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slhogan

Parents observing classes

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slhogan

I was wondering how common a practice it is for parents to not have the ability to watch their child's classes. At my son's school, the parents all stay downstairs during classes (the studios are upstairs) but we are invited into the studio to observe for the last week of each semester.

 

Since we've started dancing with this schoool, it's been a little weird for me to not watch his class (something I'm accustomed to). He's not much of a communicator, so I never really know what's going on up there.

 

I do recognize that there are advantages to parents not being able to observe--

 

* This is an audition-only school, so not being able to observe keeps parents from comparing kids and getting competitive

* We don't distract the kids, so they are able to pay attention to their teacher better

* The parents/siblings don't disturb the company members who are also practicing upstairs

* (this is the reason the school provided us) With no one but students, teachers, and company members allowed upstairs, there is better security for the dancers, many of whom are teens that are there all day.

 

Still, there are some disadvantages. For example, my son takes Ritalin. It's a long-acting form and supposed to last all day, but during parent-observation week I saw that his ritalin had obviously worn off (or was quickly wearing off) during his class. He was fidgety, day-dreaming, having trouble following his teacher's instructions, etc. Before his 2nd class that week, I gave him another dose and observed that he was *much* more focused and attentive. I wished that I had the chance to observe him earlier in the semester so I could have realized the problem and corrected it sooner. I feel almost as if a semester was wasted since he wasn't working up to his potential. Now, he's just switched to a ritalin patch instead of oral medicine (he's lost weight since starting ritalin last year--he really didn't have any weight to lose-- and the patch is supposed to not decrease appetite so much). I'm wishing I could observe him again before the end of Spring semester so I can make sure his patch is lasting all day the way it's supposed to.

 

Anyway, I was just wondering how common this is. From my conversations with parents I meet whose kids take ballet classes, it seems everyone else gets to watch their kid in class.

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Treefrog

Our studio allows parents to watch during an "observation week". Otherwise, not (unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as a visiting grandparent).

 

I think this is a wise policy. It's so easy to make their activity ours. Like you, I love to watch my kids dance -- but I think it is better for them if I restrict that to performances and officially sanctioned class visits. When I watched class, I did find myself comparing my kid to others, and making judgments. It's better for the kids to just be able to dance for themselves. (And besides, after a certain age, they don't want you to watch!)

 

You do have a special concern. However, as an academic teacher, I would urge you to begin transferring the responsibility for your son's behavior and medication needs to him and his teachers. Kids who "own" their issues and needs -- and strengths, too -- do much better in the long run. In your place, I'd start by asking your son how he thinks class is going, and how well he's able to focus. I'd also check in with his teachers, especially if you are making medication changes, and let them know what kinds of feedback you would like. In short, treat ballet much as you would your son's academic classes: stay in close contact, but don't hover.

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Hamorah

Well, from my experience it's pretty common for parents to not be allowed to watch class other than on designated watching days for all the reasons you stated, plus some! We don't allow it at our school, unless perhaps a relative comes on a visit from abroad, or the parents are not able to attend the open class.

 

However, with regard to the ritalin, I would like to note that if I were your son's teacher, I would want to know that he was taking this or any other drug or medicine which could affect his performance in class. May I ask if you have in fact informed the school? It's quite possible that if they knew, the teacher might have picked up on the fact that the ritalin was wearing off and would also have kept an eye on him to make sure that he was concentrating.

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CDR

We only have 'watch classes week' at the end of each term too. It's way too distracting to have parents there all the time for both the children and the teacher. Some schools don't offer a chance to observe at all unless the children are taking part in a performance.

 

I would agree with Hamorah though, the teacher definitely needs to be aware that he's taking this medication and why. Tell her that you had noticed it wearing off previously and ask her to watch for this again.

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dancerdriver

Knock Knock Parent of over 13 year old

 

In my experience most places have a rule prohibiting parents from watching class except for the observation week at end of term. That was even true at the Dolly Dingle my child attended. Parents are a distraction and even if your particular child is unfazed by people watching, perhaps another child in class would be uncomfortable.

 

It also protects children. While I'm sure nobody here at Ballet Talk would be guilty of this, I have been at class observations during the scheduled time and have been horrified to hear parents talking about the "skills" or lack of such for individual students who are not their children. And often these comments have been audible to dancers.

 

All in all I think that the no parents allowed policy protects dancers and parents as well. Better to wait until end of term and see how much your child has grown.

