Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Frustrations and Scheduling for HS


Recommended Posts


I am hoping some more experienced parents and moderators can provide some insight here. My DD is 14 and a sophomore this year in high school. She is experiencing several new challenges this year and perhaps it is common for students of this age and it will blow over. First of all, academics have stepped up this year and she has an average of 2 hours of homework per night even with a daily study hall. Her daily schedule is: up at 6:15, leaves for school at 7:00, home from school at 3:30 unless I pick her up which I can only do on a limited basis. Two days a week she leaves for dance at 3:50 and returns home at 7:30'ish. The other two week days she leaves for dance at 5:15 and returns home at 9-9:30 depending. So when she gets home she still needs to eat, shower and do homework. Doing homework in the car is difficult for her as she gets motion sickness but she does try but I don't think it is very effective. She told me and I can sense it that when she knows she has lots of homework waiting at home she can't enjoy or really concentrate in class because that is nagging at her the whole time. Fast forward to last night on the ride home and she is telling me how her Wednesday teacher gives the exact same class every week, same music etc, same corrections to the class. She is frustrated by the lack of perceived interest on the part of this teacher. And frankly I've observed these classes and sense a lack of teaching passion here- as do other parents. It is her only dedicated pointe class. She has another teacher on Mondays that none of the girls like his teaching style and some have even dropped the class. She describes his style as not making sense- ie: combinations put together in a way that doesn't work with the music and so forth ( I really don't get what she means but other girls have complained of the same thing). Her other teacher, who is AD, she has for her three other days and likes her and the classes. Top it all off with how much she loved her SI this summer and the training/teaching she received there and she is unhappy at best comparing the two. She is also feeling very worried/frustrated that she is continuing to fall behind other girls her age due to a general lack of hours and intensity. She dances 5 days a week with 1.5 hours of technique + variations one day, 1 hour pointe another and a "workshop" on another that is a 6 week course in alternative styles (modern, jazz etc. that rotates). She then has several hours of Nutcracker rehearsal that will start this weekend.


So there are many issues here to deal with- difficulty managing school work, two classes she isn't so fond of and not enough hours of dance to continue to progress for her age. I know other parents go through this with their children but how do you help. I am trying to help her learn to manage her time better although she seems to do all the suggestions I come up with, there simply aren't enough hours in the day! As far as the teaching issues, I listen patiently because sometimes teenagers just need to get it off their chest but I seriously feel like this is starting to effect how she is doing in class. She is at the only pre-pro school in the area that offers enough classes and level of training so changing schools is not an option locally. I don't feel it is appropriate to speak with the AD about the other two teachers as she hired them and must be aware of their teaching styles, not to mention it can't be remedied this year anyway.


Sorry for the long post but this has been simmering for three weeks now and I thought it would work itself out but seems to be only getting worse.

Link to comment

Once they get stressed in one area, it always seems to carry over to another area. Makes for one big old stressful group situation! I would encourage you to help her tackle one issue at a time, if possible, and just let the other ride for a moment. That doesn't mean let it go away, but just for a week or two, deal with one situation.


It is just about the time in the school year that they have stopped doing any review of prior learning and they are into the new information full force. That is the time that the kids begin to see what this year will really be like. It's becomes stressful right about then usually.


I'd suggest that she take a deep breath on the issues at dance, she may have to make a mental determination to do so and check herself, but at least for a week or two try to just go to dance and dance as dance is. For those two weeks don't get into any "complain sessions" with the other girls about the teachers/class. Just deal with the part of "her plate" that she has made determination to deal with. Then take this two weeks (or even one) to concentrate on getting her sophomore year under her belt of organization and control. Once she has that under a bit of control, then re-visit what about dance is bothering her and if there are any things she can do to put some stability into the issues she has there.


One thing at a time. It won't affect her long term to take two weeks and just dance in dance class without putting any judgement on class itself. When they get busy in school they very quickly determine what is worth their time. And it frustrates them to take a dance class they feel isn't productive. They just want productive minutes. Otherwise, they know they could be studying. They feel the same way when a teacher gives busy work and they know that having to do it is going to stress the night dancing.


Sounds like she needs to learn to compartmentalize dance and studying into their own places as much as possible. And realize that a day off of dancing to catch up on schoolwork isn't the end of the world. It may not be the optimal thing to do, but it isn't the end of the world, or the career chance.

Link to comment

My DD had a schedule that pretty much went like your daughter's except that she typically did not get home any weekday evening until 9:30 p.m. and never had a study hall. My non-dd keeps a schedule pretty much the same, although she gets home at 8:00 p.m. every evening and also does not have a study hall. They both took honors and AP classes. they both also had commitments on Saturdays for their dance, non-dance activity.


