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Adjusting to high school


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My dd just started high school as a freshman this year and I can see that aside from the usual adjustments one goes thru when switching to a new school (i.e., making new friends, adjusting to more rigorous coursework, adjusting to a new school schedule, etc.), there's also the challenge of her balancing all of this with her ballet schedule. (My dd takes ballet 5 days per week for about 12 hrs total. Also, I should say that this is probably a big adjustment for her bec. she attended a K-8 school since Kindergarten and never had to switch schools until now.)


Though I've encouraged my dd to become involved with the different school activities as a way for her to make new friends and become more comfortable at her new school, I'm also mindful that she has her ballet classes, which she continues to love to do.


I'm wondering if it's possible to still be (somewhat) involved with high school while continuing a 5-6 day/week ballet schedule? I know that she can handle the academics since she's organized and a hard worker, but I wonder about the extra curricular activities?


I welcome any advice from others who've gone through this period of adjusting to high school, while balancing ballet!


Much thanks!

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I am really lucky becuase my husband teaches high school and he had a great handle on this while I was adjusting to high school as a parent. I cannot say much about balancing ballet and HS because my DD opted to attend University classes and finish high school through a correspondence course.


Out non dancing son is very involoved in musical theater and has done lots of community theater productions. He ran into problems when he wanted to do Madrigals, A Capella choir, voice lessons, the school musical and then decided that he wanted to audition for a part in A Christmas Carol.


I suggested to him that he do the activites he has already signed up for and to have more time to see all his friends.


It is possible to balance high school and school activities and something as demanding as dance (or theater) but the time commitments need to be thought out and realistically chosen. Before he did the musical, I had him perform a song at the talent show at school so he friends saw what his time away from school was for.


Trust yourself to know what is best....you will do just fine!

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We'll be facing the HS transition next year, and our situation is very much like yours. DD has been in the same N-8 school since she was three. My biggest concern is learning to juggle the homework obligations, since the HS she will probably attend is known for huge homework loads, and the school she currently attends has essentially ... none (the kids often finish their work at school). She is now dancing 6 days a week, with four technique classes, three pointe classes, and about six hours of variable master class/focus class/rehearsal that our most committed dancers participate in.


Here's what I'm doing this year to help with the transition: I'm insisting on a certain period of "brain work" every night, whether she has homework or not. The time can be spent reading, writing, doing games and puzzles (our family is big on crosswords and, now, sudoku), or anything else that requires focus and concentration (say, working on her knitting project). I'm really hoping she can avoid the feeling of getting "slammed" next year, AND learn to arrange her time so that work gets done. This is not a skill that comes naturally to her.


As for getting involved in school life, social stuff, etc -- I can't imagine there will be ANY time for that! At least, not on weekdays.

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We are in the same boat. DD went back to traditional school after taking a year off and doing independent study. She is thrilled to be back in a class room situation. The homework hasn't been too bad. She is at a school that has adopted the block schedule. She has 4 classes each semester that are 88 minutes long. She opted to knock out a lot her freshman year taking 2 math classes and 2 spanish classes...(that will equal 2 years of classes in one year)

She was interested in the drama department which has dance included in it but once she saw their schedule, decided that she would not forgo any of her ballet classes for this. I was a bit disappointed hoping she might get involved with some school activities to make friends. She is a stubborn one and refuses to miss any classes. I respect her decision and will see how it goes.

DD dances Sunday thru Friday so anything after school is out. She doesn't seem to mind but if she ever decided to join a group at school, she would have to give up some ballet classes. :P I don't see that happening anytime soon. :)

She does have Friday nights after 7:30pm free and all day Saturday so she can attend football/basketball games, dances and other weekend activities. That seems to be enough for her.

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Dd is officially an 8th grader but she is at a 4-12 school and has more of her classes at the high school level than at the junior high. She dances at school with the high school dance ensemble, so she gets some social time here. But we have found balancing the schedule very difficult and she has had to drop more and moe other school activities as dance time has increased. She is on the verge of being kicked out of the national junior honors society because they meet when the dance ensemble rehearses.


Our solution, although not great, is to let her over extend for periods of time. So it means picking extra curriculars that have defined time frames. She is going to do the school musical again, whivh will mean going from rehearsal to rehearsal for two months and not getting home until late. But then once this and Nutcracker are done she cannot do any extra activities for the winter quarter. Sicne she has dance class at 9 am Sat. mornings she is very limited on what she can do on weekends, which is probably where are biggest conflicts lie.


Our school also has some activities that meet during the academic day, lunch or before school starts. You may see if these are possible. DD has also been doing some office work volunteering (part of NJHS) and this means she meets different students throughout the day- its not quite the same, but it does help her meet students who are not in her classes.

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Thanks everyone for your input! Dd is currently erring on the conservative side (which I realize is natural since it's only been about a week since school started), and she's choosing to hold off on getting involved with something at school until she feels that she's got her bearings with her academics and afterschool & weekend ballet classes.


