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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adjusting to high school


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Thanks Treefrog.  Actually, it used to be that way here, but now if you enter high school with Algebra I under you belt you have to take Geometry as a freshman and cannot take Algebra II/Trig until sophomore.  Crazy thing, but with a new state standardized mandatory 10th grade math test, some schools found their students were doing poorly in Geometry knowledge, even by brainy Algebra/trig types. So now they are "teaching to the test."


This and other replies on math classes got me thinking:


Way back when, when I was in middle school and H.S., I was like many students in that I didn't take Algebra I until 9th grade, then Geometry in 10th, followed by Algebra II in 11th and Pre-Calc in 12th. Nowadays I would be considered "behind schedule" when compared to many students today, including my dd. But, I don't think I turned out too badly since I graduated with a Civil Engineering degree in college (which required a full year of calculus & diff. equations, mechanics, dynamics, etc.)


Another thought: My dd is attending a H.S. where they require all incoming new students (doesn't matter the grade) to take a math placement test. The reason is that they discovered before requiring the test that the quality of math instruction varied across the different school districts that the incoming students came from. What the students learned in Algebra I, Geometry, etc. varied from poor to excellent. And the result was that some of the students who had taken these courses and registered for the next math class in the sequence started to fail bec. they didn't have a solid grounding in Algebra I and Geometry.


(Another observation: My dd's Algebra teacher in 8th grade told the story of how he had his own daughter repeat Algebra I. Though she got A's & B's on the tests, when he asked her to explain some of the concepts she was tested on, she couldn't do it. Turned out she was a good test-taker and could pass the class without really understanding the concepts. The second time 'round, something "clicked" in her brain and she got it! She's now in H.S. doing wonderfully in the more advanced math classes.)


So my thought is "slow & steady" is how students should approach math bec. ultimately they will all cross the finish line. But those that go too quickly in the "math race" and do not have a very good grasp in the beginning math classes will very quickly start to get into trouble when taking the later math classes such as Pre-Calc and Calculus.

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  • gogators


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knock knock from the other side again..


About math: I agree that at most one needs to reach calculus by the end of h.s., which is (usually) 5 years of math: Alg 1 & 2, Geometry, Trig/etc., Calculus. Getting just the 4 years starting with Algebra is fine too. In fact, for a lot of kids, I'd rather see the 4 years up to pre-calc plus one year of statistics and "real-world" math/econ. But that's just me.


Anyway, this weekend I was at a get-together with my fellow alumni interviewers for a near-Ivy-level (but not Ivy) university. It was agreed by all that, while AP/advanced courses are desirable, universities are looking for well-rounded students who have pursued _something_ in a deep way. Pre-pro level ballet would certainly fall into this category.


A couple of other points to echo/reinforce

--The hypercompetitive course load etc. is only "par for the course" for a handful of the most selective institutions in the country, which may or may not be the right place for everyone for LOTS of reasons. There are dozens (if not hundreds!) of other fine institutions from which your dk has every opportunity to get a superb college education.


--Speaking of which, college is what you make of it. It is pretty easy to slide through without much exertion even at many very selective institutions. By the same token, the motivated student will find plenty of opportunities even at other institutions.


--If you can't pursue a passion in high school, for pete's sake, when?

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flygirl, I feel for you and, especially, your DD!


My older DD also had a stormy transition (coming from that same N-8 school my younger DD is at now). Long story short, as a senior she is pretty relaxed, and has definitely learned how to manage her time and her assignments. But there were many weeks of crying and parental support at first.


A large part of the problem was exactly what gogators mentioned: she did not have really good grounding in math. However, since she had gotten straight A's previously she was put in the accelerated Algebra II class. It was very frustrating for her because she simply didn't have a firm grasp on the foundations of algebra -- such as how to factor and when it is useful to do it -- and not really even on some basic mathematical operations, especially those involving fractions.


To keep her sanity, we let her drop back to the regular Algebra II class. I think it was probably a good move, except that it's very hard to switch into the advanced track after that, and she recently said that she had been pretty bored in her classes ever after.


As a first-year, though, it all looked pretty hopeless to her. I imagine this is how your DD feels. My DD felt constantly overwhelmed, as though she'd just never see the light at the end of the tunnel.


