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Team at 5 1/2?

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mariposa

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Last week and this week, DDs coach talked to me and they want to move her to team soon ( asked if she meant pre-team and she said no). I guess they do compete level 4s at 6 at this gym (her old gym doesn't even compete level 4, they start at level 5 at age 7). The level 4s practice 12 hours a week.

I am torn. DD loves gymnastics and is good at it, but it just seems so young. She would be thrilled to be in the gym so much, but it seems like a lot to me.

The cost to start up isn't that bad, booster fees, warm ups and leo. The monthly fees are pretty reasonable in my opinion. $205 per month. We pay $110 per month for 3 hours a week right now.

I guess we will have to try it when they decide to move her, because I can't hold her back from something she loves. I have kind of talked to her about it, told her that it will be much more work, that her coach will be different and she is fine with that. But until she has done it, she really doesn't know.

Any input from other mamas who have been there, done that with little ones? I guess I was just caught off guard because I thought she would be in her developmental class until 6, then go to pre-team, then maybe eventually to team someday. I didn't expect her to be asked to move to team so little.

Thanks!
 
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laurameer

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Sounds like you have a talented daughter on your hands! I know what you're going through with this decision. My DD is 6 and has been on team L4 for 2 1/2 mos now. Our team only does 9 hrs/wk. Our daughters sound very simialr, love to be in the gym, practice at home constantly, travel by roundoff instead of walking :D.

You just have to know your kid, and watch very closely. Be prepared for sore muscles (lots more conditioning), it's hard for a 6 yr old to know the difference between sore and hurt. Ask lots of questions. DD is very tired and very hungry after practice, I have to be ready for crankiness and respond with understanding. I also watch at least half of each practice. I feel she's too young to be left there for so long alone and it keeps me aware of what she's doing and her emotions/attitude/behavior.

Just keep an open mind that it may be too much. There's nothing wrong with trying team and if it's not working move her back to a less intense class for awhile. We have to remember they're only 5/6!! They have lots of time. Let us know how it goes.
 

gym law mom

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You don't have to do anything. This seems like a rather odd time to move a child to team since most teams have been set for awhile and are either competing or getting ready to compete. You're right that your dd can't compete in a USAG meet until her 6th birthday which would be sometime in the spring? By then most compulsory meets are over for the year.

Is she working on all of her L4 skills in her current class? What would the plan be if she moved to team? The girls who are competing will be spending alot of their practices running through routines for the next meet and possibly working on L5 skills. Would a coach be working with your dd on her L4 skills and routines? Would hate to see her get lost in the shuffle. It is a big jump to go from 3 hours/week to 12. Is there any other group(such as a pre-team) that she could move up to that would help with the transition to more practice time, but not the big jump to team practice?

I'm sure she is excited(as are you) and thats absolutely fantastic. That is something as the parent of an 11 yo that we still like to see in them----that love to do the sport, learn more skills etc. My big concern about putting such a young one on a team(when she can't compete) is she may be thrown in the deep end and have a bad experience and not want to continue. Take her and watch a L4 team practice and then go to one by yourself and really consider if she is ready for it. If she isn't ready now or it doesn't feel right, I'm sure she'll be ready come spring.
 

mariposa

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Sounds like you have a talented daughter on your hands! I know what you're going through with this decision. My DD is 6 and has been on team L4 for 2 1/2 mos now. Our team only does 9 hrs/wk. Our daughters sound very simialr, love to be in the gym, practice at home constantly, travel by roundoff instead of walking :D.

You just have to know your kid, and watch very closely. Be prepared for sore muscles (lots more conditioning), it's hard for a 6 yr old to know the difference between sore and hurt. Ask lots of questions. DD is very tired and very hungry after practice, I have to be ready for crankiness and respond with understanding. I also watch at least half of each practice. I feel she's too young to be left there for so long alone and it keeps me aware of what she's doing and her emotions/attitude/behavior.

