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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pulling dancers out of school


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I am already losing sleep over how we will manage getting DD (13 1/2) to ballet next year. We live in the suburbs and she dances downtown. Depending on traffic and the method of getting her to ballet, its between 45-90 minutes.


This year, we pick DD up at school, drive her to the train, and then she takes the train into the city, leaving around 10 minutes to get to class (the station is right next to the ballet school). The benefit is that we don't have to drive her all the way downtown like we did last year. The problem is that next year DD starts high school and the school day goes a full 30 minutes longer than her junior high school. This 30 minutes really puts a wrench in the commuting plans. She can't get the train she needs with this dismissal time or have time to stop at home to change clothes like she does this year.


I am contemplating trying to pull DD out of school early each day. She will have a study hall next year, so hopefully we can arrange for it to be last period. I am not sure how much of a battle I am up for with the school, though. I would imagine that they would be against me pulling her out every day, but maybe not.


Do others pull their dancers out of school before the end of the day? Was it difficult to get permission?


If we can't manage pulling her out early, we will be looking at driving her downtown each day, which also involves hanging out downtown waiting for her for 3 1/2 hours each night. It would also mean having to find child care for her little brother for this time.


If we can't make this work, we need to contemplate changing ballet schools - something that would kill DD and no doubt impact her current progress negatively.

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I know you PM'd me, but I want to say that getting early release shouldn't be a problem. Many kids leave for reasons other than dance; ice skating, jobs, just because. Especially if she was going to have a study hall and as a freshman she has a good reason, I don't think the public school really cares that much. The problem is driving into the city at that time of day. For us,without traffic its a 50-60 min drive, with traffic its a minmum of 1.5 to 2 hour drive in good weather. Add bad weather and rush hour and its even longer. So, DD takes the train on weekdays. If she chose early release at school, the car ride would be much different by avoiding the rush hour traffic. But DD wants to be in school and take a full load. She is very social and has a lot of friends, so she wants a full schedule. Many dancers from public schools have early release. One DD had an option of starting school earlier and leaving earlier. My DD didn't have that option. Check with your school now, they will be able to tell you and high school administration isn't as persnickety as middle school I found.

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DD is a sophomore and she has done this for two yrs successfully.


Individual school district policies differ. When I first inquired in 8th grade about pulling her out in her then-upcoming high school yrs. for daily ballet training, I was given an emphatic "no." I heard this three more times from three different people. Each time I heard "no, we don't allow that, especially for incoming freshmen." I thought -- surely I am not the first parent in this school's history to have been in this situation. So I kept asking - until I finally found the person several levels up who told me "well, we don't really advertise this, but we do make exceptions for some students." Exactly.


You have to make sure that you understand graduation requirements (we have to register DD for 2 summer classes a yr -- on top of SIs) in order to ensure that she has enough credits to graduate with her class.


If all else fails, there is obviously homeschooling and online school. That was not what we pursued, though it has worked well for many people in our situation.


It's not necessarily easy, but if you pursue this with your child's full commitment, it is possible to have a traditional high school experience and train early afternoons, if that is when training opportunities are available. Don't take your first no for an answer, though maybe you'll be lucky and be told yes right away.

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My 14 yo d's daily classes begin at 3pm. Classmates come from several different school districts. Some of her classmates get PE credit for dance and as such, can leave school early. As far as ease, it runs the gamut from schools that make it easy, schools that make it more difficult but still possible (allowing the early release and credit for gym but also requiring additional work such as papers) to schools that don't allow it at all. Schools with rotating block schedules are particularly cumbersome because the free period or PE period will be at different times depending on the schedule for that individual day.


We had a period of time when dd would change into a leotard and tights under her clothing after PE class. She would have a snack and do her hair in the car, arriving with less than 5 minutes to spare. They do what needs to be done. :)

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I agree, wholeheartedly, with mousling. I know of a serious ice skater who has early release and DD's counselor actually asked if she would like early release last year after I informed him of her crazy schedule. So, talking to the right person is key! Generally if they have 5 academic classes they are considered full time, so as her parent if you want to pull her out, that's your decision and you just have to fight for it.

