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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How do you make time for everything???


lorrainegd

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lorrainegd

I was wondering if parents of dancers who attend typical public HS could weigh in and let me know - how does your dk get everything done??? DD is in 8th grade and we have Cyber Schooled for the past 3 years in order to allow for her current ballet schedule. She approached me this week asking to attend public HS in the fall. She expressed her concern that she can only do HS once and does not want to feel like she has 'missed out'. I do not really have a problem with her going back to school BUT I do not know how we will fit it all in. The school bus comes at 7am and school is over at 2:30 (not sure when the bus would get her home). She typically has to leave for ballet at 4 (ballet school is 50 minutes away) and gets home around 10pm. My husband and I have told her that school and family will still outweigh ballet (of course she didn't like that) - she would have to make time for homework, chores and time with the rest of the family. And, to boot, now that she has opened this can of worms her brother also wants to go to public school in the fall (He will start MS) which throws another scheduling wrench on the works. At least I don't have to be out with her til 10 - I just drop her off & my husband brings her home. But now I feel like i can't deny my son going to school based on HER ballet needs. That doesn't seem fair to him. HELP! I really need advice and non-ballet friends just do NOT get it!

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Hi Lorraine, My dd is the same age as yours and we just went through the high school/home school/charter school decision making process, and it has not been easy! My dd is very outgoing, fun loving, etc. and really wanted to go to the regular public high school. However, we drive even farther than you do each way daily to her ballet school, and even though we get home an hour or so earlier than you do, and would leave for school later in the morning than you do, we made her make the tough choice between going to public high school OR continuing with pre-professional ballet school. The reason we made her choose is because I could already see the writing on the wall and that it would be difficult for her given her particular study habits (ahem) and personality to fit it all in and do well. I thought that, because of the long commute she would be too exhausted to get much homework done when she got home, and she would be exhausted at ballet from her long day at school plus homework and driving. She'd end up doing everything poorly!

 

We found a small charter high school that has flexible scheduling so that she can take some courses at the school, some courses online, and even some courses at the community college to meet her requirements. She'll at least have some community at her school, and she'll have time for the commute as well as time to get her work done. It is important to us that she also contribute to the family by getting chores done, and just spending time together as well. This seemed like the best solution. It also made her have to dig deep and evaluate what ballet really meant to her. In the end, she chose ballet and the charter school. She decided that if she changes her mind, she can go to the regular high school later.

 

We know some kids at the ballet school who commute the same distance you do, and they're able to get a lot of home work done in the car. Unfortunately, dd gets car sick when she tries to do work in the car, so that is not an option for us. For the kids who can do so, it changes the equation.

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lorraine -

 

What is your dd's schedule now? is she dancing during the day at all, or is she using the day for her academic program?

 

Is she the type to have boundless energy, or does she require time to recharge the batteries?

 

To be honest with you, I can't imagine someone of that age being out till 10 every night on the week nights, leaving home by 7 am, and having enough time and energy to do everything. I know my own kids wouldn't have lasted at age 14. One dd did have a similar kind of schedule for one year - her senior year - but that year was not overly heavy academically as she had taken one course during the summer to get it out of the way. My other daughter just simply would not have the stamina to have done the schedule you describe.

 

That said, we have had reports over the years of dancers managing with this kind of a schedule, so I know it has been done, I just worry about staying healthy in the long term with these hours.

 

all the best.

 

m2

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We too have considered the home-school option, but our 15 y.o. dd has always attended public school. She attends a well respected pre-pro program about 35 minutes from our home (50 minutes on the return due to traffic). In her case she dances between 2:15 and 6 during the week, and we have worked out her leaving 1 period early from school. Our school system allows for her to earn credit during that time under a gifted/talented intern-mentor program. Since she was little she has learned (with our help) how to organize herself to use her time efficiently. This means no TV during the week and using weekends to catch-up/get ahead and complete projects/papers. Her teachers area aware of her dance training and have generally been supportive (inviting them to performances helps).

