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Independent School Decision


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After a long and drawn out battle with DD's school, we have decided to allow her to do independent study for this year. It was a very tough decision.

There are those in our family who think we are nuts and putting our daughters academic future in jeapordy. We have had to endure nasty remarks from school counselers, friends (I use the term loosely) and family. :(

We have been accused of being nonrealistic and pushing our daughter into something that is not going to go anywhere. (all of this from non dancers)

We were told by dd's new dance teachers that dd has potential and talent. They are looking forward to working with her and seeing her grow as a dancer. This along with dd's first SI audition experiences has led us to believe that there is "something" there and it is worth pursuing. Not only that, but dd's total committment to her dance is another factor.

We signed up yesterday for school and I was quite shocked to find out that the schools independent study program is the absolute bare minimum. They only are concerned with the 4 basics and that is it. Anything else is up to us.

I find this a challange but not impossible. We have purchased two seperate language programs. (spanish, dd has already taken 1 year of this with an A, and french, something she decided to try out).

I would appreciate it if other independent students / parents out there could give me some advice on this new direction our dd is undertaking.

She is in 8th grade this year and very intelligent. In reviewing the books and information we received, dd should have 8th grade done sometime around the first of the year. :huepfen:

I have not yet received an answer if they will allow her to continue onto 9th grade work if she does in fact accomplish this.

Making this decision was difficult and worrisome but I feel it is in the best interest of our daughter at this time.

I would love to hear from others who have had to make this decision and how your dk's are doing.

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  • Redstorm


  • vagansmom


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  • vicarious


We pulled our daughter out of school at the end of 6th grade so that she would have a better balance of ballet time and academic time (she was getting exhausted doing it the "normal" way). We were not at all unhappy with her school; it just didn't work for her schedule and goals. We moved to a homeschool independent study program, not a public school independent study program. In our area, the public school independent study programs do not provide the academic stimulation needed by the above-average student. You are lucky you live in California, because it is one of the "easiest" states as far as homeschool restrictions go. You may want to consider actually hooking up with a homeschool support group in your area to get more information. You could try an internet search for homeschool groups and see what you come up with. The group that we found in our area provides a school transcript and filing of the afidavit that is required by the local school district and state. They also provide help with curriculum choices (and there are TONS) which helped us provide a more individualized program for our student. If you are currently enrolled with a public school ISP they will be handling the transcript, curriculum and afidavit for you, but you will have few choices as to course content. If you decide to switch your child to a homeschool group, you may receive a great deal of resistance from the school district. I'm not really sure of the reasons behind this resistance, but I know that some of it is due to the fact that the public school district would not be getting the money it normally gets from the state for your student to attend school on a daily basis. If you want to research your rights in this regard, the best place to get information is on the Homeschool Legal Defense Association website (which you can also find by doing an internet search).


As far as nasty comments by "friends" and family members, it is just one of those things that you have to get your thick skins on for. Remember, only you know your daughter as well as you do and only you know what will be the best for her. If you would like to "back-up" your teacher's assessment of your daughter's talent, just for peace of mind, it may be appopriate to consider an independent assessment of her ability.


Hang in there, and good luck! :jawdrop:

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Redstorm, have you checked into the California Virtual Academy system? I've used the k12 Virtual Academy program for my two kids for 2 years, as did our studio director for her youngest. It is quite intensive and very comprehensive--generally the biggest complaint about it. You'll learn a lot too. I think it's helpful to have a motivated, disciplined student, though I know that it's been a life-saver for kids who have problems learning in a typical classroom environment. We have found that it is very aggressive in every area and expectations of student capabilities are high. For example: the grammar/usage/mechanics portion is extremely comprehensive, unlike anything I got in school until high school and college. Writing is much more emphasized than it is in many public schools, as are history, science and art. The science program is very advanced and is not full of time-wasting activities; art strongly emphasized theory and art history; literature is comprehensive also. I haven't yet met anyone who can get through all of the regularly scheduled daily lessons; I'd guess it would take a good 8 hours or so, by which time you'd regret ever having lived! Check it out. It's based on the Core Knowledge program.

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Our DD also left public education at the 8th grade. We home school and NYS is a tough state to satisfy. They have raised the age that you can leave school to age 17. What that means for us is a longer time to report to them on her progress with homeshooling. Taking the independant route can be scary at times but you can do it. My Father was worried at the beginning but he is totally on our side now and even cuts articles out of the NYTimes on homeschooling and public education that backs us up on our decision. We were fortunate that our friends were also supportive. My older daughter did stay in school and is about to graduate from college to be a music teacher and she even helps with the schooling when she is home. The bottom line is that you do what is best for your child and you look for new friends that are supportive of you and respect your decisions. Hang in there. You can do this and it will work for you. There have been other posts in the past on these related subjects. I re-read them from time to time just to remind me why we made the decisions that we did. Dance training at a good school is always an investment in a childs future. Even if my DD doesn't make it in the professional world of dance we will have no regrets.

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Just another thought to maybe help a bit....this is not a life sentence! If it does not prove to be the best thing for your child, she can always go back to school :shrug: My guess is that, if you get the right program, she will probably get a better education, especailly if it is one like werlkj describes, with the writing. I am generally totally mystified, and often appalled, at the lack of writing skills of most high school, and even a lot of college students these days. I have not found the secondary schools, in general, to be doing a very good job of teaching these students to write. I'm sure there are exceptions, however, far too many of the students I taught in college were poor readers and very bad writers. :jawdrop:

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I'm struggling with the same situation right now. My soon-to-be high school sophomore wants to homeschool. Our school district has a public school for independent study that I am looking into. From what I understand, they provide the books and their curriculum is the same as the high school's. They also provide some sort of support and evaluation and a diploma.