Just keep an open mind that it may be too much. There's nothing wrong with trying team and if it's not working move her back to a less intense class for awhile. We have to remember they're only 5/6!! They have lots of time. Let us know how it goes.
I definitely worry about it being too much, but then again, she loves it so much. I won't hesitate to pull her out if I think she isn't doing well emotionally/physically and she knows that if she ever wants to stop, that all she has to do is say so. :D I can't say I would be sad if she wanted to do something else, especially something safer. ;)

You don't have to do anything. This seems like a rather odd time to move a child to team since most teams have been set for awhile and are either competing or getting ready to compete. You're right that your dd can't compete in a USAG meet until her 6th birthday which would be sometime in the spring? By then most compulsory meets are over for the year.

Is she working on all of her L4 skills in her current class? What would the plan be if she moved to team? The girls who are competing will be spending alot of their practices running through routines for the next meet and possibly working on L5 skills. Would a coach be working with your dd on her L4 skills and routines? Would hate to see her get lost in the shuffle. It is a big jump to go from 3 hours/week to 12. Is there any other group(such as a pre-team) that she could move up to that would help with the transition to more practice time, but not the big jump to team practice?

I'm sure she is excited(as are you) and thats absolutely fantastic. That is something as the parent of an 11 yo that we still like to see in them----that love to do the sport, learn more skills etc. My big concern about putting such a young one on a team(when she can't compete) is she may be thrown in the deep end and have a bad experience and not want to continue. Take her and watch a L4 team practice and then go to one by yourself and really consider if she is ready for it. If she isn't ready now or it doesn't feel right, I'm sure she'll be ready come spring.
Oh, she won't be moving until summer. I am just freaking out about it already. :eek: I am one of those worrywort mamas.

She has some of the L4 skills and they work on those in her class each week.

I did ask her specifically if she meant pre-team and she said no. I thought she would go to pre-team first, but she said that she won't. The pre-team girls practice 1 hour more a week than her current class. I am not sure who is in the pre-team class.

They are working on L4 skills in the developmental class she is in right now.

DD turns 6 in July. I guess by summer she will be almost 6. I should change the title, but I can't. LOL. I think I miscalculated in my head.

Thanks guys. She really just seems so little to me. Probably because I am her mama. And because she is so tiny physically (35lbs). She is my baby. :D Can't she stop growing up so fast and doing things that scare her mama?
 

fruitcake

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My dd joined team at the beginning of this summer-she was not quite 6 at the time. I too was a little concerned about the age--I knew she had the ability but boy did she seem young. She still seems young and being small for her ages, looks tiny next to the other girls. She however loves it! We can't get her to stop doing routines and skills around the house. I am sure your dd will be fine also and like you said you can always pull her if you think it is not working.
 

Ingymmom

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Jul 12, 2007
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Hi mariposamama,

Sounds like your little one is quite a talent :D

I also have a little one that joined team young. I went through the concern issues, and understand your dilemma. A joined team this past June as a 5 yr old, then turned 6 in Sep. Our gym does not compete L4, they start at L5 similar to your previous gym, so she is technically considered a L5 but can not compete until she turns 7 next year - but she is still treated the same as everyone else and coaches have the same expectation of her as they would any other girl (except that she is allowed to train less - totally different topic LOL). Prior to team she was in what our gym calls a pre-team class where they went from training 6 hours a week to 8 hours. I struggled with those hours at the time because she had just turned 5 and was only in a rec class one hour a week initially, but I have to say she loved every second of it.... when the coaches said it was time for Team & she would train 15 hours a week I was concerned yet again - from 8 to 15 seemed too big a jump - but again it worked out very well for her. We did not hesitate to miss a day here or there for a party, or "just because". Now that school has started (she is in half day kindergarten) she is still in the gym about 16 hours a week and still thoroughly enjoying her gym time. We still take it one month at a time and we STILL take off whenever I think its time. I would never want her to feel like gym is a job... To this day she absolutely still considers the gym her playground:p.

So some gymmies can start a little younger - each child is different, & it is just important to monitor & respond appropriately to your little one, but it absolutely can be a great thing - gym does not get too scary until much later LOL. L4 & 5 especially should just be a really great time. (gym should ALWAYS be a fun great time, but I emphasize those especially because the skills are easier and there is a lot less pressure then higher levels).

