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Level 3 or Level 4 debate update

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Billy

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Well, I think the debate is over. DD is absolutely adamant that she does NOT want to skip level 3 nor change gyms. She doesn't want to miss out on doing the shoot-through on bars and the side handstand dismount on beam (without the twist added in L4; that kind of scares her). She also does not want to keep doing the extra tumbling class, either.

Seeing as how she's only 6, she can't really articulate exactly why she doesn't want to skip up but I think it's just a case of too much, too soon. I think she's intimidated by the idea. So, rather than have her burn out and quit before she's 7, we're going to hang back and let her go at her pace. She's very talented and I'd hate for her to lose her enthusiasm for the sport already.
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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You're a good mom !!! So many parents push their kids thinking they are doing what they think is best instead of just listening to what the kids actually want. She is still very young and you are doing the right thing :)
 

bogwoppit

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Good choice, listening to her will be the best thing you can do for your relationship. She is so very young, that she has plenty of time to get through all the levels if she so desires.

This will also mean that she will have her skills very strongly for the next season, and therefore will have a positive season.

That is what great parenting is, letting them decide between the choices that are made available to them by you.:)
 

mariposa

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I agree that you are an awesome mom for listening and respecting your daughter's opinion. I think that it will only help her. To build on the skills and actually compete them. I really wish we had similar programs for the lower levels here.
 
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Billy

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Thanks for the support everyone. I've really been struggling with this because I want so much for her. But it has to be her that wants it, not me. And, if she truly wants to go all the way with her gymnastics, she can skip quickly through some of the higher levels when she's older.
 
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Megley

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Shawn, I think you are absolutely right to listen to her and abide by her decision. She has to be the one who wants to move up and as hard as it is (because I know how you feel about wanting so much for her) you made the right decision. I am sure she will thrive at Level 3 and the extra competition experience and time spent learning the Level 4 skills will set her up for an extremely successful Level 4 season. I look forward to hearing more about her progress.

Meg
 
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Billy

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I actually had the opportunity to speak with her current head coach last night. I told her that we had considered skipping her up to level 4. She said "yeah, I thought about that too." But, she went on to say that with her skills being inconsistent, she probably would not be scoring 9s and 36-37 AA if she moves ahead. If she stays at level 3, she'll most likely stay at the top of the heap. Further, she does have a "plan" for DD. She will have her do L3 this year, L4 next and then the following fall do L5. Apparently they can do L4/L5 in one calendar year and then do L6/ L7 the next year, which will help her advance quickly once she's a bit older. All this made me feel better because now I know that the coach is paying attention to my daughter and considering the best path for her. Between DD's wishes and this conversation with the coach, I'm perfectly happy staying where we are.
 
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Billy

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Ah.... how things can change... and so quickly, too! After all the debate and back and forth over level 3 or level 4, DD is skipping up to level 4 after all. It turns out that the only reason she wanted to do level 3 was because she didn't want to leave her teammates. Once she figured out that her team would not stay the same next season and that some of her friends wouldn't be moving up anyway, she said she wants to do level 4 after all.

So, I spoke with her coach and explained the situation to her. And she said that she wasn't considering DD for level 4 anymore and she'd have to do the year of level 3. I discussed this with DD and she opted to try a different gym in order to advance.

So, we've taken her to try practices at two different gyms. The first one, a gym I found, she didn't like at all. She said the coach was "bossy". (I told her coaches are sometimes like that. LOL) And honestly, I didn't really like it either. There wasn't really anywhere for parents to sit and watch the practices and it was over an hour's drive away so just dropping her off wasn't an option. And she didn't like the long drive, either.

The second gym, one of her choosing, was absolutely wonderful. Very nice gym and facilities, gymnast-friendly and parent-friendly. DD liked the other girls, liked the coaches and begged to get to go to their "spring break camp" next month. The first thing she said when we were leaving was "I want to go here." I spoke with the team director after practice and she had good things to say. She thinks DD will be ready to train level 4 (she can't start until May so she can finish out the season at her current gym). She wants her to come to one more practice just to be sure of this placement as some kids tend to put their best foot forward for an evaluation practice and then the coaches find out they don't really try that hard all the time, but she expects that this will be perfect. She said DD is a fast learner and has really good form, which is one of the key things they look for.

I also liked their philosophy for advancement. They move the girls up when the girls are ready, regardless of competition season. They are also flexible on practices (DD has church on Wednesdays and would really hate to have to quit that). The L4 team practices on Wednesdays but the director said if DD is ready by the fall, she might be able to trade her Wednesday practice for one practice with the L5 team each week.

All in all, this gym was a very nice facility with good, kid-friendly coaches, and successful teams. I'm excited for DD. I think this is going to be a perfect fit. And the best thing, trying out these other gyms and seeing girls at higher levels has given DD a renewed enthusiasm. She's been practicing at home a lot more and having fun doing it. And now she's got a lot to look forward to.
 

bogwoppit

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Well it sounds as though it has all come together at the right time for your DD. Being in a club where the programme is more individualised is a good thing.
 
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Billy

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Well it sounds as though it has all come together at the right time for your DD. Being in a club where the programme is more individualised is a good thing.
That is a big problem with her current gym. When I approached the coach about DD's change of heart, the coach told me that she "has to consider the whole team; I can't think about just one girl". I understand that she's got a lot of gymnasts to place/ consider but, as much as the team is important, gymnastics is a very individualized sport. She may have to think about the team, but I have to think about my daughter.
 

bogwoppit

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Another thought to ponder for all gym parents is, we are not talking about public school here. We are actually paying consumers, we are "buying" a product that we feel will have the most benefit for our child. Think of it like a private school, if a parent was unhappy with the curriculum would they put up with it, no, not unless there were absolutely no other choices.