Their biggest 'secret' to success was/is to do a good portion of their homework ahead over the weekends. They have both said that their teachers give out a syllabus or whatever, so that it is pretty easy for them to know what will be the homework or due for the next week. A few classes, like math, must be done more daily. But they are able to accomplish the day-to-day stuff that must be done only daily and still get to bed by 10:30 or so. They both have friends who complain much more about time management who have a great deal more 'free' time. But those kids rarely use the weekends for homework and typically put everything off until it is the last minute.


When dd and non-dd have papers to write, they plan ahead and typically have them written well ahead of schedule. If they have to present something in class, they usually volunteer to go first.


Perhaps suggest to your DD to review how she allocates her time for homework and how she uses her weekends. It is possible to dance and still do well in school, but it definitely is a lesson in time management.


As far as the repetitive Wednesday class, maybe she could take a different viewpoint on it. Perhaps instead of looking at is non-challenging, she could look at it as a class where because she knows what is coming in terms of the content that she could really focus on preciseness and really getting the nuances of clean technique for those exercises and skills. She could look at it as a reprieve for her brain such that it doesn't require as much mental energy and let it be a time to mentally relax, but really concentrate on the muscle memory aspects.


I agree with Momof3darlings, see if she can give herself a 2-week moratorium on the complaint sessions with her friends.

Link to comment

Excellent advice from momof3 and dancemaven. My dd is now a freshman dance major and I can't say I am missing any of the back to school craziness I experienced the last 8+ years. Every kid is different, but I know that when my dd got into the totally overwhelmed mindset the best remedy was a day off. As momof3 said, a day off here and there is not going to make or break her. My experience has been that even one day off was enough to put everything into perspective and she was then able to regroup and get into her "time management" mode. Her goal has always been to be a dancer, but she was never interested in going away to a pre-pro program. She took AP/Honors classes and she participated in some afterschool activities at our public high school. I think she could have done a bit better academically, but she finished in the top third of her class and had what she called a "normal" high school experience. So, I guess it's also important to keep the ultimate goal in mind when trying to juggle....does she want to pursue dance or is dance a significant "extracurricular"--as a sophomore it is time to decide that anyway. Most dk's are perfectionists and it is hard for them not to totally commit to everything, but as said before, there are only so many hours in a day.

As momof3 said, this is the time of year that reality sets in. This happened with my dd, and also my soccer playing son. Once they learned the expectations of their classes things settled into the normal state of chaos! I can't emphasize enough the value of just one night off---we all need a "mental health day" once in awhile!

Link to comment

I'm sorry you're going through all this. Reading your post gave me flashbacks and I think it's as hard on a parent as it is on your child. I would like to second the suggestion to work ahead on the weekends. It's a good habit and it makes weekday life much more relaxing. My dd explained her situation to her school teachers and most of them were quite willing to work with her to help her manage her schedule. We had it a bit easier as my dd was able to do homework in the car - I just learned to drive at night with the interior light on. One of my other daughters was not so fortunate and she tried to plan ahead so she was using flash cards in the car - it didn't seem to bother her when her focus could shift from the card to the road at short intervals. Flash cards are great for language classes, history, science terms etc. and she actually got a lot of studying done. One thing you may want to do is have your daughter make a plan in the car so that when she gets out to go to dance, she knows exactly what she's going to do when she gets home and isn't wasting time getting organized. I think some of the stress comes from being in dance class knowing you have lots of work and breaking the work down might make it more manageable. We also had dinner in the car when dd had projects so she could use her car time for eating and organizing and home time for focused work and projects.


Finally, while it's not a good idea to give up the one dedicated pointe class on a regular basis, if a child misses a class on an occasional basis, it won't be the end of her career. Just knowing it's an option midweek if she's gotten overwhelmed might make it easier to cope.


Best of luck.

Link to comment

DD had a very demanding sophmore year (last year) as well. Your DD's day sounds a lot like hers was, although we live close to the school so she would get home sooner. She had a lot of homework as well...it was a real struggle to get everything done and get adequate sleep! I have to confess that by the end of the year she had acquired some night owl tendencies. By Friday she was exhausted, and when she got home, would lay down for a snooze. Her dance classes were later on Friday, so she could cop an hours nap before she had to get ready.


There was one other day during the week that dance classes were later. Instead of coming home, on that day she would go to the school's study center. She found that a more distraction free environment to focus and get more done in a short amount of time. Plus she could get help with tough subjects (math) so that she would spend less time struggling with the assignment at hand. On these days she did learn to be a bit of a quick change artist in the back of my vehicle, enroute to the studio.


