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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How do you decide whether to do online school to allow more time for d


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My DD is 11 1/2. While she took ballet (and other types of dance) when she was much younger, I consider her to have only started "serious" ballet training shortly before her 10th birthday. She's averaged 4-5 90 min. to 2 hour ballet classes over the last 2 years and her teacher told me she thought she would be ready to start pointe in about a month. In school DD would be starting middle school (6th grade) in Fall 2013. Currently, she gets home 4 nights a week at 8:30-9 PM. She is now cognizant of "online" school programs such as Keystone and K12 because she knows girls ages 14 and older who do this at her school. Now she wants to do online schooling in the Fall and spend more hours training. Her Dad and I are considering it because she loves ballet, she is very into the arts overall and has shown some potential, but what if she decides she wants to change course at age 15-16 and go to college? Would she be behind the ball academically? Or what if 3 years down the road an AD tells her she can never be a ballet dancer? Just not sure what to do. I don't think she can do 8 hours of school plus 3 hours of ballet every day, plus 2 hours of homework. I think she would be ok if she did the online schooling and decided to go back to school full time in 9th grade and aren't the years from ages 12-15 key years in progressing in ballet? One of her instructors subtly discouraged me from her doing other dance forms right now other than ballet (and character)--she said she'll have time for other dance forms later, but she has to do the ballet now. On the other hand, I feel a bit guilty about her missing out on her daily school routine with her friends.

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Lovedance,

We are blessed to have an option in our area when our daughter was your dd age. Starting in her sixth grade year we found a local conservatory program that has 1/2 day academics and the other half day ballet! Many wondered how they could get a full day of school done in just half a day but the kids there are mainly all dancers(a couple of other students had other similar issues). The kids all want to be there so they get the work done.

Many of our friends were concerned since this program isn't accredited with the state and were concerned for the academic direction if she decided dance wasn't for her.

Fast forward 6 yrs later, our dd will graduate a full year early since she pushed herself and completed the core curriculum along with every optional academic class she could, was offered a presidental scholarship to a very selective college and is currently waiting to hear back on ballet auditions to a few college programs. She has decided if she gets in to them, that is great otherwise she will go off to college (as a 17yr old) and study pre-med!

These dancing kids are not like average children, they are highly driven and superior multi taskers. After last years SI she came home and told me of all the girls she hears about quitting school for dance and how worried she is about their futures. I know for her that was never an option.

So the answer is look around, you may be surprised what you find.

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Lovedance, your charge as a parent is to raise a productive, intelligent, respectful citizen. It is not your charge to raise a dancer. Your DD is quite young to be putting all her eggs in one basket. It is one thing for her to concentrate on dance to the exclusion of all other extracurricular. It is quite another for her to concentrate on dance to the exclusion of her social maturation and academic maturation. Think carefully about what else is learned while attending a bricks-and-mortar academic school with peers of varying interests, politics, socio-economic situations, etc. Think carefully about the extent of socializing and maturing your DD will give up if she restricts herself to an online, cyber education and the small circle of a dance studio.

 

Online academic programs can be helpful. They can be good academically, but they can also be a poor substitute for socialization, getting along with others, working within a framework of a group dynamic, navigating such, etc.

 

My daughters have both experienced online academics. They found them quite easy in terms of working around their crazy schedules, but, when they are being really candid, they both have said the courses were quite easy (APs included) and really didn't challenge them. My DD finished her last two years of high school in one year via online high school. Her younger sister thought that was so cool that she wanted to do her whole high school that way. We said 'no', but she did take one class online. After that, she said she'd rather not do those. Too boring. I know there are other students for whom the online options worked out well and they felt they were quite academically rigorous. So, it's definitely one of those 'your mileage may differ'.

 

But, ultimately, I would approach your dilemma as one of 'what will give my DD the best opportunity to grow into a responsible, socially-adept, mature, respectful and understanding citizen' rather than 'how do I raise a dancer in case that's what she ultimately decides she wants to be'.

