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going to a residence program

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Santos, has your son been away for the summer? When my daughter was away for 4 weeks, I discovered that she is very independent and responsible, but I also learned how very difficult it is to have her so far away.

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Once upon a time, a wise poster on BT4D pointed out that one must keep in mind that once they go, it's possible that they will never live at home again. Essentially, you will be giving up several years that you would have had with your child; you can never get those years back. ...........

I would like to here how other children reacted to the departure of their siblings.


You are right Dancin daughters when you point out that once they go they will never live at home again. Last summer my son did two consecutive programs for a total of 9 weeks. He was home for 3 days before we left to drop him off at his residency. He was home for Thanksgiving for 3 days, 10 days at Christmas and 6 days in April. He came home in June for 5 days and then off to his SI. When he returns he will be commuting to another program and then a week home before he is off again for the academic year. He said he is afraid to touch things and he feels like a guest in his own home as he spends so little time here now. We basically saw him leave home at 16. I miss him terribly


He is a twin. To answer your question about how his twin sister reacted I will say that his summers away every year helped to prepare her somewhat for his leaving. But they are best friends as well as twins and it was very hard for her. And at first he was so busy adjusting to his new home, balancing 5-6 hours per day of dance with academics that he found little time to talk to her. They keep in touch online now but it certainly is not the same.


A decision for residency affects the entire family. There are financial issues, time commitments, travel to performances when possible. My daughter has to consider our trips to see him perform when she is planning her schedule and activities.


We do not regret our decision to send him away; it was clearly in his best interests. But I am glad we did not send him earlier. And we have all had to adjust to this new situation.

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Hi Santos,


You are getting some great advice from the other posters! As far as siblings, DS has a younger brother and sister. They miss him terribly. I think that the relationship between them has actually become stronger since he left. They are much younger than he, and when he lived here full-time, they could be pretty bothersome to him sometimes. (Typical sibling disagreements--"Mom! The're in my room messing up my stuff!", etc...) But, since he is now only home for short holidays, he really makes an effort to spend time playing with them, instead of always being impatient with their behavior, etc. It is sort of similar to the relationship that a child of divorced parents would have with the parent they don't see as often. He sort of fawns over them, and tries to be more patient since he knows he doesn't get to see them very often.


I hope I'm not painting an unrealistic picture of what it is like to have a young child in a residency program. Overall, we have had an overwhelmingly positive expeience, but I'll try and list some more negatives.


-It IS hard to have him away, and we do miss him.

-It is a pain to get him back and forth to school for breaks, etc. (He is in Canada, about a 7 hour drive away.)

-We spent almost $1,000 just during Christmas week alone since we had to stay in a hotel to give him a place to stay during the 3-day christmas holiday so he could stay in town finish the Nutcracker run.

-I think our travel total for the year is up to about $4,000.

-We are out of the loop, big time. Now, I never had a particularly intense involvement in his academic or dance career in general, but a lot of information comes in bits and pieces, and sometimes I have to be proactive about getting the information I need. (Or just go without.)

-Your dancer will proably have a lot more freedom than he would at home. At my DK's age, I would probably just now be letting him go to the movies with friends (with me dropping him off at the movie start and picking him up at the movie end time.) However at his current school, he can sign out with one or two other kids and be loose in the city for a few hours. Now, he is a very good kid, and has a lot of common sense, but it still takes some getting used to. It is very odd to hear him tell me about how he and some friends took the subway and went to a movie, the mall, or the beach. :blink:


-And yes, once they go away, that's it. Even if he doesn't graduate from his current school, I expect that he would be off to another residency program (proably even further away than he is now--like Europe.) So, basically it's like my 12 year-old has gone away to college. It's just like that, really. B)

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I'm coming from a slightly different perspective- I just graduated from a college prep boarding school where I spent all of my high school years- but the experience of moving out well before the standard age is still probably similar.


I left home at 14. I decided to persue this option beginning in 7th grade, so I was 12 when I started thinking about it, 13 when I decided to do it. My parents were always very supportive but left all the decisions completely up to me- they wanted to see me happy and sure of my decision. The school I ultimately chose to attend was an hour to an hour and a half away from home- not too far, but far enough so that I really was away. When I first got there, it was a huge shock for me- the academic support system at the school was fantastic but I was on my own to find a way to dance and was also learning to take care of myself at the same time (I have many once white, now light blue or pink shirts to remember my first loads of laundry...). I eventually won a battle with the school about leaving campus to take ballet classes and managed to piece together a very busy pre-pro program on my own using classes at two local well respected studios and classes available through the school's very good modern based program. As soon as I had figured that out, I never once questioned my decision.


