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Panic, help. Independent study might be the only option.


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Help, I am freaking out.  My 12 year old DD had a pretty nice schedule arranged with the school district.  5 classes instead of 6 and no PE.  The school district is now backtracking.  We are in the second week of school.  DD was super super super jazzed about her teachers and classes, which included some accelerated courses.

The ballet school had built a coaching schedule around my DD's school schedule, in fact, everyone's.  It was a lot of work.  I have of course set up all of my carpools with other dance parents, and worked out our schedules too.

The principal of her middle school is very sorry and sympathetic, but it looks like we are going to have to decide.  I think what happened was the independent study people at the district got wind of this arrangement and made a fuss.  I am not sure.  

So options are:

Full time independent study program with the school district, which I was resisting because I am also a single, working mom and I think it's just too lonely for her, even though she is definitely smart enough to handle the work.  I could work from home part of the time.


Stay at the school full time, give up the ballet coaching, which honestly is the only way the school separates their prepro from their rec dancers.  Prepro kids do coaching plus reg ballet classes.

It's a terrible choice and she is torn.  She is leaning full time independent.

IS full time independent study really crazy for a 12 year old?  Would I be a horrible mom if I let her do that?? 

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Wow, this must be so hard! 

I guess my quick thoughts would be is there another place she can get quality training? If you have to stay at that studio because it is the best in your area, are the ballet classes alone at her current studio enough (now and for what they offer as the kids progress into upper levels )on track to pursue professional dancing, as per the age-appropriate training guidelines pinned at the top of the forum, or does she really need the prepro track? If they are not enough or won't be enough quality training in a couple of years, to me it seems drastic to pull her out of regular school when you will have to make a change of studios later anyway. 

At the young age of 12, if there is another way to get her the right training per this site, then keeping her in regular school as long as possible would seem to be the best goal, especially given that so much can happen between 12 and starting a career, and having plans B and C seem to be an often-recommended part of helping all our dancers on their journeys. 


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Hi -   that's tough...   but 12 is still young  so that's really good :) .. - is there any way the school will let her take some classes in school and some independently?  From experience, home study is much harder than most people think and being on top of them constantly is part of it , motivated and smart or not, it is very difficult and my advice ( which is also the advice given to me)  is to keep them in regular school for as long as possible and then transition to online or homeschooling if dancer gets to the point of really wanting to be a professional.    Get all the hours you can in at the studio , and maybe coaching on a Saturday ?  Hope this helps !!

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At 12 I would not give up her schooling especially with how excited about her classes and teachers just for some extra coaching.  Independent study is not easy and and I would not recommend it unless you would be available at the house with her, it would be different if she was older or if it was something she had done for years already.  I know it is difficult to know what is best but I always like to remind myself that I am raising a person not just a dancer.  Best of luck!!!

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Independent study is difficult, even with the most focused, determined and intelligent child. It's difficult even with a full-time caregiver around to help keep her on task and answer any questions that come up. Honestly, at 12, I wouldn't pull her out of school if the only educational alternative is independent study. I'm sorry you're facing such a tough decision, good luck!

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On 8/21/2017 at 8:31 PM, nynydancer said:

Stay at the school full time, give up the ballet coaching, which honestly is the only way the school separates their prepro from their rec dancers.  Prepro kids do coaching plus reg ballet classes.

It's a terrible choice and she is torn.  She is leaning full time independent.

IS full time independent study really crazy for a 12 year old?  Would I be a horrible mom if I let her do that?? 


I don't think at 12, with a mom who works, independent study is a good idea. And also,  at 12, it's not her decision at all.  It's yours as an adult guardian who has maturity and perspective that she does not. 

Something that strikes me as odd is this piece about pre pro students getting coaching and that being the distinguishing characteristic of the pre pro program.  Is that coaching for competition? If so, well I don't know that it should be the case that coaching is the distinguishing characteristic of a pre pro program.


If I am misunderstanding what "coaching" is, I would just tell the ballet school that another time would have to be found for coaching.  I am assuming that you are paying coaching fees, which are substantial and it would seem to me that they would accommodate you especially since you tried to figure things out.

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I have a 13+ dancer who has done independent study for two years. Where we live there is a difference between independent study and online schooling. In our area there is a brick and mortar school that is an independent study program. Students attend their core academic classes one time per week for instruction and do all of their work at home. In this way of schooling there is teacher student interactions and the teachers hold their students accountable. Online education requires much more maturity and diligence. Perhaps at 12 you can find a similar version to independent study that we found. It is though our public school system. 

Good Luck!

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What does your daughter want to do?

We are longtime homeschoolers, so that colors my perspective.  I'd just put out there that (depending on where you live), there are likely options for classes, co-ops, and park days so your dd isn't home by herself every day.  If I were considering pulling my kid from school, I would definitely investigate the local homeschooling community and resources.  