There is the possibility that dd may go to a residency program for her senior year and learning to do independent study at home may ensure that she will be able to handle independent study while living away from home. What I am concerned about is how much of this (especially math) can she do on her own? Although I only work a few hours a week, I really don't want to spend the few hours that I have to myself teaching her. Has anyone done this type of a program? Would an academically gifted 15-year old be able to do this mostly on her own?

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I agree that homeschooling is a good idea if your DD is really dedicated to ballet. It provides for more flexibility and probably a better education. I believe there are interactive computer courses offerred from the Indiana University High school program that are fairly challenging. You might want to check it out.

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We have had good success with the Saxon Math systems that you get a companion CD for. It is like having a little teacher in the computer to talk you through the lessons. If that doesn't work you can hire a tutor from the local HS or maybe a college math major. I know of some parents that have hired math teachers on a weekly basis to help their children learn the math lessons that they aren't getting in the public school.

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Try Hotmath.com--useful for grades 6 thru 1st/2nd year of college. Provides step-by-step problem solving for odd-numbered problems in nearly all recently-published math textbooks. Includes hints every step of the way. Another hint, buy other versions of the same-level textbooks. A variety of explanations and approaches solves most issues. There's no need to fear math when homeschooling. You can do it!

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Homeschooling is so flexible. We can really get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time and are always working our homeschool schedule around ballet class and rehearsals.


There are so many homeschool curriculum catalogs out there with so much to choose from it can boggle the mind. I have found the most comprehensive to be Rainbow Resource Center with a 1000 page catalog. They are also online.

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Around here, there are strong homeschooling groups. What I've seen is that up till the age of about 15 or 16, motivated parents can do a great job homeschooling their own kids without even having to seek outside help (although it's so much nicer for the kids if they can be in small homeschooling groups for at least some lessons, field trips, etc. )


But it's really important, in the upper two years of high school, to be sure there are really decent teachers for subjects like chemistry, physics, and calculus. Band together with other homeschoolers and hire or barter for someone experienced in teaching these subjects.


My friend's daughter took courses at a local community college while she was in high school. She was able to take chemistry and biology that way. The school already had the equipment. It's funny, isn't it, that a homeschooling kid can pick and choose classes from a community college but not from a local high school!

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I'm glad vagansmom mentioned the local Community College. I forgot about that. We are looking into the Chemistry class they offer. They even have a very basic intro class if you don't want to jump into full Chemistry the first time. I still have Chem fear from HS :) , it was closely related to my Math terror :speechless:. We did, however teach her Biology at home. We purchased a microscope and had many hours of fun looking at pond scum and mushroom spores. :o

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We started hs when my kids were small because of school district troubles. As they have gotten older, their activities filled so much time that it ws the only option. My family(especially the in-laws) were pretty sure I had ruined the kids' futures. Its hard to take, but our motto is "jsut smile and nod" I second the Saxon math option-the only thing you need is to supplement with geometry. Another good supplement is to check your local university for grad students. Many make excellent tutors. For sciences,math and foreign languages they are great. Use your ballet to fill out the state requirements for fine arts and physical education. You will gain confidence as you do this for a period of time. Its amazing how many interests a child cn explore when not bound by time and space requirements of traditional school. My oldest son was accepted to 3 highly competitve colleges, and a state school this past spring, so it does not hinder higher education if she does not end up dancing. My dancing children have the free time that their peers do not and I am convinced it is a healthy and reasonable alternative to traditional school.

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Some thoughts on home schooling and the development of the precocious child.


1. Home schooling is neither good nor bad. The quality of home schooling I think is dependent on the parent doing the teaching, the son or daughter doing the learning, and the relationship they have. One thing that I think is very good about American society is that even if we screw up our education during the early teen years, there are ample opportunities to remediate that later in life if someone really wants to become educated and learn.


2. Parents vastly overestimate the talent of their progeny. That’s just part of being a parent and not bad in itself. But if a child has real talent and if that child is to realize that talent, he or she must follow the development path that others take. Usually that means something like doing something nontraditional and perhaps delaying things like schooling. The probability is that the child will never fully realize his or her talent, but often the journey becomes an education better than any academic experience.


3. To succeed at a high level, one needs three things—talent, passion for the activity, and a willingness to work unbelievably hard. Talent (especially in girls) usually shows at a young age. But passion and willingness to work really hard are more malleable, often influenced by other opportunities, experiences, and desires. Younger teens want to please their parents, but as they get older they want to find themselves. That may or may not include pursuit of maximizing the talent one has. There is nothing wrong with that either.

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We have also made the decision to homeschool this year after many hours of family discussions, research, and a little soul-searching. We needed more flexibility in scheduling for my daughter, and explored every avenue we could think of through our local high school and district. To say we were disappointed with the response of our local school officials is putting it mildly. Mostly, there was no attempt to help except from a high school principal at another school who happened to be a personal friend. (And this is for a student ranked 10th this past year out of a class of over 800 students.)


It's a little scary, I'll admit, but we're starting to become very excited about it. The possibilities seem endless. Since my daughter will be a junior this year, we are going with more traditional correspondence and internet classes. She doesn't think she will have a problem with math and science right now, but there are tutors available through local support groups if necessary. Although she's had some excellent public school teachers, I actually wish I had looked into homeschooling much earlier.

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