When I arrived, I also found myself with a lot more freedom than I had had at home and alot more desire to use that freedom. I was allowed to leave campus with friends and stay out until 10:00 at night on weekends (weekdays it was 7:00 except I had gotten permission to break that and be back at 9:00 or 10:00 after ballet), I could take the train into the city, I could take a taxi to the movie theater as long as I was with friends. As I got older, the freedoms increased more- I could stay out until midnight on weekends, I could leave campus and walk into town by myself. They did make sure we were safe though- we had to sign out before going anywhere, an adult had to see the driver of any vehicle we got into, we had to check in at designated times. They also had rules in place to help us establish good habits- for the first two years we were required to check in at breakfast, we had nightly study halls (that I was again, allowed to miss for ballet), we had set lights out times untill our senior year, we were only allowed to watch TV at certain hours, our internet and phone lines turned off at lights out. As I got older, these were the rules that started to bother me the most but looking back now, I have realized that they really have helped me develope good habits.


I'm another one that after I left home, I never really returned for more than a couple of days at a time. This summer is the first time I've been home for more than a week or two since I left for my SI before my freshman year (I'm unable to do a SI this summer due to injury). It's a very weird feeling, to not know where the toliet paper is kept in your own home, but my relationship with my brothers is so much stronger (they're 2 years and 6 years younger than me) than it was- we actually enjoy seeing eachother now.


I was always very mature for my age and leaving home when I did was the right decision for me- I wasn't thriving in the public school system and I wanted a change and I knew that, as long as I fought hard enough, I'd be able to get very good ballet training while I was away. My experience taught me so many things- how to do laundry, how to stand up for myself, how to cook many different meals in a microwave, how to wake myself up (with no less than 8 alarm clocks...it didn't help that my roommate also was a heavy sleeper!), and most importantly, it gave me a chance to be a teenager. Even though I was generally off campus most afternoons and weekends in classes and rehearsals (or on campus in the same), I had that extra time that wasn't spent driving from place to place that I was able to spend with friends. I was also surrounded by many others who were like me- they weren't necessarily dancers, but they were actively involved in another passion be it community service, academics, fencing, riding, or anything else. They understood the time commitments that I had and were more than supportive of it.

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Hmmm... La_Bailerina I am still am asked to do wake up calls to Germany before important days and we have an eight hour time difference. Maybe I should suggest eight alarm clocks instead! B)

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The eight alarm clocks had the built in fail safe method of also waking up everyone else on our hall so if the alarms didn't wake us up, an angry neighbor would!

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We are taking the plunge this year. DD is 15, turning 16. I don't think I could have agreed to this at an earlier time. I am having a tough time as it is. When dd received the offer for year round it was exciting and a nod, so to speak that she had something they were looking for. It is a heady feeling. We assumed from the beginning that it was a definite possibility she would attend this particular school. She had other offers but this one was her top pick. It all sounds great until the actual decision is made. Then reality has a way of smacking you in the face. :blink: We are actually going to allow our baby, our youngest, our just barely 16 year old daughter, move across the country to live with strangers, be virtually on her own to train to become a dancer. :wacko: Are we nuts?!?!

I admit I was hoping dd wouldn't like the school and would decide to come home after the summer. :blushing:

Isn't going to happen. :( She is loving every minute of her time at her SI. The teachers are exactly what she has been looking for. The style of dance, the classes, the studios, the dancers. She loves it there and is already making it her home.

I am begininng to pack up her room, make living arrangements, check into medical insurance and all the other things that it takes to move a child across country.

I never realized how difficult this was going to be. :crying:

Allowing my dd to move at 11? It never would have happened. Letting go at this age is difficult enough.

I was recently on vacation, in Hawaii, enjoying a beautiful day on the beach when I suddenly sat up, looked at my husband and told him I couldn't let her go..."who is going to teach her how to shop for groceries? What about eating healthy? What about taking a bus??? She has never even been on a bus!" I started to panic. My husband just looked at me as if I had completely lost it. It came out of left field. The doubt, the worry, the feelings of "is she really ready for this", is this really a possibility, this dream of hers? Are we wasting our time and money on something that is such a long shot? Am I willing to miss living with my daughter, sharing day to day experiences?

I still don't know for sure. I doubt I will know until she actually moves and does it.

A lot will depend on dd and how her summer goes. She is ready to stay, but, it is ultimately our (her parents) decision on whether, at 16, our little girl is mature and responsible enough to live without us.

I give credit to all of you who have gone before me. This is the toughest decision I have ever had to make.

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My DD left for a residence at 16, and my concerns were just the same. It, too, was her dream school, and I knew she had to go then, or the chance may not have come again. I never could have let her go earlier. Maybe she would have had more time to absorb the technique, apply her personal corrections and further advance her opportunities if she left for residency a year or two earlier, but the personal sacrifice would not have balanced out.