Best of luck to you and your dd!

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  • 1 year later...

Like threegirlpileup, we too are longtime homeschoolers.  To chime in here, there are definitely many options for schooling.  There are "live" online schools, which, now that our dancers are training longer, our dancers attend and LOVE!  They have wonderful interaction with their teachers and classmates during classes AND, if they have any questions, teachers can be contacted through an online system called Canvas.  We couldn't be more pleased.  We also belong to homeschool and youth groups in the area.  There are homeschool groups that meet once a week to disseminate the weeks course work, co-ops - as already mentioned, and many independent teachers. 

Best to all!

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With much respect and admiration of those who home school, doing such is virtually impossible as a single, working mom.  It is very difficult to manage a full time job (necessary to pay the bills, unfortunately), household responsibilities, and raising children, one of whom maintains a very involved ballet training schedule year round. My DD is also 12, and has expressed the desire to do all online academic studies. But I have resisted, as I simply do not have the physical availability or resources to support that desire. I think unless one is equipped and free to devote time and energy to providing outlets for learning, study, and socialization (for lack of a better term), then efforts should probably be made to keep the child in some semblance of traditional school as long as possible. 

I second the suggestions that perhaps a hybrid could be looked into. Even if certain subjects  are done outside of the classroom, but still linked to a teacher or program with the brick and mortar school. I'm not sure what options there are where you live, but perhaps there are programs that offer support for students studying remotely.  I know here the ballet school has partnerships with brick and mortar schools, as well as a sort of group tutoring scenario where students do online work in a group setting with assistance available from adults.

As a fellow single mom trying to make this all work, my thoughts are with you. I would try to find an alternative to an all or nothing approach at age 12. It's a constant work in progress, and has taken some guesswork on my part in trying to plan ahead with my daughter's school. Best of luck to you...no matter the outcome, you're doing your best for your child!

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That is EXACTLY what I was talking about Spencedance.  I taught in the public schools for quite awhile, almost 20 years, and now many districts offer excellent programs that are all or partly online, a hybrid such as you describe.  Some even offer students the opportunity to do these said onlilne classes at an actual school building with a teacher guiding the students efforts and answering questions! I'd definitely check to see if your district offers this, or if they do not, see if it is available in a district close to where you work or where the studio is located. And if another district offers it, see if you can get a transfer for your situation to work.  This is happening in quite a few states.  Having grown up in a single parent home I totally understand the challenges of the situation, especially when there are multiple children involved, which was my parent's case.

No two students are alike.  Each is unique.  Some can handle independent study and some can not.  I have seen students actually thrive with independent study, even at 10 or 11.  It depends on the child and their maturity level.  You know your daughter best to be able to make that determination.  Check out what is available to you and go with what your gut is telling you.  You are the expert regarding knowing your daughter.  When you are armed with enough information to move forward trust yourself.  And remember, nothing is set in stone.  You can evaluate how the situation is going and adjust along the way.  

You've got this!  I will be thinking of you.  All the best.


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Yes, Twinkletoes1!  I've found that hybrid options are increasingly available, even at the pre-high school level. Another option might be looking into what private schools would offer. Here we have private schools that allow students to pay a reduced tuition, or even a tuition based on the number of credit hours a student is enrolled in at the school.  In middle school, there are a decent amount of "non core" subjects, for which a ballet school could perhaps provide credit (if the non core hours/subjects are even a requisite). For example, I've got a plan in place with my DD's private academic school for when her daytime dance hours increase. She is set to attend school for 3 subjects in the morning, do one remotely (under guide/supervision of a teacher at brick and mortar), then whatever else is needed will be covered by the ballet school, a sort of "dual enrolled" student. And her tuition at the private academic school will only reflect the 4 core subjects taken there. 

And yes, Nynydancer, you've got this...your daughter is in excellent hands!

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So update as original poster: it's been about a year and we went with our local school district's independent study program and it was a life changer.  No more rushing, no more freakouts when lots of homework given the same night as a long rehearsal.  It lowered the stress in our home 100000%, and the education was solid.  Actually, DD was even able to jump straight to high school math this year, so it really worked for her. This year both my DKs must do 100% online (they are doing k-12) and my DD was ready for it probably thanks to what we did last year.  It felt "extreme" and weird to jump to independence study last year, but it was the right thing to do in hindsight.  

One huge question at the time was also: will she lose socialization?  Honestly, she socialized rarely with kids at middle school because she always had dance anyways.  When in regular school, she did her homework at recess and lunch, as I know so many ballet dancers do (it always made me feel kinda sad for her).  Her friends were at the ballet school.  We made opportunities with other young dancers to hang out.  So I would even say her social life improved :) 

Good luck to all who are going through this!

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