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Dancemaven you could not have put that more beautifully!! I think it is easy to forget that we are raising more than dancers here!

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Lovedance, your charge as a parent is to raise a productive, intelligent, respectful citizen. It is not your charge to raise a dancer. Your DD is quite young to be putting all her eggs in one basket. It is one thing for her to concentrate on dance to the exclusion of all other extracurricular. It is quite another for her to concentrate on dance to the exclusion of her social maturation and academic maturation.

 

:clapping: :clapping: :clapping: Thank you dancemaven for your very wise words!

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Our family has taken a "year-by-year" approach to DD's schooling-ballet balance since 7th grade, with the mindset being that public school is our preference (we have another, younger, non-dancing child who also needs our love, attention and scheduling creativity :)). That year, we were able to arrange early dismissal for dance by scheduling a study hall for the last part of the day. The school thought the dance experience was wonderful and a novelty and actually encouraged us. (We live in a very "sporty" area where the arts get little attention and even less funding.)

 

In 8th grade, we did partial homeschooling because the school's "block scheduling" approach would not allow for early dismissal. :wallbash: Our state allowed her to take up to 40 percent of core academics and unlimited electives at public school, with the remainder at home. The school was very helpful in arranging those core classes for the morning, so I can work part-time, get DD from school, homeschool her, get younger DD from her school, and then head to the studio. We've tried both our home homeschooling curriculum as well as K12, and find that the online program (while dull as dirt) helps us keep to a calendar. I think I'm more exhausted than she is, even with all that schooling and dancing!

 

Now that DD is entering 9th grade and starting that scheduling process, we've encountered a lot more resistance...but we feel that an "official" HS diploma is of vital importance. (In our state, homeschoolers don't receive diplomas unless they take the GED.) For the coming academic year, DD will take 3 classes per semester instead of 4, and will leave early to go to the studio five days per week. After her first HS semester she's also eligible to take two courses per year online, which is also in our plan. We've been warned that leaving early may not work in the future, and could make earning the number of credits required for graduation difficult. We will cross that bridge when we come to it, knowing there are a lot of options for an academically driven child who needs to dance.

 

Our take on school is this: School comes first. But in addition to handling the pressures and demands of traditional schooling, DD is learning lifelong skills in ballet that can't be replicated in that environment. Whether she becomes a professional or changes direction altogether, she needs to be a balanced, educated individual, so we're working in multiple directions toward that goal. (In an interesting side note, most of the girls at DD's studio are NOT homeschooled, and the AD requires all company members to maintain a B average so that they're prepared for a successful non-dance career when or if that time comes.)

 

Edited 2/13/13: Just an additional note to explain that, although DD's dance training takes place completely after school and on weekends, we have a 90-minute commute that requires us to leave at 1:45 to make it to class on time...hence our decision making about early dismissal and homeschooling. There are no other studios in the area, so we do what we must do! But we would have said "no" to homeschooling just to accommodate more dancing, especially at age 11.

Edited by dustbunny
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Wow this is so interesting and Dancemaven, we came to your conclusion. I work and would not have the time to give to it, even though I have a very flexible schedule. There was no compelling reason to home school, there were no dance classes offered in the morning or afternoon and we wanted our child to be socially solid. Also, I feel that it would put too much pressure on our DD and would boil her world down to a very small set of people and experiences.We are raising a person, who is a dancer. We will continue to revisit throughout her life but right now that isn't the answer for us. Also, I believe that a rich life makes a strong artist. In other words, in order to bring something to dance artistically you need to have a rich base of experiences with other people, with other real (rather than simulated) experiences. I know that you can do this and still home school. I respect the many people who find homeschooling the right fit for them. I know that it really OPENS the world for many children. For us, we thought it would make our DD's world SMALLER and confining at this time.