I have heard that a child has by the age of 13 has already instilled in him/her the value set that the parents have taught. This, however does not mean that a young child knows when to apply these values when faced with situations that they have never experienced before. Those are the times when a parent close at hand can help to guide decisions.


At sixteen, I knew she was going to do fine, and we spoke daily to maintain that closeness. If there is anything I would recommend, that would be the most important. Just a quick phone call, once a day, is a wonderful thing to keep aware of your DKs day to day routine, know who their friends are and what they do when not at dance, all in real time. If there are any issues, they can be discussed keeping that lifeline in place. I made this a condition of agreeing to the residency, and it worked wonderfully to keep her connected to her family and gave me peace of mind.

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This is a timely topic for our family, too, as DD will be going to residency for the first time this fall, at age 14. I couldn't agree more with Redstorm's statement that it all seems good until the decision is made, then reality smacks you in the face. Even now, it is hard for me, and the true reality hasn't hit, and won't until September. She is at her fourth SI now, and she does seem to handle being on her own well during SI's, but maybe year-round is different? For those of you who have children at residencies: how is it different and the same as having them away for SI? As with Redstorm, the thing that keeps me sane is hearing how eager she is to begin training at her new school (although, unlike Redstorm's DD, she is not at the same SI now as Y-R). We researched and visited as much as we could, then made the best decision we could, based on her gut feeling and ours (which matched, fortunately!) I do feel compelled to add that we repeat to her on a daily basis that this is a "one year at a time" thing, and she could very well be back home or somewhere else for a variety of reasons, after the 2007-08 academic year.

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While every DK's experience is uniquely different, these are a few differences that came up for our family that were different than an SI experience. First, going to a doctor on her own and knowing what were the right questions to ask. My daughter's school allows another student to accompany them but it is not the same as having your Mom in the room with you. Suggestion, cell phone or conference call will help with all the ?'s about the info that does not get passed on to you as a parent. Getting swollen,red pictures of ankles taking by a cell phone can be a bit worrisome if there is not good communication...

Another issue that is different than an SI is more indepth involvement with faculty and peers. It can be quite a "soap opera" so to speak and the best you can do is listen and realize this too shall pass.Boyfriend and Girlfriend relationships can be quite intense since they literally live together in a tight community...This too will pass. Yet you will miss the little nuances that help to determine if your child is in a good or bad relationship.Again , we expanded our cellphone plan after the first boyfriend experience.

Another is navigating academic demands that are different than what they are used to at home. (Example, printer ran out of ink-oops no extra -due tomorrow morning-lights out at 10pm!Yikes...Solution= get up extra early and find a friend who will let you print at dawn on their working printer.) Little things like this seem to arise but they add up to extra stress.

Another parent issue is your teen attending parties, sleep overs and social outings that may include older attendees or parents with a different set of values than your family has. While we have been fortunate through our experiences due to some very wonderful, watchful parents and faculty there is always an uncomfortable feeling of the unknown when you, the parent ,are far away from the weekend outing due to location.

Well,I'm sure my DD would have her own list of differences which I'll try to add later.

Also Redstorm, it will get easier as time passes :wub: ...

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She is at her fourth SI now, and she does seem to handle being on her own well during SI's, but maybe year-round is different? For those of you who have children at residencies: how is it different and the same as having them away for SI?


It is very different for the whole year. He is actually living away from home, in fact in a new home. During his summers away, he could concentrate just on dance. But during the academic year, it is balancing academics without a parent overseeing that the work is done. It is the call from him asking permission to go out on a Saturday night with some friends from the local public high school. I don't know those students and I don't know their parents. Is the driver a safe driver? How can I know? It is the junior prom he attended and I didn't get to see him before hr left or be sure he was safely home after the after prom party. What is he eating? Is he eating? Is the doctor who treated him for an ankle injury a good doctor?


And there is the rush to appointments when he is home for a week. One day the dentist, one day the orthodontist, one day his pediatrician for a physical. Or the eye doctor.


During the SI I ask him on the phone how classes are, is he learning, is he having fun? Moving away is very different. Whom are you seeing? Is she a nice girl? What are you doing in your limited spare time? Are you keeping up with all your academic obligations? How do you feel? Are you getting enough sleep?


An SI is 6 weeks away at a camp like setting where they work hard all day and have neat field trips on the weekends. Residency is the end of living home to work full time on pursuing a dream. Very different.

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I’ll second everything said by dancerdriver and Muck Luck.


I can add this: When our child left for residency, my husband and I were aware of a nearly constant ill-at-ease feeling about our child being gone. It seemed as though that emptiness would never go away, but after a couple months, we realized that it had nearly dissipated and we were enjoying the slower pace of our life...not least the lack of weekday driving. We had the time and focus to build a new family unit, and the attention that was once split between two was refocused...it was a gift.