That said the only concern I felt when reading your post was the the major jump in hours from 3 to 12. Is there some reason why they won't put your dd on pre-team now and at least add another hour? It would make the most sense rather then going straight from developmental to team. If not since you have so long to wait for team ( I say long, but it will be here in a blink ;)) , I would try to find some way to gradually increase gym time... We have a new pre-team in our gym and this year they decided to make it a 10 hour a week (2 hours a day, 5 x's a week). I can not tell you what a shock it was for some very talented girls to go from 1-3 hrs a week all the way to 10 - MANY dropped out initially. Some did return and worked up to the required schedule which did help, but it took some time (a few months).

I am curious how does your gym break down their hours? How many days does the team train their 12 hours?
 
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Blackie6

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Hi,
Mom of young gymmie adding 2 cents, LOL!
I was where you are last year about the same time. My dd was not even 6 yet and had only been on pre-team (4 hrs a week) about 7 mths when invited onto the team. L4 Team trainned 10 hrs at the time (now trains 10 1/2 to 11) and I had no idea what to do with her. In my head I kept saying what kid at this age would want to be here for that many hours... it's crazy! What mother would allow her daughter to do this kind of intense training at such a young age? What other sport for kids would expect that level of committment from kids and parents? I kept going into the office to speak with a great staff member who reassured me that they were not holding any girls prisoner, LOL, they all loved being there and would be there longer if they were allowed. I considered JOGA too, which was less hours, is very BIG here in NJ and she could compete starting age 7. I was told to just give USAG a try and see if she liked it, we could always move to JOGA, but it was easier to start USAG first because of the way skills are taught. Because of her maturity, I did hold her on pre-team until her 6th B-Day and she went from the 4 hrs to 10.5 without any hesitations. She loves it! She does do other activities (CCD, Brownies, Dive team, T-Ball) which we take her out of practice occasionally, but now that we are in the middle of meet season we don't miss anything. She is the youngest on her team now, has done 3 meets so far and still loves it. I have to yell at her to get her out of the gym when practice ends, she loves it that much.

My best advice is just let her try. I am sure if the hours are of a concern you can speak with the coach & work up to it. I thought I would have to do that with my dd, but knowing that her friends were all in there and she might miss something she would not leave the gym. Do I still think she is goofy and imature, yup, but that is what I love about her, she is always smiling when she leaves there. There will be plenty of time to be more serious, like some of the older teamates, but for now at this age I think it's great that they enjoy the excercise & experience in the gym.

Hope this helps!
 
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nettyinpa

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I can also say been there, done that. My dd was moved into the Developmental class at age 4, almost 5. They practiced 9 hours a week over the summer. Like a lot of other girls here, she loves it. Doesn't mind the extra time. Since she wouldn't make the move until next summer, let her try it. They can always move her back down. My dd is now 6 and trains 12 hours a week. It is a lot more work, expecially with the conditioning part of it. But, again, she really enjoys it and never complains. She's looking forward to her first meet in December.

Good luck to you and dd!:)
 

mariposa

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Thanks everyone. So glad to see that others have been in similar positions. I am almost positive that DD won't mind at all, she asks everyday if it is gymnastics and comes home after practice only to practice more "because she is all stretchy and warmed up." LOL. I do think she will be surprised to possibly actually have pain. That will be new for her.

I definitely think that she may need to work up to the 12 hours and I will bring it up with them when it actually happens. I shouldn't even be worried about it because it is so far away. I just always freak out intitially when something worries me, then I get info, step back and calm down. LOL.

I am wondering how they break down 12 hours as well. I was wondering if maybe she meant 9 hours a week. She has 3 girls, all on team, maybe she mixed up one of their schedules with her level 4 girl. That would seem more doable.