But it will certainly be an interesting and exciting time for her --- there's just so many interests to explore during high school (outside of ballet). But I guess I just need to be patient and let her sort things out and just be available when she needs my help. :)


BTW, I came across a good set of articles written for teenagers who are going thru the "change" with entering high school:



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I'm sure your dd will find a way to be connected and feel involved...it takes time, and as you say, school has barely started. One of the ways my dd was able to get involved without sacrificing her dancing when she entered 9th grade was to join a service organization that meets at lunchtime rather than after school. There were occasional optional weekend activities that she could fit around her ballet schedule. In fact, at her school, there are many clubs and special interest groups that meet at lunchtime.


Other than that, she kept in touch with friends (old ones from elementary and middle school, new high school ones, and ballet ones) all through the Internet of course! Things are much different than they were in our youth! Also, she goes to a school that is a magnet and therefore attracts people from many different areas. That means that there really isn't that much "hanging out" after school to be missed because everyone scatters to their homes and various activities. Chances are that your dd's new compatriots have afternoon commitments of their own, too! The kids will find a way to get together on Friday or Saturday nights, etc. You just have to be willing to do a whole lotta drivin :blushing: (Until they get their driver's licenses!)


My dd has also tried to involve her new friends in her ballet life to the degree that is appropriate, even bringing them with her to the studio to watch a class, and also to come to performances. That has been really wonderful.


Homework, of course, is another story. But I am sure your dd has already developed her balancing act. For mine, 9th and 10th grade were "survivable" even with a very rigorous ballet schedule. 11th however may be a different story. I'll report back!



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Eegads! Just when I'm starting to calm down about my dd entering 9th grade, I now realize that there's the dreaded "junior year" to look forward to! :blushing:


High school certainly was different and less stressful when I went and I never even sweated during my junior year when taking the SAT and applying to colleges.


I will be curious to see how some of your DKs further survive H.S. during this 3rd year with (even more) ballet classes, PSATs, SATs, SAT II's, researching colleges, community service, etc. Yikes!

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The key, we found, is to slow down and take it one day at a time. Ponder over anything before actually joining. And weighing out the pros and cons if needed. Take a slow approach to finding your "place" and be ok with that. And to allow our thinking to adjust somewhat off the beaten path.


Also, our school offers a mandatory attendance policy for clubs (to avoid the "get the perks on your transcript but we've never really seen you" syndrome). When they added this program, they also added clubs meeting 3 times in one day. 7:45am, lunchtime and right after school. So she was able to choose when to attend, but she could still attend.


Our school has a block schedule which is FABULOUS for students with intense after school schedules. We would not have been able to continue with our long drive to dance without that flexibility of not having all homework due the next day.


We did find that DD's circle of close friends shifted to students who were as active as she was outside of school. There was no big fallout with others, just that she kept saying no to weekday or Saturday morning invites so they eventually stopped asking. They still support her, but from afar or over the internet. If DD had not been as dedicated to dancing as she is, this might have been a breaking point for her since she is a social being. But luckily, the friends she merged to all have equally as busy schedules (a clogger on one of the nation's top competitive teams, an elite soccer player, a 1st chair youth symphony flutist and the state's 4-H president) so they balance off one another. As mom, I was happy last year at Prom when all her friends, new and long lost, joined together to rent a Party Bus. This meant the friendships did actually last through all this.


To help with schoolwork, she had to become creative. Like learning you can stretch before class while reading a book at the same time. Or that the study room at the studio can really be used for studying. But the biggest adjustment was in her ballet thinking. She realized her requirement for class was a certain number of times each week. There was no real regulation that all those times had to be in her level. So she dropped the "I'm in Level X" attitude and allowed herself to take a class at a different time occasionally to accomodate the things she wanted to do. Or sometimes taking class at our former studio for a day instead of driving the hour to and from allowed us to add 2 hours back into a day's schedule.


Good luck! And please don't sweat junior year before it gets here. You'll need all those fluids so you're not dehydrated during that year. No need to sweat it out already. :wub:



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DD survived freshman year at her old school fine. She was the only student from her k-8 school to go to that high school. She had dance class four days a week and Saturdays (12 hours total), so she got to go to football games, see friends, etc. on that free Friday night. I encouraged her to work on homework during any free time in class, and at lunch, so she could socialize and do a sort of "study group' at lunch. We also got her a cell phone so that between dance classes at night, and on the commute to and from dance, she could talk to friends. The transition wasn't as tough as we feared. We also committed, as parents, to driving her to whatever activity with friends she wanted to do on Sundays, her one totally free day. A pain in the neck for us, but worth it to see her make new friends. We also encouraged her to join one club, so that she would have an extracurricular, and explained to the club leader that sometimes she would skip dance to attend club activities, and gave the same explanation to the dance teacher. Then, sophomore year, we moved. New school, new challenges. Then it was dance 6 days a week, 18 hours total. The new school has clubs meet during school one period every other week. She now belongs to two clubs, (Beta and Pep club) because of this schedule. We worked with her studio to schedule Friday classes early so that high school students can have time to be home by 8, and still go out with friends if they want to. We all also give the dance schedules (homecoming, prom, etc.) to the dance studio at the beginning of the year. No big rehearsals are scheduled on prom, etc. She did homework during classes, at lunch, and during her commute to and from dance (a one hour drive each way - I drive). We committed as parents to paying for and transporting up to 10 friends to every performance she is in, so that her friends get to keep up with her life. We also skip dance sometimes for school events. You're only young once!