In terms of ballet classes, she didn't have the issues your DD does, she loved all of them. But we did find that we needed to cut back on one class in another discipline, just to make another hour available for homework on that day.


DD loves her nondance friends and struggled to find time with them last year. Our company has a nice schedule of smaller performances, beyond the Nut and the spring ballet. So there were lots of Friday and Saturday nites she was performing. Sundays were consistently relegated - the entire day - to catching up and working ahead on school assignments. On non performance weekends, how much she could socialize was dependent on assignment load. She usually had some kind of rehearsal or class Sat am thru early afternoon. During heavy homework times she would pioritize and spend time with friends on either Friday night or Saturday afternoon/evening, but not both. She learned the necessity of doing at least a little homework on Friday nites. She loves Saturday nite sleepovers with her buds, but knows that she may not be arriving as early that afternoon, and may be going home a little earlier the next day. Some "friends" made snide comments and she learned to have a bit of a thick skin to them. On the other hand, she found out who her real friends were, and these are the ones who have continued to cheer her on, and DD learned the value of taking a bit of time out to go to their events and honor their successes. Lots of learning last year!


It was not an easy year, school and homework wise. She had been high honors thru middle school and freshman year, but maintaining that was simply impossible with her dance class, rehearsal and performance schedule. But she did maintain honors grades in all but one quarter, and missed on that quarter by only a few points in one subject. I was a straight A student all the way thru, but never had the opportunity for the experiences she is having. Grades aren't everything. I look back at my experience in high school, where my academic success was the main thing I had going. Well that's great. But there were times it felt pretty dry. So here is my daughter, enjoying all these wonderful performance activities, loving them - this is where her heart is. Do I tell her to subtract from that to maintain the straight A's?? Sorry - no way! Yes I wanted her to keep a solid average, but not at the expense of the joy that performing is for her. I worked to help her find a proper balance. It was not necessarily easy, at any time!


Sophmore = "wise fool". This will not be an easy year, but you will come thru with both joy and successes, many lessons learned, priorities clarified. DD and I spent this past summer after the sophmore year just enjoying our respective passions. For her, in this order, it was dance, sleep (as long as possible), go to the beach with friends, then dance again.... We both were not looking forward to the return to the grind of the school year. But already I see where the strategies that we both learned last year are making life run a bit smoother this year. She is highly motivated to manage her time as wisely as she can.


She is also highly motivated on getting enough practice driving hours in, to get her license, and be able to drive herself to dance. (God help me - I'm not ready for that one!)

Link to comment

Let's see...how *did* my dd cope for the last few years with H.S. and ballet?? (She is now a HS senior.) She definitely has rode through some tough times with very demanding academics and a busy ballet schedule, with very little sleep at times. But just remind yourself that "this too shall pass." I honestly believe our sons & daughters are tougher than we think and they will pleasantly surprise us in the end.


But a couple of other factors has made a difference in getting her through these past few years of H.S.:


H.S. block schedule: This has been a life-saver, as well as an important tool for learning and, I for one, believe all U.S. high schools should adopt. Dd's HS has blocks A-G (up to 7 classes) as part of their weekly schedule. But Mon, Tue, Thur and Fri are "block" days where they attend about 1/2 of their classes each day, alternating between blocks A-D and E-G in which classes are 90 minutes long -- more time to delve more deeply into each subject, more time to have longer class discussions, etc. Wed is when they have all 7 class periods. But, the point of this is dd generally has 2 days to complete homework in each class bec. they meet mostly every other day. Big stress relief right there.


Dd's ballet school is a good pre-pro school with a reputation for sending students to company trainee programs, big-name (and small) SI programs, etc. However, even at the highest level, the ballet school gives the students one day off during the week. Again, another stress relief. Dd has Thursdays off from ballet and it has helped tremendously. (She has ballet Mon-Sat with Thurs off.) Of course there's always extra workshops, rehearsals, etc. on Saturdays, making it a long day. I really think all pre-pro ballet schools should consider working one "off day" during the week into their schedule, esp. for middle school & HS students. From my observations, at least at dd's pre-pro school, it hasn't hurt the students in their training, and if anything, most are doing quite well and progressing nicely. (And maybe it's because they're a tiny bit less stressed with school bec. of that one weekday off?)


But dd is now going thru one of the most busy times in HS with rigorous academics (bec. unfortunately most colleges expect HS students to continue to take challenging courses -- no slacking in senior year like the old days :-( ), completing college apps, essays, supplemental essays, researching schools to see where to apply, and...of course ballet!


But, I keep on telling myself (on a daily basis right now until dd turns in her college apps, hopefully on time) that "this too shall pass." :-)


Good luck everyone!