I also think they must see something I don't see. Not that I don't absolutely think my DD is awesome, she amazes me, but she isn't as well behaved as some of the other girls, for example, she can't wait in line for her turn, will be off doing handstands or cartwheels, or playing on a mat, etc. I have kept waiting for them to say something to her, or me for that matter, and whenever her coach has wanted to talk to me, it has been for good things. Go figure. I wouldn't say she is super talented, but she works hard and really tries. Some things do click with her and skillwise she is doing good, but she could use some grace. :D And straighter legs. I think those things come with age and practice though and of course naturally for some.
 

gymbratsmom

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Sep 2, 2007
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I have been there too. My dd was 5 when she started team. She did some level 4 fun meets at 5 years old. She loved every min. of it. She did two years of level 4 because she was not old enough to do level 5. When she turned 7 she became a level 5. She placed third in the AA at the state meet.

This year she is 8 and a level 6. She is the youngest in her group and the next oldest is her sister who is 10. Almost everyone else is 12. She is doing great this year and still loves gymnastics. She keeps up with all the older girls and fits in with all of them.

If I had the chance I would do it all over again. She still loves gymnastics and wants to do more. I would try it and see what happens. I'm sure you could always move her down if it doesn't work out.
 

mariposa

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thanks everyone! i know she will be so thrilled to be in the gym so many hours. i won't, because i will miss her. we are never away from each other that much. (we homeschool) and i can't be there the whole time because by then, i will be chasing a crazy 2 year old. i think we will stay at first, since she might want us to, then go from there. i can't imagine my little one wanting to hang out there for 3 hours or whatever a pop. she already has a hard time with 1 1/2 hour practices. LOL.

i trust her coach. i am sure she knows what kind of kid my DD is and i know they don't just move kids if they aren't ready because there are 6 and 7 yos in her developmental class. she would definitely know whether she is ready better than i would as she is a totally different kid when at gymnastics. i wish she would try HALF as hard at her school work as she does learning gymnastic skills. LOL.
 
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bpatient

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Before you commit your daughter at such a young age to the training hours associated with team membership, you might reflect on what you and she can hope to gain from that arrangement. We parents are undoubtedly pleased whenever someone suggests that our kids have some--any--sort of talent, but what benefit do you expect your child to derive from devoting to gymnastics those long hours that could otherwise be devoted to, say, playing, reading, music, her studies, or developing any of her other talents that might be undiscovered at age five?

When you discuss this subject with parents at your gym or on a gymnastics board like this, it’s rather like asking members of a church (or a cult!) that you've just joined if you've made the right decision: few people excepting the true believers are available to join the conversation. When someone like gymbratsmom offers her heartfelt endorsement that she'd “do it all over again", you may wonder if the parents of all those girls who leave the sport within a few years would tell you the same thing--but they're not here to respond to your question. (USA Gymnastics membership figures suggest that about half of the girls who join teams quit before Level 6.)

I can offer a slightly contrarian view. From my perspective, here are a few points that support the idea of a girl joining a gymnastics team at a young age:

Parental support and the child's enthusiasm may be far and away the most important ingredients in this mix. Anders Ericsson, the leading psychologist in the field of expert performance, has repeatedly indicated that what you and I (and your daughter’s coaches) might call "talent" is vastly overrated: It's all about the kid loving what she's doing to the extent that she'll put in the necessary effort despite the hardship, along with her parents willingness to provide the necessary emotional and financial support.

Part of that mix could be seeing your daughter accomplish at a young age what older girls may just be learning. It wouldn’t really matter if, in fact, all the girls take roughly the same number of years to reach a given skill level regardless of the age at which they begin training (or if they will all end up in the same place) if that perceived age advantage provided enough of an emotional boost to keep you and your daughter happy in the sport.

Otherwise, it might be helpful to start her off early if you think that your family is willing to make the sacrifices that would allow your daughter to become an elite athlete. Similarly, if you hope that your daughter will compete for a college scholarship in gymnastics, it might be helpful to have her reach a high skill level by her sophomore year in high school.

However, here are a few points that argue against committing to relatively long training hours at a young age:

In gymnastics, unlike in the well-studied areas of expert performance such as music or chess, the long years of dedicated practice that are required to develop expertise can be ended by capricious injury. For example, if your daughter devotes 12 to 25 hours each week to the piano throughout her childhood she'll likely still be playing beautifully 70 years from now, but if she chooses to devote all those hours to gymnastics she'll still probably quit the sport before she finishes high school and it’s a good bet that she’ll never do a back tuck on a balance beam once she leaves college—and injury could drive her from the sport years earlier. (There are about nine Level 5 girls for each Level 10 athlete; perhaps injury has a lot to do with that.)