The harder issue has been her being exposed to more choices that compete with dance (social opportunities), but that also provides her with the opportunity to clarify what her goals are and recognize that you can't do everything. Everyone's circumstances are different, but we are strong supporters of public education and recognize that depriving our daughter of that experience on the hope of a professional career in dance doesn't make sense. Good luck!

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Can she be released from PE and study hall, and maybe lunch also, and leave school early? That helps with getting homework done before dance. I know kids who have managed the schedule that you are talking about, with a normal day ending around 2:30 and then dance from 5-9 plus the time getting to and from. Even with an early release from school, it is not easy, especially if they are taking honors classes. It would depend on the individual child and the family. My DD does have early release, all honors classes, and a long commute. She has managed all A's and not many illnesses this year, with days that begin at 6:45 and end at 11:15 p.m. But it has been very tough.

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love to see you dance

MY DD is a HS freshman. Every year I have encouraged her to home school, but she wants to have what she calls " a normal experience". We luckily live close to her dance school, so don't have a long commute. Her classes end at 10p 3 nights a week. She does have a study hall for one period during the school day, and we will not allow her to get rid of it. She does as much work as possible in class. Most nights she is in bed by 11p. She dances with her school dance group and has 1-2 hours of rehearsal after school 5 months out of the school year. Although there are times she is tired, she wouldn't have it any other way. Her teachers are good when she misses class for Nutcracker and other performances, some will allow her additional time or will substitute a different assignment that can more easily be done at home. We encourage her to get her assignments at the beginning of the week and do as much as possible as soon as possible so she isn't stressed out later. We don't know what the future will hold for our dancer, and DD does not want to feel like she has given up everything for an uncertain future. At the very least she is learning valuable time management skills and has an understanding of what it's like to juggle a multitude of expectations and time demands

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My DD's strategy seems similar to most posted here. She is in public school, 7th grade, a really excellent school district, and dances at a pre-pro school 5 days/week. We are lucky we live only 10 mins away from the studio. Home schooling is not an option for us, for many reasons.

 

She did have to give up band in order to have study halls--this allows her to get most, if not all homework, done in school. We also have a no TV no computer rule for weekdays, that helps. As others have said, the biggest issue (for now) is that dance competes with social events with school friends, but she is so tight with her dance friends that this has not been too much of an issue.

 

I anticipate that this happy balance will collapse in high school, in which the academics are much more demanding, and need for socialization is greater. Good luck to all trying to navigate that path. I agree with the last post--time management skills are certainly learned by students who dance and go to public/private school. I have observed that most of her dance friends, even those with very heavy dance schedules, manage to make school work and achieve a balance somehow.

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Twinkle Mom

My DD also attends public high school. She is a junior with a huge workload. It was a little better fall semester, when she was allowed PE credit for dance (long story, but it took me two years to arrange) and could leave a little earlier. She does homework in class when time is allowed, at lunch, in the car to and from the dance studio, (a 35-45 minute drive from our home), and after we get home. She also spends literally all day Sunday working ahead as much as possible and studying. It has been very difficult for her this spring due to AP testing, an even bigger workload, and the longer school day. She has had to miss dance class a few times this spring, which she deplores, but there are only so many hours in the day, and she won't compromise on her standards for her schoolwork. I have offered numerous times to home school her, to no avail. She does, occasionally, lament the lack of time to get together with her best friend, who does not go to the same school. It isn't easy, but both school and dance are important to her, so she somehow manages to make it work.