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Guest pink tights

Ugh. Parent observation....I would prefer a written evaluation. Parents are a distraction, which is probably why we don't have these at regular--academic--school.

Edited by pink tights

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BelaNina

My dd's ballet school has established one week per month as "observation" week, but it's rare that most parents stay and watch during this week. Last year, when my dd was 9 and a new student at the school, I did watch a few classes during the year. Regardless of the school's policy, my daughter wanted me to watch until she was about 8 1/2, and she has not wanted me to watch since (about 2 years ago now). Once I was comfortable with the switch in schools, and confident that the teaching was good, I was fine leaving it to the teachers and my dd. Sometimes, I do get to sneak a peek for a few minutes at the beginning or end of class, and I do enjoy those peeks.

 

I do agree with everyone else who has suggested that you speak with your ds's teachers regarding his diagnosis, your observations regarding the med wearing off, and your concerns regarding observing him in class now that he is on a new med. I know that not all teachers are knowledgeable about ADD, but I believe it's up to us as parents of kids with special needs to educate the adults who work with them as much as possible. Last year, I learned this the hard way. My ds (12) is dysgraphic (difficulty with the motor skills required for writing), among other learning issues. Little did I know that writing would at some point be an issue in a martial arts class! He had been studying Aikido for 2 years, and had taken several belt tests, and writing had never been a part of testing, or studying before. As he advanced in Aikido, he was expected to know several definitions of terms, and be able to recite some specific history and philosophy of Aikido. To help him study, his teacher requested that he write down some definitions, and a short paragraph on a specific point of Aikido history and turn the paper in at the next class. When time came to go to the next class, ds refused to get in the car! Rather than telling me what the teacher had requested, ds told me he wanted to quit Aikido, and never go back. It mystified me, until he let slip what had instigated the desire to quit: a request that he write something. When I called the teacher and told her what had happened, she was very understanding, but also wondered why I hadn't told her about his dysgraphia in the first place. :blushing: I shoulda known better since I'm a speech pathologist, and have worked with kids with special needs for many years. :blushing: Live and learn...

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yankee

We have the option of observing classes during the last week of each semester. I have to agree with what many have stated already: parent observation can be a tremendous distraction for some students. As a result of observing many an uncomfortable young dancer, I usually skip those weeks and wait until the next performance opportunity arises.

 

As for the medication issue, the ballet schools at which my daughter has been enrolled required parents to furnish them with any information about if/why/what medications were needed by the student. This request was included in the registration packet.

 

Certain medications are known to need adjustments (pediatric doses prescribed according to age/weight) and even if the school is aware of the need for the medication, parents are usually aware of when an adjustment is needed before anyone else makes that observation. The best we can do is keep our school teachers aware of these situations (medications, what to watch for) so that they understand the potential impact on the student's performance (academic, or otherwise).

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vicarious

I was discussing this very thing with a parent who's child was from a differrent school. That school had a window the entire length of the class. She said the school's reasoning was that it taught the students not to get distracted and therefor prepared for possible distractions from an audience in the theater. The other rational was that it taught parents how to behave. If the parents tried to correct the student, disturb the teacher or get catty - the student - was initially dismissed from the class and if problems continued dis-enrolled in the pre-pro program and perhaps the school as a whole.

 

Personally, I really perfer observing the exams. DK's school does not have an observation week but parent's may watch the semester exams. It is always such a surprise to see the progress they've made. I know I wouldn't see or appriciate that as much if I saw their classes frequently.

 

At a previous school observation week showed the things the students had mastered and them in their best light. During the exams at the current school the class progresses in difficulty such that the students eventually are being tested slightly above their level so that everyone, including the student, can see their maximum capacity at that point. There is a lot of nervousness for variety of reasons. I think it's great preparation for the stage.

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Blanche

The studios at my daughters' school have its no-observation policy posted on the windows (there are fairly large, hallway-facing windows on all but one of the studios). Most teachers also close the window blinds as well to discourage parents from watching. I would no more insist on sitting in on my daughters' academic classes than I would their dance classes. I would and do, however, make teachers (both academic and dance) aware of any unusual circumstances for my children that have occurred outside of class which may affect their performance in the class.