Link to comment

I am overwhelmed by the wise responses to my meandering post! I actually have two older daughters- one in college and the other a senior, so I feel like an experienced high school mom. However, as we all know our kids are all so different. My other two made it through or are in the process with little to no difficulty managing time. And believe me, my senior has always had an over full plate. I had been waiting for the first few weeks of school to pass hoping for improvement for DD but none was apparent. Still, I truly think things will settle out or she will feel less stressed as time goes by. Her grades are great and she takes a couple of honors courses but truthful I did limit the number of those this year with the overload thoughts foremost in my mind. Also having one daughter who followed basically the same academic route as DD I know she will do fine with college as the other daughter who is taking 5 college course her senior year. Different strokes....


She had an imposed day off yesterday due to a doctor's appointment and she seemed so much more relaxed- talk about timing! I am in total agreement about the occasional day and will follow that wise advise. Her workshop class comes to mind as the most expandable. Her day off for the week is Friday which is nice but she laments that a day off mid week would really be more helpful and I agree.


I think some of the repetitive dance class frustration came from her own private frustration with trying to accomplish 32 fouttes one night in that class and only managing 28. Mind you, 16 had been her previous accomplishment. But she was upset because she was traveling and the teacher gave no corrections- did she ask- no- so my advise ASK FOR HELP!! But the point is little things like that can set off an entire complaint session when it may just be her own personal frustrations over a perceived failure. This is a kid who is also very focused on her falling behind her peers in the larger pool of dancers out there. She sees at SI's that her more limited training is starting to cause this and knows that her home school is a remedy for this so classes where she doesn't feel she is gaining at all are particularly frustrating. But as mentioned I will try to focus her on one thing at a time. There are only so many tings you have control over and the available classes to her is not one those things right now.


We had some talk time in the car yesterday where I ventured some gentle suggestions. She is the type to flat out refuse or ignore suggestions but later incorporate them into her life so I put them out there and see what happens. She, of our three daughters, is the most volatile teenager in the family, so just when as a parent you think you've made it through the tough times the most challenging one comes along- never easy being a parent! I know she will make it through this and gain much from the struggles but I hate to watch the struggles.


Unfortunately, our school/state ed department is extremely strict with standards and requirements and there is little to no lieu way to work with here. I accept that and have to work within the system no matter how unforgiving it seems. Block scheduling would be a dream come true for us and PE credits for dance as well- but not going to happen. We are putting more thought into residential programs for next year if that could be possible and that discussion seemed to visibly lighten her mood. However I realize that isn't the answer to everything but is something to think about.


Thank you everyone so much, because just reading your thoughts and experienced suggestions, while I may already know them just brings more conviction to my own thougths and that I am on the right path.

Link to comment

It's hard, too, when "real life" returns for these kids -- the SIs are magical places, where all you have to do is dance, dance, dance every day, then when you get back to your dorm, it's not the huge homework deadlines. Although my dd did have to take summer homework to her SI, it was a lot different when it was *her* deadline to get things done, not the teacher's...or her mother's. I have a HS sophomore, too and I think that part of the problem at *my* house is that I can see the bigger schedule (i.e. "you're committed 9 - 5:30 this Saturday and still want to do Homecoming...that's fine...but when are you going to study for your AP Euro test?) while she is managing all that, PLUS the HS drama (did I mention it's homecoming :lol: ?) It's a lot for these kids, who tend to have the highest expectations for themselves (you fouette story comes to mind...).


We've also had a policy for a few years in our house that an occasional too much homework/mental health night is okay. She, too has had teachers whose classes didn't amaze her, but we made sure the "homework" nights didn't occur in a pattern. Sometimes she would stay for technique only, and leave before the pointe class.


Hang in there!

Link to comment

My DD had a similar 4 years at a very academic high school. Left home at 6:30 each morning, got back at 10:30 each night right through senior year. Nasty schedule! Long commute to ballet and stress over not having "the best" dance education locally. Today, a year after graduation, neither she nor us (family) would do it differently. It was often stressful, sometimes insane, but keeping her home and surviving it was well worth it.


Her hints - Carry homework with you CONSTANTLY. Do it at lunch, between classes, in your easier classes when you don't have to pay attention. Look for alternatives to the dance class she doesn't like. Hmmm, maybe a school commitment can make her just a little too late for that class, but just in time for a slightly later in the evening class at a lower level with a better teacher, "just for this semester?" Or perhaps the following day's academic class schedule is just "so tough" that she needs to attend a slightly earlier class with a different teacher, again, "just for this semester"? When something alterable, like a crummy dance teacher, has a negative effect on a kid, that can be the one straw that sends the whole house smashing down. Be creative in solving that problem, and it might totally change your life.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...