Exams and watching week

It's a big day tomorrow: P's grade one exam. Four of of them will be going in at the same time and she is the youngest, only just approaching seven years old. On the whole they are looking good and they've been working hard, but there are wobbles from time to time - setting off on the wrong foot, or turning to the right instead of the left, forgetting their posture.

I just hope they can do their best and perform when in the exam. One girl is very anxious. Her face is so sweet and so serious as she concentrates on getting it right. She gets upset if she makes a mistake. The others seem to be taking it in their stride. I asked P how she felt after today's practice and she said she was jealous of how well the other girls are dancing; she feels she is not as good. You feel for them when they get caught up in what everyone else is doing and compare themselves unfavourably. There is an air of competitiveness from time to time.

The results could be stressful. Fortunately P was not too disappointed with her Merit and silver medal when she did her primary exam. Indeed it was a good result, but she was near the bottom of the class despite her potential and perhaps didn't do herself justice. This year she will be far more aware of how the others do and if nerves get the better of her it will end in tears. I think she likes performing so she should be OK. Probably I'll be more nervous than her! Anyway, she is far more grown up than last year with much better concentration so that will help her.

The last week of term is also an opportunity for parents to sit in and watch the classes. It was a disappointment, then, on Tuesday when S completely refused to participate in her lesson. I had been looking forward to seeing her. Really I think she is exceptionally good (as far as you can tell for a three year old). She copies and picks up what the older ones are doing. Her legs are turned out, feet pointed, body poised.

And she loves it. Such a shame that she had got the blinkers on - "I'm shy" - and she wouldn't budge. All the tactics were used to try and coax her, but she cried sorrowfully when coerced into joining in. I gave in. I didn't want to be so cruel as to force her.

It's a dilemma many parents must go through. How much to encourage, how much to push and how much to give way and let them be. You want them to feel confident and happy, but how can you best help them achieve that if they are finding a situation stressful. They need to feel secure that you love them no matter what, but sometimes they need a nudge, not a bolt hole. Then if they have a go and succeed, they will have that extra buzz from overcoming their anxieties. It will stand them in good stead for next time.

Fortunately, S will not have her first exam for a couple of years, so there is plenty of time for her to overcome her shyness. In the meantime she's seen how her sister has applied herself. Fingers crossed she will then see fruits of that effort. Either way, P will be a grade 2 pupil next term and I'll be proud of her.

Roll on tomorrow. Break a leg, girls!

This photo was taken after the exam - a bottle of hairspray to keep the curls down!