 

And I can attest to what dancerdriver says about parent discussions during observation week. I was shocked to hear discussion of "skills" in my younger daughter's creative movement observation class last Spring. Thankfully, I was already sitting on the floor, or I would have falled right off of my chair! B)

 

Don't feel that any part of the semester was "wasted" as your son is only 8 and still has plenty of time to develop his skills and talents. Many students will have semesters that are less than perfect or where their development slows for one reason or another. It's the cumulative effect of all that he's absorbed that's important.

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slhogan
I would no more insist on sitting in on my daughters' academic classes than I would their dance classes.

 

 

Well, it sounds like not being able to watch is the norm. I was able to watch at my son's first 3 studios (we moved him around a bit during his first year of dance!), and all the other places my kids take activities-- gymnastics, football, baseball-- the parents all stick around and watch, so it's all I've known. I'm still figuring out this ballet thing my son has gotten himself involoved in!

 

As for the Ritalin, it was on his application when he auditioned, so I assume his teacher (who is the lower school principle) took notice of it. If she wasn't aware of it before, she should know about it now because I left a note for her explaining my observations of his first class versus his second class that week.

 

He's not hyperactive or a discipline problem or anything. He just gets day-dreamy, unfocused, and scatter-brained. I think this new patch is going to work out well. He actually *asked* to wear it the other day (he hadn't been wearing the patch during Christmas holidays). When I asked why he wanted to wear it when he had no school work or lessons that day, he replied "I like the way it makes my brain feel. It makes me happy because I can think about things." He's never asked for his ritalin before (usually he resists it because he hates swallowing pills), and I think this is a good step towards his taking responsibility towards managing his medicine himself.

 

It somehow doesn't seem appropriate to ask her to observe his behavior and let me know how he's doing. For one thing, she doesn't know him other than 2 hours a week. Since his ritalin had worn off by classtime, that is the only way she knows him and would have no basis for comparison. Also, it seems she is quite busy with the class and I don't want her to feel like she has to pay special attention to my son. We homeschool, so perhaps I'm just not used to the teacher-student relationship.

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Pearl

My dd's studio also has an observation window without blinds on the largest classroom. This is the classroom reserved for the higher level ballet classes. The reason for allowing observation through the window are the same as stated above. The dancers learn not to be distracted. Rarely does anyone watch an entire class and I have never heard any comments from parents other than positive ones.

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cheetah

DS' studios have always had observations windows. His last studio had two-way mirrors. The only one that did NOT have these mirrors or windows was his Dolly Dinkle! Students could sometimes see through the two-way mirror, if the light was just right or the parents were very close. The AD felt that providing this glimpse into the studio was the way things should be done - and that parents had a right to expect to be able to see how their children were being instructed. In a discipline that often involves "manual manipulation of the body," I would think that offering these mirrors provides a level of security and protection for both teachers and students. I also noticed that the AD often took advantage of the mirrors to observe - unannounced - how students responded to other teachers, whether it was to certain combinations or to the teacher herself/himself. I even noticed other teachers taking the chance to simply watch the dancers. We don't often have the opportunity to observe class now, since he's away at school. However, the school does provide observation windows for those times when we are in the area.

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2marzipans

I have a dancer in her upper teens now who is studying away from home. I can't observe her classes anymore. I have to say I miss it. She also liked having me watch her once in awhile. You see very different things while watching your kids in a class compared to watching them in a performance. I see nothing wrong with a once-a-month observation, even though there are certain "ballet parents" who don't know how to conduct themselves in an observation situation. You will find them at auditions, too. Why wait until the show in June to see that your child is not progressing? You are paying money for tuition. It's good to see the dynamics of the classes and the teachers' styles.

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BelaNina

slhogan - my kids took gymnastics when they were little, and the parents sat on bleachers just outside the class area. Several classes were held at once in the same gym, and I think every time there was at least one parent who would shout corrections to their child from the bleachers! My neice trained for awhile at a gym where an olympic medalist had trained. This gym was much more strict, and though parents did watch, they were sequestered in a glassed in room at the edge of the gym! :lol:

 

The one time I observed my dd in her current ballet studio while other parents were also present, (we have to be in the classroom itself to observe), one of the mothers corrected her dd constantly. This same parent recently gave me a report on how she thought my dd was doing in class! From these experiences, I have to say I am not a fan of parents regularly observing ballet class!

 

It's great that your son has so much self awareness to be able to articulate to you how differenty he feels when he's using his meds. :lol: I agree with Blanche that this past semester hasn't been wasted. I'm sure he's learned quite a bit, and once he's able to focus more in class, all the information he's absorbed so far will benefit him even more from now on.

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