Part of this comes from being that conscientious DK type. I did a couple of things. One, I made sure she got to bed at a decent time each night -- not always as early as I would have liked, but not in the wee hours. Two, I was always ready to supply notes to teachers stating that, in my opinion, DD had made a good effort, had put in X hours on the assignment, and that I had made her stop in order to get a decent night's sleep. (I don't think an teacher ever asked for such a note, but knowing that I would back her up enabled her to "let go" a bit.) Three, we relaxed the "you must attend ALL ballet classes" rule.


The main thing to do, I think, is to find the ways in which you and the kid can develop some control over the overwhelming demands. In psychology, there is the concept of "learned helplessness", in which animals (and humans) will simply shut down when it appears that they have absolutely no control over an unpleasant situation. This is an excellent time for students -- especially those with perfectionist tendencies -- to find out that the world won't cave in if they don't complete an assignment, or turn it in late. (Use those math skills: if 40 daily assignment together count for 10% of the grade, how much is lost by turning five of them in late?).


I would encourage your DD to think of ways she can do things differently (but do this when she is relaxed, not in the midst of a breakdown). Let her know you will back her up and help in any way you can, but let her think of the solutions. This might result in a more organized schedule, a greater commitment to getting enough sleep (whose value CANNOT be overestimated), giving herself permission to do a "sloppy" job, or taking afternoon naps.


Good luck! This, too, shall pass.

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After getting glowing feedback after math class, I thought I'd pass on that DD, who didn't take Algebra I until 9th grade, and as a result is considered in the "dumb" math class (though all honors and APs other than math), is a junior in Algebra II, and is the total star of her class. She has a grade of 101%, answers all questions happily and accurately, and has been told repeatedly by her teacher that she is "good" at math. She is now approaching the SAT/ACT tests with a belief that she CAN do well on the math portion. This is a kid, who since she had trouble with the times tables in 3rd grade, has firmly believed, no matter what we did or said, that she was "bad" at math. Being on a slower track for math helped her gain confidence and skill. It was a good move for her.

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Just another comment on the push to accelerate through high school. I was watching the football this weekend (yes I admit to enjoying watching hours of men smashing into each other) and they were talking about a wide receiver on one team who never completed high school. He had dropped out of high school but two years later took a placement test for junior college. After two years at junior college switched to a division 1 state school and graduated from college with honors.

I am not advocating dropping out of high school, but for all the berating the US public school system gets, it is more forgiving than anywhere in the world I know. Kids can make up for their past difficulties (and successes) in school if they need to. There are many stories of people who have been amazingly successful in life even after being mediocore high school students at best. So maybe we don't need to sweat it quite so much.


And as for math - we pulled DD out of math class because of year after year of dismal teaching that convinced her she was stupid. Now she officially does math by corespondence. I teach her at home and she has discovered that she is actually rather good at algebra. Particularly those danged story problems. I would not recommend this for others, but like dancer1soccer1's DD, mine needed better teaching and a less stressful environment so she could master the work.

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I watched this thread for awhile to decide if - or what - to post. What I decided on isn’t exactly related to the initial post, but touches on some things that several posters have said.


Back (long ago) when I was in high school, you were either a "smart student" or a "jock" or an "other." My group all belonged to the "smart student" group. We took all college-prep classes, graduated at the top of our class, and had academic scholarships to several colleges. Our extra curricular activities were Beta Club and National Honor Society and Math Team. We always got As. Fun for us was doing homework. After all, we were doing what we needed to achieve success. A few years ago, I found myself looking at the biographies of my classmates just prior to our twenty fifth high school reunion. The things I read were absolutely amazing. The football jock who never got above a C in regular classes was a successful - and prominent – attorney specializing in divorce law. We didn’t even think he was capable of getting into college, much less graduating and going on to law school. The kid who spent most of the time in the principal's office or hanging out in the "smoke hole" was an international marketing consultant (with a Masters degree) with a firm based in Singapore. Our class valedictorian, who received a full academic scholarship to a prestigious university, quit college as a sophmore to raise a family. In the end, I found that most of it (the high school over-obsessiveness) didn't really matter. Everyone ended up in - generally - the same place - successful careers, great families, and interesting life experiences. My extra work got me no further than any of them. And I now have serious regrets about what I had missed out on along the way.