School vacations are very brief—just enough time to run a zillion errands, shop, go to appointments—and when they’re over, there’s an element of grief and a couple days of feeling that an integral piece of our family is missing before we settle down again in our newly comfortable family unit. But those feelings are accompanied by simple happiness for our child and a quiet pride that our child is extremely happy, doing well, and growing up faster than we’d ever anticipated.


I’ve reminded myself that nearly every parent goes through this; we just got a bit less than 17 or so years we expected we’d have.


I’d say it’s absolutely worth it.


Residency is hard work, and demands more discipline, more maturity, and more effort than any of us imagined it would. My impression is that most kids rise to meet the challenge. As parents, we were uncomfortable about not knowing what was going on at school, in class, or at the dorm, but in a few short months realized that we could deeply trust our child to do what was right and find solutions when needed.

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Some additional thoughts regarding the difference between residency and an SI:


The intensity - both physical and emotional - is much greater during the year. If things aren't going well at an SI, there's only a few weeks left. When bumps in the road occur at residency - sometimes there's many months to go. The bumps do go away - they're part of life. But I can see it as being potentially overwhelming if it occurs on a particularly dramatic day. I've seen college students struggle with this - and these are kids 12 - 18.


I think the pressure to perform is far greater in the residency than in an SI - and I've seen it get to some kids. Many talented dancers go to SIs. Many of them aspire to dance professionally. But a lot of them (we know several) are dancing through high school and then knowingly going on with other, educational-related goals in life. The dancers that attend residencies (from what we've seen) are focused on dancing professionally; this is their one passion and goal in life. And they are all very, very talented and hard working. It raises the bar for everyone in the school; everyone must work harder to be better. This is certainly good, but can be detrimental if the kids don't know when to back off and acknowledge that their bodies are hurting and need to rest. Plus, while a residency is full of talented dancers, they are not the only talented dancers in existance. There are many more talented dancers that may not have decided to attend a residency. Yet. But every year there are more dancers that decide to make that leap - or need to in order to continue training. Maybe they want more trainig, maybe they are at the right age, whatever. The reality is that there are limited slots in any residency program. Just because you earned a spot one year doesn't mean you can't or won't get bumped the next year. Once the kids get to the residency, they have to work very, very hard - in all areas of their lives - to make sure they are allowed to stay as well as invited to return. This dynamic doesn't exist at an SI.


These are just things I've observed from the sidelines. Nothing has ever been said to me. My DS survived his first year and, though he admits it was probably the hardest thing he's ever done, is very proud of his achievement. He will return next year. Not everyone will. The reasons for not returning are varied. I'm not sure the kids ever realize actually what is going on - they just go and work very, very hard. They are remarkably supportive of each other.

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The main difference between having your son or daughter at an SI versus a residency or pre-pro is that there is a definite close end in sight to the SI. No matter how good or bad the experience is, it will end in 5 or 6 WEEKS, which is much different from the YEAR you see ahead of your child at a residency. When they leave to attend a year-round program, you know you probably won't see them until Thanksgiving (if then). You also may have made many arrangements that will be difficult to break - a school transfer, an apartment lease, a host family commitment, a scholarship commitment, etc. We had to pull our dd out of two different year-round programs mid-stream for mainly financial reasons over which we had no control. It is not fun, but if it's necessary, you do what you have to do. The emotional turmoil is great. Returning home is not always their choice, but the adjustment can be made in time. I feel if the opportunity arises for your child to train away from home, you discuss everything until you can't think anymore, and then just dive in and make a decision! As I've said before, there is no shame in you changing your mind or in them changing their minds. It might be difficult for your child to make the change to being home again if they have to, but that can be a growing experience, too. Hopefully, you won't have to go through what happened to us.


This fall will be the third year that my dd will be away from us at her pre-pro school. The financial timing finally worked out for us two years ago. Her maturity, both as a dancer and a person, grows every year. The phone calls become less and less frequent. You feel sad and proud all at once. Good luck to anyone who has a child about to take the plunge!



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One more thing: SIs don’t seem to be long enough or difficult enough (as others have said, they’re summer camp compared to residencies) for there to be a major shift from thinking that dancing professionally is what they want to do, but from what we’ve seen, residencies help many dancers make a determination fairly quickly about whether they want to dance professionally or not.


Other than those who eventually realize it’ll never be in the cards for them, my impression is there are many who realize fairly quickly that they’re not thrilled about having very little free time for other things after school, studying, dance classes, and rehearsals, and they determine that they want to do other things in life. And that’s fine, as long as parents realize that either possibility is quite high.


In my opinion, a residency isn’t just about creating a dancer, but also about offering an opportunity to become a broader, stronger, and more enlightened individual that ups their chances to succeed at whatever they attempt later in life. I think the long and arduous effort a residency student takes to become a dancer may well be as much or even more valuable than actually becoming one.

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