While it seems that the combination of her apparent love for the sport and your willingness to support her efforts argues for her success, it's nonetheless obvious that she isn't yet even dimly aware of myriad other activities that she might love and that you might just as enthusiastically support. (At your daughter's age, my kid couldn't decide between becoming a veterinarian or a paleontologist; it turns out there may be other fields that are just as interesting, and almost all of them are still unknown to her.)

According to http://www.collegegymnast.com/ about 3% of high school-age gymnasts go on to compete in college; perhaps fencing (79% of high school fencers compete in college) might be a better bet if a scholarship should become a goal.

I didn't see any real advantage to moving my child to a team at a young age. I happened to choose to keep my daughter in a cheerily low-pressure pre-team class for a couple of years beyond when she might have competed. There may be many ways that parents can help their little gymnasts to find their balance; I try to help mine by limiting her training time to fewer hours than most of the girls at her level devote to practice, both by choosing a gym with a relaxed and flexible schedule and by having her skip some of the practices that are available to her there. (She uses most of those saved hours for extra work to develop the math and writing skills that she'll need to succeed as an adult.) We have no interest in an elite track, and little interest in a gymnastics scholarship; I doubt, anyway, that the opportunity to compete as a Level 10 for six years instead of four or five years before she graduates from high school would matter much. We're not trying to produce a gymnast; we just want her to become a healthy and happy adult, and so far it seems that keeping her contentedly involved in the sport at a level that we hope will reduce the probability of burnout and injury is a reasonable part of our effort to reach that goal. It would be different if we prioritized gymnastics, but--although she loves gymnastics just as much as your daughter loves it--the sport is just part of my daughter's life, and we realize that in the long term it will be far from the most important part. This works for me, but your child is undoubtedly different than my child, and YMMV.
 

bogwoppit

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RBW, that is an epistle that all gym parents should read. Perhaps the MODs could place it in the articles section, the statistics alone are enlightening.
 

gym mom

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I personnally believe 12hrs is an awful lot for a 5 or 6 year old mentally and physically .my dd was 6 1/2 when she started team 2 was 4 hrs wk and I was worried she could not handle it she is team 3 age 7 this season still only 4hrs wk .she still has plenty of time to play with friends ,take horse lessons and girl scouts and just be a kid.I am not looking forward to level 4 which I hope they wait till May to move her up she will be 8 and she can have the summer to get used to it .Good luck with you dd
 

mariposa

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RBW,

thanks for your very informative and well written post. you brought up many of my concerns. it it such a hard decision to be confronted with. many things concern me, but i also know that i am not afraid of pulling her out of something that begins to be a danger for her or finding somewhere else that would be less stressful, etc.

i don't think my daughter will ever be an elite gymnast, don't even want to offer that route. i also don't think that she will do gymnastics until college. she could surprise me, but i have never thought of gymnastics as a way to college scholarships for her. she might do it for a year or 2 and be done or go as far as she wants to and then go from there. who knows?

it is something she loves right now and that she talks about all the time. she practices almost as many hours here at home in her room and on my king size bed as she will on team eventually, except that she doesn't get any help with proper technique and has no bars here. i know that physically it is totally different stress on her body, but she loves gymnastics and i can't convince her to do anything else right now. she has tried many kinds of dance (ballet, tap and hip-hop)and hapkido (korean martial arts). she plays soccer, baseball and tennis with the neighborhood kids and i can't interest her in joining any of those kinds of classes or team.

she asked to take gymnastics after seeing it somewhere and has never looked back. she has a spark there that i don't see in her anywhere else. i think that finding something a child loves to do is important and sometimes they find it young, sometimes they don't. she will be able to "retire" from the sport of gymnastics when she decides she is done and wants to do something else.