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Our DD in HS, and has many friends who dance and homeschool, we have offered it to her every year but she wants to have a "normal" high school experience and has opted to go to public school. Our schools have not been easy to work with and do not allow early dismissal. DD has several friends who dance and home school. One home schooled for several years, went to public school for one year then decided she wasn't missing any thing and wasn't any more challenged by the work and went back to home schooling, Another home schooled but struggled in some academic areas which limited her choices for college, each student is different and what works for one may not be workable for another, IMO, having online schooling seems more focused and makes sure that they are not missing any critical work that will aloow them to be compitive in college. All the homeschoolers were very social and did not seem to be lacking in the social development department

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We have done every form of schooling in our home: home schooling, private schools, public schools, (in the buildings), and cyber school. All of my daughters have danced at one time, but only one is left dancing now and considering it as a career. The blessing has been the options that we have had that allowed all my children to pursue different things at different times to the best of their ability, juggling their schedules and still getting an excellent education. We always took one year at a time and assessed where the child was and where they needed to be. It was wonderful to have so many options to allow the student to grow and develop individually.

 

Our homeschooling was varied and difficult. Some of my children did it through high school by attending a study center two days a week with tutors for their subjects. We did pure homeschooling through tenth grade with help from coops. The name HOME school was a misnomer, because we were rarely at home and did many things in the community with and without other homeschoolers. Socialization was never a problem. It was difficult to home school for us beyond tenth grade because of the complexity of the subjects and my ability to juggle teaching with my other responsibilities, and all the driving to coops and activities. Yet, it can be done if you have a very motivated self driven student who desires to learn on their own and needs little instruction to do so. I have had several friends with children like this who attended top notch colleges with scholarships.

 

In high school, one dd opted for public school in 11-12 grade because that experience was important to her , another dd did cyber school which enabled her to attend dance rehearsals in the middle of the day, one son took classes at a homeschool study center grades 8-12 because I couldn't keep up with him academically. All took very challenging classes, which, even if their instructor wasn't the best, they could make more interesting and difficult by their efforts. What they would put into a class is what they would get out. We have found some dual enrollment community college courses to be easier than the high school instruction in cyber school, particularly AP courses. We have found some public school courses were too easy. We have found some private schools that should have been colleges. We have also found that cyber school self paced courses really are learning on your own...but with a knowledgeable teacher to ask questions to, rather than an overworked homeschool mom. All got an excellent education and were able to attend excellent colleges.

 

I believe that we live in an exciting age for education with so many options that can be adjusted for a child's needs, and allow things like dancing 4.5 hours a day and continued high school education. I also humbly hope the journey taught my children that learning is a life time process, not limited to the brick walls of a school building, and getting the best education depends on their hard work and creativity more than on their school or teacher! What a wild ride it has been and still is!

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Just a note with no single response in mind, but since we have several other threads about homeschooling, let's be sure that we keep this one to two very important parts of the title and explanation of the original poster: "How do you decide" and then "to allow more time to dance" . Very specific qualifiers, just like 11 1/2 in age is.

 

I would say that there is never a time you decide to homeschool to allow more time to dance. At least until the child is old enough for a release program at a professional company or the like. There are many valid reasons to make the choice to homeschool. But to make the choice to allow more time to dance in my opinion, is not making the decision for the right reasons when the child is younger.

 

If the only way to become a professional dancer was to either go to residency or be homeschooled, then yes, maybe. However, that is NOT the case. And as the road appears to have become a bit more difficult to achieve the goal of dancing professionally in ballet, then the decision should never be based on what makes life easier for the dancer and the family who must drive them. But in my personal opinion, that is not making the decision based around the right things. If the only way to become a professional dancer was either through residency and/or homeschool, then yes, base the decision on dance. But otherwise, the decision should be in totality based on all the other qualifiers that revolve around raising a healthy, happy, well-rounded and educated child. If the child is older and ready to take on a company position (not 11 1/2) then there are other considerations as well.

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I agree Momof3darlings and it feels really validating for me because it has often felt as though this decision somehow divided the serious and not serious dancers.