As long as parents are prepared to pay for a "one size fits all" programme they will continue to run it. I imagine your gym does not have many young gymnasts in the optional levels, there is just no way to get there.

Considering levels 1-4 in USAG are voluntary, as in you do not have to compete them before you compete level five, it does not make much sense to have the girls do each level in order for multiple years.

Children are individuals and they will not progress as the same rates, the reason that levels are divided up into age groups at competitions is not because some kids started later (though I am sure this is true to a degree) it is because some kids just pick things up quicker, or slower!

I did have one thought before you posted your final decision. That was if your daughter did not want to move up to level four this year, that you no longer allow her to practice level4/5 skills at home, and only practice her level 3 skills, I think she would've very quickly grown bored of her range of skills and asked for the challenge of level 4/5. But now that is not such an issue is it?
 
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Billy

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I did have one thought before you posted your final decision. That was if your daughter did not want to move up to level four this year, that you no longer allow her to practice level4/5 skills at home, and only practice her level 3 skills, I think she would've very quickly grown bored of her range of skills and asked for the challenge of level 4/5. But now that is not such an issue is it?
LOL.... boy THAT would have been quite a punishment. :p I think she was just looking for the wrong motivation (social rather than skills) for moving up. Checking out these other gyms/ programs has really opened her eyes to the possibilities, I think (as much as a 6-year-old can).
 

lannamavity

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I also liked their philosophy for advancement. They move the girls up when the girls are ready, regardless of competition season.


HUH? You may want to look a little deeper into that. It sounds weird...a little chaotic.
 
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Billy

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I'm not sure what you mean by chaotic. What happens at our current gym is that the girls are evaluated and placed in April/ May for the coming season (which runs from January through April). This means that a girl is placed in, say, level 3 in April and she stays in level 3 until the next April, even if she could easily move up to level 4 by October. In contrast, at the new gym, if a girl is ready to move up in October, they move her up and just do extra practices to make sure she knows the routines in time for meets. Does that make more sense?
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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I also liked their philosophy for advancement. They move the girls up when the girls are ready, regardless of competition season.


HUH? You may want to look a little deeper into that. It sounds weird...a little chaotic.

Actually my dd's gym does that as well. Keep in mind it only happens rarely - it's not like all the girls are all over the place all season - but if there is a girl who is really excelling and obviously ready to move up she can. One of the things I love about my dd's gym is that they treat them as individuals.

Good luck to your little one Shawn - I'm sure she will do great.
 
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Megley

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Shawn, it sounds like a great move for your DD. It's definitely nice that they assess the girls individually. We don't have a lot of mid-season level hopping, but it does occasionally happen. I am sure that your dd will thrive at this new gym.

Meg
 
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Billy

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Thanks, Meg. I certainly hope so. We've been struggling with this long enough. I was really impressed but more importantly, my daughter liked it. I don't anticipate her skipping any more levels any time soon but it is nice to know that they will watch her and move her when it does become appropriate.
 

lannamavity

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Sep 13, 2007
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way out West
Actually my dd's gym does that as well. Keep in mind it only happens rarely - it's not like all the girls are all over the place all season - but if there is a girl who is really excelling and obviously ready to move up she can. One of the things I love about my dd's gym is that they treat them as individuals.

Good luck to your little one Shawn - I'm sure she will do great.
If it happens "rarely" then is it really a selling point?

Any gym which moves kids without move up requirements and dates sets the kids/parents up for resentment. Gymnastics is inherently an "individual" sport, but that doesn't mean that the processes in the gym should be unfair between individuals.

Just speaking from experience.

I'm not saying it's a bad move...but I will say that there are many coaches out there who will say whatever it takes to get a kid into a gym, while coaches who adhere to their own rules in the name of being fair are not necessarily crushing the individuality of any gymnast. Talented athletes are not always "victims of the system", though it has become a knee-jerk response to a coach saying "no." Expectations and fair procedures protect the individual as well as the group.

The fact that your daughter is happy and comfortable is what's most important.
 
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Billy

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I've done a lot of research on gyms in our area and I know enough to not fall for some party line from a coach just to get our money. This gym has not only successful team programs but also does classes, preschool groups, boys classes and teams, homeschool classes, and camps. It is a full-time business and I don't think they are desperate for team gymnasts.

Also, I watch every practice and supervise all of DD's at-home practice. I watched her evaluation both at this gym and at another gym in our area. I watched the full 3 hours of practice at both gyms. I paid attention to what the coaches did for warm ups, stretches, the skills they worked on and how they spotted the girls. I watched how my DD interacted with the other girls, how well she did or didn't do the skills they were learning and whether or not she seemed happy both during the practice and after. I agreed with what the coach had to say and where they think my daughter will fit. I am not going into this blindly.

As for the "rules" of mobility, I have to disagree with the hard fast rule of "nobody moves up until next Spring". That does not seem fair to a girl who is clearly ready to move up before then. Why hold back a girl who's ready to advance just because it's not "time" yet? That doesn't make sense to me. This gym is very flexible with making things work for the gymnasts. For example, if a girl is ready to move up but it is close to or during meet season, they will do private lessons (if there's time) to help her get the routines for the new level. Or, they'll have her practice with the higher level while competing the lower level. They try to place and move each gymnast according to her individual needs, not the calendar. This is not a selling point. This is paying attention to the needs and progress of each and every girl as individuals and not just as parts of the whole.
 
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