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Our family is dealing with a similar situation. My DD is in 7th grade and attends a pre-professional school six days per week which is a 1 hour and 20 minute commute each way. This year we arranged for her to take ballet as an independent study course through the gifted and talented program at the public school. This allows her to leave school one hour early each day. Since I work full-time, she then boards a university shuttle bus at 2:30PM which takes her to a satellite campus in the city where the pre-professional program is located. My husband, who happens to commute to that city for work each day, picks her up from the bus and takes her to the studio. He returns to work, and then picks her up after class and drives home. They generally get home a 8:30PM every night and we have a family meal around 8:45. In addition, two nights a week, she attends classes at a local dance studio in town after she gets back. Although these additional classes add an extra element of craziness to our schedule, we view them as her opportunity to have a social outlet as well as a connection to our community. Although this year has not been that demanding from a homework standpoint, she has really had to work hard to organize and develop exceptional time management skills, scheduling time for large projects (such as making visual aides for reports) on the weekend. The bus she rides is very quiet (just faculty members and college students) and it has flip down tables which does make it fairly easy to do homework. We have managed the schedule this year (DD couldn't be happier), but I really am concerned about how this is going to work as she gets older and her academic classes become more challenging. Right now she wakes up at 6:30AM and get to bed between 9:30 or 10:30PM depending on the day. Good luck in your decision-making process!

 

I have been lurking and learning volumes on this site for quite some time now, but this topic encouraged me to finally post!

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I encourage you to research your school's position on the subject so that you and your DD will both know going into the year how flexible they will be. As our DS approached 9th grade, we had plans for him to leave early every other day during resource/study hall (block scheduling) and get to class. The other days he would do a different dance schedule. The county decided to reorganize the students' schedule so that 9th graders had that "subject" 2nd block - and they were very firm that leaving early was not an option until he was a junior. They were completely inflexible. Other parents worked hard to fight the county but to no avail. Because we have a later start for high school - 8:30 start and 4:00 pm dismissal - this left us with a choice of ballet or high school (dance started at 3 pm). DS home schooled a year then went to residency. He came back on weekends to connect with his friends. That lasted a while but he has finally drifted away from most of them as they have went to college and he has drifted around the world. We have another child entering high school this fall and are excited about everything that is happening. We asked DS if he regretted his decision. He admitted that the first year was very isolating and difficult but overall he said the answer was "no." It was hard to miss some of those things at the time, but his path has been fairly rewarding, and most of his friends, now in college, envy the opportunities DS has had - surprising since they were so critical 4 or 5 years ago. In his situation, public high school would not work. One other quick thought - another element we had not considered and now know about were the group projects that many of his classmates had to engage in several times a semester - often meeting several times a week after school and weekends. He wouldn't have been able to make these either.

 

That said, a neighboring county was very flexible with students and allowed them to leave school an hour early to accommodate dance. They worked the dance into the students' curriculum. School started much, much earlier - like 6:30 am - and they were out by 2:00 pm. Many dancers had a longer - say one hour - commute to dance. Many of the studio's dancers were able to do IB programs in public high school - or in some cases were enrolled in very rigourous private prep schools - and dance until graduation. I provide this information not as "hearsay" but to show how very diverse the two counties are in their approach to education. Since most of DS' studio-mates were from this county, we naively assumed for years that our county would be just as cooperative. So it was a big surprise for us when we tried to make it all work out.

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My 15yr dd attends HS & a pre pro school 6 nights a wk. This yr dd commutes 1 hr each way to nyc via the train Mon thru Sat. She is up at 6:45am, walks to school at 7:30am everyday. She has a study hall, which she uses for test prep/hw, her lunch period, she studies/does hw during her commute and when she gets home, which is between 9 & 10:15pm every night. 9th grade was difficult, it was a transition yr & schoolwork increased significantly, but she managed. We have a deal…school comes first & if she slacks off then I will pull ballet. DD didn’t believe me at one point in 9th grade I refused to drive her to ballet for a few days, she then realized I meant business & she has managed to maintain the ballet schedule, have somewhat of a minimal social life w/HS friends & stay on the honor roll since then. Rehearsal time is a little more stressful. I do allow her to stay home from HS every now & then if she feels she is getting behind in school & needs to catch up or if she feels she is purely exhausted. We call it a “mental health day”. During school breaks dd is expected to help out around the house but during the school yr her main responsibility is to keep her room clean and focus on her priorities.