So, for our 9th grade DS, who doesn’t care for the academic portion of school, we encourage honors classes but don't mandate them. I doubt my DS will ever take an AP class, unless it's on dance history or costume design. He doesn’t get straight As, and that’s OK. We do make sure he applies himself with a somewhat decent work ethic. We do help him understand the relationship between school assignments and success in the workplace (by focusing on the processes). We do make sure he takes the courses that most colleges require, such as two or three years of foreign language, lots of science, and four years of math. But we understand that at this point in his life, he really does need to have fun. And all of those seemingly worthless social activities, such as hanging out at the mall or going to the movies or meeting friends at a football game, are really very valuable. They are helping him build skills in networking, presentation, and communication that will serve him very well in his adult life. As for not taking AP classes – well, he'll only be 17 when he graduates from high school anyway. Based on our experience with him and school so far, we're committed to having him attend community college for at least a year in order to make sure the commitment is there before sending him off to a potentially very expensive college or university. Many of our friends are appalled at this approach. But the reality is that many of the community college systems offer superior educational opportunities. We don’t think he will be compromising his learning - and he's certain to be accepted. And in the meantime, he has the chance to pursue his dance dreams, be a teenager, and learn "how to learn."

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Temps de cuisse

Yes!!! I very much agree with your viewpoint, Cheetah.

There is TOO much emphasis placed on academics in our HS schools today. When and how are young people to discover all the other avenues in life outside of the academic world? As for pushing college level material on younger teens I say "phooey" There is a reason they are college classes and it is because the student will get much more from them when they have the maturity to go along with the knowledge.

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Pushing academics is fine if the students are actually absorbing the material. And doing the work themselves. Some students can succesfully do this. Unfortunatey there are many students in our area who enroll in higher level classes because it's a way of social stratification. Those who are in "regular" or "academic" classes are often considered socially inferior or lazy or weak or undisciplined. But these same "honors students" can't - or don't - do the work. I've seen many of their parents doing the work for them while their children are busy at baseball games and dress rehearsals and football practices. I've also worked at a good "2nd-tier" university and seen just what happens when those kids get to college and have to do it all themselves. They don't even know where to start to "learn." Certainly this doesn't apply to all kids. So very many are more than capable of dealing with heavy academic loads, great social lives, and demanding extracurricular schedules. Just not my DS. It took years for us to realize that the course of action we're taking with him is OK. And we're finally at peace with that. It doesn't mean that we don't value academics - we very much do - but we also believe in balance and in putting in the extra effort to find a path that works best for him as an individual. And doing something - like all AP classes - just because everyone else in the neighborhood is doing it - isn't a viable excuse. Our goal at the end of four years of high school is to somehow find a way to inspire a passion for learning in him! But we also want to work with him to find his strengths and teach him to capitalize on them while finding the courage to work on the weaknesses. In other words - how to be a self-sufficent adult.

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One of the "rah rahs" as we used to call them, way back when...was viewed by many as a ditzy type blonde. She was a beauty queen, on the dating game and generally one of the girls that no one thought much more about than she was gorgeous and sweet. I don't know much about her academic standings. She was homecoming queen and a cheerleader. I don't remember much about her status with teachers and I don't believe she recieved any scholorships. We all assumed she would either go to Hollywood and become the new Farrah Faucett or would marry the football quarterback and live happily ever after.

She is now the governor of an upper midwest state. (I don't want to name which one out of respect for her privacy.)

We never had AP classes, just Honors. Seems she did very well. You just never know. Many kids, a couple of mine as well, don't apply themselves in high school but go on to very successful carreers.

It depends on the child and what they are able to handle. Like Cheetah says, it is different for every kid and not taking all or any AP courses doesn't make anyone a dummy or out of the running for acceptance into a good college.

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My dd is a junior, in algebra 2 this year. She dances 6 days a week & is a teaching assistant for 1 class a week. DD has a great GPA, takes no AP classes (although she could) & she does go to a private high school (parochial). She also has rehabilitative Pilates 1-2 hrs per week. She has a ton of friends from both her dance world & her school world (a few actually overlap!), gets her work done, and is a good kid. She goes to school dances & football games, but only a few other school activities. Dance is more important to her. I could push her into AP or even community college classes but WHY?