i don't worry about gymnastics hindering my daughter's education, time with her family, time with her friends etc, because for us it isn't an issue. we homeschool and she has tons of other things we do and time to do them. we are involved with an awesome homeschool group where we meet everyweek. she is in girlscouts and we do lots of fun things (field trips, etc) during the day. i definitely would not be even considering letting her train so much if we didn't homeschool simply because i couldn't imagine being gone from her so many hours a day.

again, thanks for your post. it definitely should be sticky'd somewhere.
 

melmonette

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Aug 16, 2007
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See I think our gym doesn't believe in overtraining.
Our level 4s are only in the gym 2 nights a week for 2 hours.
My daughter is called a level 4* (an intermin group who didn't qualify to move to 5 but we work our level 5 skills all year) and we go 3 days a week for 2 hours a night.
Our level 5's are required to go 3 nights a week for 2.5 hours but they have an optional 4th day for 2.5 hours.
Level 6's are only required 3 nights a week but I think for 3 hours and they still have the optional 4th day but it is not required.
Level's 7-10 are 4 hours a day 5 days a week and all of that is required.
Our teams do extrememly well even with less time in the gym. They always place in all meets including major national meets.
 

bogwoppit

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Melmonette, your gym sounds like ours, our level 3/4's so 4.5 hours a week over two nights and our highest level girsl level 7/8 do 11 hours at the most. It seems to be enough hours, our girls win at meets and do gain skills. Our girls also have a month off at xmas and from June 10 to Aug 28 th each summer.

I don't think I could commit to more based on where we live, plus I also love having the summer undisturbed by scheduled activities.
 

mariposa

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wow. i wish our gym was more like that. i could call around, but the only other gym near us is the one we left. i have nothing against that gym at all, loved it there, but the gym floor itself isn't air conditioned (and we live where it is HOT) which makes me question where all the money goes? it is a big, popular gym and i pay now for 3 hours/week what i would have been paying for 2 hours a week there.

also, my DDs very close friend goes there and she is an extremely talented (naturally)and is one year younger that DD. everyone just loves her and my DD was practically invisible. you kind of have to "know" people to move up there. my DD was finally moved up right when we were leaving, but she had been ready for a long time. it really hurt my DD to see her friend be moved before her, to see her get all the attention, etc. i know that there are always probably gym favorites, but this is her really close friend who we see all the time at various things and it was hard for her.

it actually came down to my DD going to the developmental at both places and then choosing where she like it better. she chose where she is now, so i think we are staying for now. i might call around and just ask how many hours average the level 4s practice at some other gyms, to see what it is in our area.

it is so weird that it varies so much from gym to gym. you would think with USAG regulating so much, routines, skills, etc, that they could make some recommendations about hours per level. i know that it always makes a big difference because there are so many ages in any given level. 12 hours for an older child might not seem as much.
 

melmonette

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Aug 16, 2007
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I find it odd that it varies so much too especially at the lower levels such as 4 or 5. See I am lucky in that we have like 5 gyms within 10 minutes of my house that I could switch my daughter too.
We are having issues with having too many girls and not enough coaches at my gym so Emily and one of my other friend's and her friend are probably switching gyms right after the State meet this year. Don't ask but half of it is because I think my daughter should be a level 5 this year and half is because we have 2 of the major coaches are pregnant and one just had a baby and well they do 90% of the work and since they are pregnant and one just had a baby the other coaches get bounced around and well.... lets just say they don't have enough staff for the number of girls they have to coach and don't seem to be actively trying to get more trained qualified team coaches so we are not happy in that respect but at the same time, the girls all are like best friends and I hate breaking that up too.
But that is a totally different topic, ugh....sorry to vent.
I think you should give it a go and see how it goes, I don't think my 5 year old could do it right now though and she just got moved up to our gym's first miniteam and they only go 2 days a week for 1 hour a day any more and I think it would be too much for her.
 

mariposa

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well, i called her old gym and the level 4s practice 10 hours a week. i don't think i would switch back to them because of 2 hours because of the reasons previously stated. if they only practiced 6 hours, then i might consider it, but i do like her current gym a lot.

i need to just chill and wait. it is not until summer that they want to move her anyway. who knows what will happen between now and then.
 
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