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In Illinois, it is very difficult to get exempt from gym for activities outside of school. But, a family just recently went directly to the principal and they are considering exempting her from gym, they are still waiting for the decision. DD actually loves gym and asked me not to get her out of it. And this year she was able to take "dance" instead of gym in school. The dance class is extremely slow and boring according to DD and she may elect to go back to regular gym her junior year.

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  • 1 month later...

Just saw this post and wanted to say that I will probably have to negotiate with DD's school next year for leaving at lunchtime two days per week to attend the day school program offered at her ballet school. Luckily, DD's school have had other students from our ballet school previously, and also have other arrangements where children may need to be off campus such as vocational activities or elite sports. The key seems to have been to have open communication and also have a child who has a demonstrated strong work ethic (not usually hard to find in a ballet dancer). Kids might then be offered a study line instead of PE class but I can't see DD accepting that because she takes Dance in her PE line and isn't likely to give it up!

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My non-dancing son utilizes a tuition-free online academic program which is an educational extension overseen by our state department of education. Students must be approved to take courses which would otherwise be completed during their regular school attendance, and although typically the courses taken are within the student's determined schedule for the given academic year they are permitted to take extra classes with the intent to graduate early. All guidance is overseen/administered by the school.


It may be worthwhile to check with your state's department of education as to whether a similar program is available to your student(s).

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You could look into home schooling too. I found a day spent at school, tons of homework and multiple hours of dance didn't work for my ds. He now home schools with online programs, gets plenty of rest and dances every day. As a bonus his test scores on standardized tests have soared.

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Half the students in my dd's ballet class have early release from their schools, both public and private. Her best friend had her schedule rearranged so that she starts her classes at 7:30 and gets out at 1:30. Others have arranged to have their study hall during the last period of the day, and others simply get early release and credit for ballet classes. When my daughter was in a public charter high school program, she got early release. She took the classes she was released from, but had to leave them a half hour early. We had an arrangement with the teacher so that the teacher explained homework assignments earlier on in the class, so that my daughter would not miss out on that information. She also had a friend she would consult with on notes for the missed portion of classes. It was difficult, but doable. Now she does school via Independent Study, though, because we have a very long commute, and her ballet schedule is so intense, she just couldn't get all her work done otherwise. She's not the most organized and motivated academic student, though. Her friends at ballet who are motivated and organized academic students seem to do just fine going to regular school and attending a rigorous ballet program.

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I guess our county is different. We cannot use other activities to replace gym class at the high school level and I seriously doubt that as a freshman could get out on early release every day. I got grief when i wanted to sign out my daughter last period for a Dr's appointment because they dont want sign out students the hour prior to school ending. We do have early release for Juniors and Seniors but only if you are on track to graduate. All students have a study hall but it is always right before or after lunch so scheduling it last period isn't a possibility.

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An update on our situation--thank you for all your insights, which gave us hope!


We've had success for the remainder of the year, and it was surprisingly simple--switching study hall to the end of the day, and leaving early. But I've been told that this definitely won't work for 8th grade, due to block scheduling constraints that prevent an end-of-day study hall, so we will have to register DD as a homeschooler and have her attend middle school for 40% of her classes, in the mornings. The other 60% of core learning will be up to us, at home. Unfortunately (and surprisingly) our state does not have no-cost online learning, so we'll be figuring it out as we go along. It's an okay solution to get us through to high school, when dance classes will start later in the day!</p>

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It never occurred to me that a split schedule could be a possibility, so thanks for that food for thought! I am still looking into the possibilities for my DD. Glad you found a solution!

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ald71 - Glad you were able to work out your daughter's schedule. My daughter's public charter high school was arranged very much like you've described your daughter's schedule: some of her classes were at the high school, some at home. It worked very well for us at the time, and I wish her current ballet schedule would allow us to continue on in that way throughout high school. Good luck!

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  • 4 years later...

I figured I'd revive this thread as it must be very relevant for those making next year's training plans. My DD currently attends a public school that ends at 235 everyday, but is thinking about attending a very well regarded pre professional program that starts class at 2 on Wednesdays and Fridays. While getting early release seems to be difficult to begin with; the schedule rotates to further complicate things. There would be no way to put a study at the end of the day as it would be at the beginning of the day the next day. Does anyone have any experience with this? It seems like we will have to look into online school which is not ideal...

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