 

DD loves HS and has some supportive HS friends who understand she can’t hangout much, but when she can hang, she is always welcome. She also feels that some of her ballet mates, who are homeschooled, seem a bit lonely. I don’t believe in putting all your eggs into one basket. In my opinion I do not feel it is worth it to miss out on the HS experience just for the glimmer of hope that one will become a professional ballet dancer, especially in this economy where ballet and the arts are clearly struggling to survive. Everyone’s situation is different of course.

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Cheetah made some very important points. Another factor that went into our decision to send dd to the small charter school was that the regular public high school does not allow early release time for Freshmen and Sophomores. She would have gotten out of school at 3:15 which would have (barely) worked for her Freshman year, and will not work at all for her Sophomore year. Also, P.E. and Study Hall are non-negotiable requirements at the regular high school. At the charter school, ballet will count for her P.E. credits. And, if she does some additional work, papers, projects, etc., she may be able to get performing arts credit for ballet as well. If she chooses to go to the regular public high school in later years, she'll have to take P.E. at that time, since they won't accept ballet for P.E. credit.

 

Most of the kids at dd's ballet school who home school do so through organized programs so that they at least have some classes and contact with other high school kids outside of ballet. Does your dd have that kind of an option, Lorraine?

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vivaballet

My dd was missing her public school this year and we found a nice hybrid option. She will take 3 classes 3 mornings a week in a private school (set up like a university), go to dance (where they have desks after and can home school after class and before evening classes), then take 2 online classes. There are more and more "hybrid" schools popping up because so many want flexibility (depends on your state). We found this to be a good solution that allows for socializing with friends outside of ballet; a teacher in a classroom; but still allows her the flexibility she wants to pursue dance. The school is accredited and she is working already on high school courses even though she will only be an 8th grader. She has not decided about high school yet, but with all the cuts to education, I am going to encourage her to continue with this hybrid path. It is cheaper then a private school, but about on par with online schools. There are no perfect solutions but I do think the less stress the better.

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The loneliness was the biggest problem for our DS - thus our decision to let him go away. However, he went on scholarship - we honestly could not have afforded the tuition, room and board ourselves. Even if we could, I'm not sure we would have been willing to sacrifice for the level of academics he received. Our DS is very social and needs the interaction. I would have liked for him to attend regular high school and enjoy everything it had to offer. I'm glad he says he didn't miss it, but I still wonder. I know that he is doing quite well ballet-wise right now and would have never had the opportunities he's had if he had stayed in high school. Life is a series of choices. When we started dance we thought it would be a way to get a scholarship for college. Turns out our DS had not interest in college. Actually no interest in any academic endeavor. For him, even without the scheduling issues of getting to dance, he has never had the focus and dedication to school work that many of his friends had (mostly girls) and could not have managed the schedule.

 

One other item I thought about - something that caused us problems when he WAS in public schools - was the differences in school holidays. His school was one county and studio was in another. The holidays, including spring break, teacher workdays, etc., were often very different. Performances were scheduled around the other county's holidays. So that week of spring break - when the other students had off so weren't bothered by long rehearsals, DS still had to go to school. This happened once or twice around Nutcracker time, too. There were also additional rehearsals scheduled on several teacher workdays. Except DS had to go to school. There was actually some conflict over that - but it was out of our control. Hopefully that won't be a problem for you - but at least it's something to think about before hand and have an idea about how you would handle it!

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kiwiwdancer

Thanks, lorrainegd, for bringing this topic up. We are grappling with a very similiar scenario. Although DD already goes to public middle school and will enter high school this fall. DD has realized that she needs more and we are trying to decide where to get that training she craves. We are also looking at 45 min to one hour minimum each way daily drives, giving up the jazz/ tap she has so much fun with and then also giving up school extras, like band etc. Also have the younger child to factor in and DH works crazy hours, so I am mostly on my own for the after school carting around. And there's no guarantee DD's dream will pan out. Guess it is the nature of the beast.

 

Everyone's input here is so valuable to us as we make thses decisions...Thank you!

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