She's a junior this year (yikes!) and has the SAT/ACT stress, two AP classes, and an all honors load, plus 18 or more hours of dance a week. And I gotta tell you, it's TOUGH! Many tears and much yelling. We tried to convince her to take a lighter academic load, but she refused to do so. She is also adamantly against the homeschooling option, as she's very social. She's very academically focused. Students with the same academic load and similar grades are doing few, if any, extracurricular activities. She's busy every minute after school. We are upgrading her phone so that she'll have email capabilities too, so that she can stay connected with school friends. We actively seek activities her friends can do with her, and commit to transporting groups of kids to any activity or event she's interested in. We let friends call late at night, because we know she's not even home from dance until 10 p.m. many nights. We sit down with her periodically to help her organize homework, test schedules, and activities. It's going to be a loooooong year though. Anyone who has survived this have hints?

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yone who has survived this have hints?


Can't really say I survived yet since the Senior year seems to be more stressful on me (not her yet). But at least she is not a Junior anymore. :wub: My strongest advice would be to breathe in and out as many times a day as you can. When it's been long enough that you haven't taken a breath for you to notice the lack of oxygen.....schedule/demand a break! Now that sounds silly and I don't mean to. But the tears and the yelling are indications that at least a small break might be needed, either that or a mommy and me massage! :blushing:


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One of dd's friends is a junior this year and her schedule has led her to stop taking ballet as much as she used to. It is really too bad. She is such a great dancer but her school is very important to her. She has hours of homework each night. The other dancers miss her terribly.

There was an old post, I will have to research, that touched on the subject of "how much is too much"....and if all those AP/Honors classes are really necessary.

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I have a son who is a junior and in a release time program. He just went through a week of wrangling with his schedule so he could fit the credits he will need to graduate into his limited school time (ballet students take class at their shcool during the first 2 periods of the day). He ended up with a schedule with less AP classes than I would like but I have made my peace with that. Currently he does not plan on attending college right away but his counselor assured us that he should not have a problem if he chooses differently. He likely won't get into Harvard which is fine with him (and us).


He plans on participating in the school musical, as he did last year. It makes for a very intense 3 months but the fun he had was worth it. Other than that he does not do much else. His older brother did nothing beyond ballet when he was in the same program - that was plenty for him although he was able to fit in a heftier academic load. Both boys hang around with other ballet kids.


Working through this with my older son, I have learned to worry less and realize that there are many ways to get an education and make a career.

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:) ajg - I agree about the "worry less" part now. My DS (a Junior) is also on early release so his schedule needed tweaking as well. He's not taking any AP this year, but we have resigned ourselves to that fact, although in Canada, not all high schools offer them. He is not able to do any extra-curricular at the high school - no time. But he finishes dance by 6PM every day, so heads home to his billet family and has time to homework after dinner. Not much socializing during the week, but does get together with ballet buddies on the weekend.


He also does not intend to go to university after dance training - he will be taking the audition route. But, he now knows that a dance career ultimately ends and he is thinking about what he would like to study afterwards so has always kept up his end of his academic load.


I glad though that this year, some of his guy friends are outside of dance - helps to keep his world in perspective.

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Slightly off topic, so I apologize. My daughter has started University this year, not high school.


She never had the opportunity to take any AP courses in HS - none were offered at either of the schools she attended; as dancemomCA pointed out it can be pretty unusual here in Canada. Many Canadian Universities don't recognize them for advanced standing yet. That said daughter appears to be at a school that does accept at least some AP courses, and has a lot of americans too. She feels a bit intimidated from time to time as they talk about the AP courses a LOT and in some instances have read certain selections that she hasn't.


I figure it will all work out in the wash - at least I hope it will!


I know that the AP system is pretty intrenched now in the US, at least this is the impression that I have from reading here and other places online. However I have to wonder what the advantage is in addition to the logical "some universities expect it." At my daughter's uni it seems that some of the americans she's met will graduate a year early. On the one hand this would certainly save money, on the other hand...is early really a good thing? :party:


She's finding one of the challenges in being a freshman after living at a residency program and then being a counsellor at one is learning how NOT to look after other people. This is generally not a desired quality in a freshman at res! :)

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