FAST pop songs. We play “Freeze” dance with them, we play Limbo with them, and we generally repeat the group dance songs a few times, too. It’s a little more structured than the dances we went to as 12 + year olds, and there are no, I mean NO slow songs. They’re there to dance, not “Dance”.
    Because that’s just crazy.
    Come on.
    They’re 10.
    I have to say these are fun events, the majority of the kids dance the whole time and leave sweaty, tired, and elated.
    So to sum up, this dance could have really been what is fun and age-appropriate for your daughter: one giant, school-sponsored aerobics class.

    Meg  |  February 25th, 2011 at 1:10 pm