She'll get into a good college on her own merits, if this I am very sure (have been through this with my other kids). Meanwhile, her organization skills are top notch & this is a life skill some never master.


Relax, moms & dads, "The kids are all right." (wasn't that The Who?)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Our Freshman Dd was having too many hours of homework to possibly do it all and dance every night plus all-day Saturday. . . So we talked to the school about getting "exempt" from PE (as others have mentioned). We were told it is "no longer allowed." But, we persisted and eventually school administrators agreed that Dd could "homeschool" PE (which requires a bit of paperwork on our part, including a "physical training plan" ha!) This frees up the period that she would have been taking PE as "study hall". So, she'll have 1 1/2 hrs every other day to work on homework during school hours. As soon as we made this switch, presto, everything became "sane" again. Seems important to "listen up" and make adjustments pretty quickly if your teen is trying their hardest and still finding a schedule too stressful. Otherwise, we were worried she wouldn't be able to do ANYTHING well . . neither dance nor academics . . and her confidence and interest in either/both would suffer.

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Just read your post in regards to your daughter and school. This could be MY daughter word for word, AND we live in MA. (maybe we know each other?)

DD was a Freshman last year and the stress and tears would fill a bucket. We made major adjustments to her high school schedule, not so many honors classes, etc. The biggest problem was the ballet school. The school is a very good small city ballet school, but 99% of students there have no desire to dance professionally, they do want to go to a good college. There were many problems with the 6 hours of homework/ missing ballet class issue. The ballet school felt that school came second and of course the parents(me) felt ballet came second. This was very stressfull. Daughter also dancing a good 12-15 hours per week not including rehearsal time, which we are into now that adds another 5-8 hours per week.

Ballet school has been threatening to demote students for missing class.

Very Stressfull!


Edited by jjj
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Hello jjj

I just went back to read my post from the beginning of the school year and I am happy to report things are MUCH better. I was really at the end of my rope when I wrote that post....it was a very tough first 6 wks or so. Now DD is still stressed around tests....but most days she is ok with the workload. She is getting to sleep before 11 most nights now... yay! She still LOVES her honors classes and enjoys learning with the kids she considers her peers.

I think what may have helped her "turn the corner" is her father and I telling her a B IS A GOOD GRADE. By the way, I am personally very ashamed to admit this was not an easy thing for me to do. I have always expected A's from her and I'm sure that my pressure, even unspoken, was a big part of the problem. She is working very hard and she is very proud of her recent report card...equal amounts of B+'s and A's.

I'm also happy to report that she is enjoying her weekends and managing to fit in a football game, a sleepover, or a concert. I don't think any of the other parents in the high school would describe my DD's life as "balanced" because of all the hours of dance. But this is the way she wants it, and as for me....I'm just thrilled we survived the past few months and I have a happy

girl again!! :wub:

No wonder you are all stressed with pressure from the ballet school as well! This year my daughter elected to skip Nutcracker and she probably will not audition for the performing ensemble, either. She figures she'll be busy enough with school and auditioning for SI's.

Good luck and report back to us!

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As my dd would say online "OMG" :) flygirl's post above describes my dd's first couple of months of high school almost to a "T." She too was going through a rough transition the first couple of months as a new 9th grader at a new high school -- much more rigorous coursework, juggling school work & homework load with her ballet schedule, balancing time with her friends from her old school, her new school and her ballet friends, etc. etc.


Also, like flygirl's daughter, my dd also went through an adjustment with grades. At her old school, classes were pretty easy and she mostly made straight A's. At her new school, she (and her mom & dad) had to get used to the fact that the school has no grade inflation (few A's are given out) and being happy with her making mostly B's. And like flygirl's dd, my dd was doing alot of late-night studying in the beginning, but now has settled into a study schedule where she gets to bed by 11 most school nights.


Dd has gotten somewhat involved with H.S. activities via their yearbook staff, which was possible because they meet during school hours. I don't think she could handle afterschool activities or clubs -- at least not this year. Also, no football games yet since she has still ballet class on Friday's (but if she moved up to the next level, it will become possible with the schedule change). Though I have to say that flygirl's dd was very wise to skip Nutcracker!


So I guess, the lesson I've learned so far, is that there is light at the end of the tunnel when transitioning to high school. Now, I just have to prepare for the "sophmore slump" next school year... :D

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