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Lovedance, I used the SI audition acceptances and where my dd was placed in the SI classes to determine if she was competitive with her age group. If it looked like she was lagging behind, then adding more classes or a possible move to another studio for better training was discussed.

 

A word about serious vs not serious dancers: At 15 or 16, the girls usually assess themselves out of ballet and the serious dancers remain. If your dd still has a burning desire to dance professionally, then it's time to map out some serious training if she can't get it at her home studio.

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Just as a "devil's advocate" in this thread. I have five dancing kids and have homeschooled them all. They are all productive, intelligent and respectful citizens. None of them received an official high school diploma. Only one of them has chosen to pursue a professional dancing career. One will have her Dr. of Chiropractic degree in another 3 mos. One is in a PhD program in Optical Physics at Univ of Rochester. One is a Jr in Electrical Engineering and Physics at UMiami and the youngest is a junior in high school. Three boys and two girls. And it is one of my boys who is the professional ballet dancer - and he joined his company at age 17, after completing his high school requirements.

 

All of this not to toot MY horn...but I think that homeschooling offers more than just time advantages to your child. And choosing public or private education does not mean that your child will be better socialized, get along better with others, etc.

 

Homeschooling can allow your child to see you navigating this crazy world in a respectful way, living with integrity, and making wise choices. After 19 years of homeschooling, I have earned that "more is caught than taught." For me, homeschooling was the only way I could see and interact with my dancing children during the day and that was something that was very important to me.

 

Oh...and having no homework and no dioramas were important to me, too :)

 

How you choose to educate your dk is a personal choice, and I am not saying that everyone should homeschool their dancer. However, the comments that were being made about homeschooling, and homeschoolers, were simply not accurate. This is just another side to the discussion.

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PLEASE, do NOT turn this thread into a "defense of homeschooling" or "advocate of homeschooling" or any-thing-else homeschooling thread. Somehow, these threads always end up being turned into a referendum on the benefits of homeschooling.

 

As momof3darlings reminded everyone in Post #10: We have quite a number of homeschooling threads with every manner of focus and perspective. And discussion is always welcome on those threads. :)

 

THIS thread is about an 11 1/2 year old with two years of ballet training asking her parents to permit her to cyber-school so that she can do more ballet training and what a parent should consider in evaluating that request.

 

If we can't stay on track to help discuss the topic issue so as to help the original poster with her question, then the thread isn't being helpful.

 

Any additional posts regarding homeschooling will be moved to one of the myriad homeschooling threads. :wink:

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One thing I might consider for an 11 year old who is asking to cyber-school is how that might affect her involvement in music. In our large public school district, all 6th graders must take a full year of music for the first year of middle school, either choir, band, or orchestra. I think that for dancers, having some understanding of music is tremendously helpful for their sense of musicality and knowing how to phrase their dancing to be as beautiful as possible with the music. Our now 17 yo DD started playing violin at age 6, always loved ballet much more but continues to study privately, and in 6th grade, started playing with her school orchestra. Thanks to a wonderfully supportive and gracious senior high school orchestra director, she is still able to play in orchestra at school and that gives her a group there and is a great source of pleasure for her. I am also convinced that it is a huge boost for her artistry and musicality as a dancer, both in her solo work and in working with others in the corps. It is good to have a non-dance experience that involves being a small part of something really beautiful. I have observed over the years that some homeschooled dancers really struggle with musicality, and I have to wonder if in part they may not have the same opportunities to be play instruments and be in musical groups (never mind that dancers have very little non-dancing time as it is). I would suggest considering how moving to cyber-school would affect your child's involvement in music. If it will preclude her getting to do music at school, that could be a serious cost for her dancing. If she already studies an instrument and has the chance to play in a musical group outside of school, then of course that is less of an issue. I wish you the best with your decision. As a university professor, I believe that there are many ways to get a fantastic education and we all have to do what we believe is best for our dancers and all of our children.

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