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junedancer

Vocational in year 7 - how do DCs cope with the change?

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My DD decided recently to take her dancing seriously and we have agreed to apply for vocation school.  I am concerned about the impact of the additional hours of dancing.  Anyone with a DC in year 7 have issues with tiredness?  She copes well at the moment with school and dancing but I have friends whose children went to high school last year said it was tiring for them and with the added pressure of dance at vocation school how do they cope?

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Hi Junedancer - my DS is a present yr7 at vocational school & I'm obviously only commenting on our experience as I'm sure all children & their parents will have different views. Our DS found the first few weeks extremely tiring ..... new school, boarding away from home, new teachers, new timetable & having to be super organised without the help of parents on-site. A massive change which left our DS quite exhausted & stressed at times. My friends with children at non-vocational school however also had similar concerns.

A few weeks on though our DS has, in his own words become 'used' to the long days, extra dance hours etc & the daily life of vocational school........ we have had a few ups & downs, a few issues that needed to be addressed & a few tears on bad days, but he's much more settled now & when we ask him if it's all too much or if he'd rather have gone to a more conventional school ...... he looks horrified !!

He loves the school, his teachers & most of all his dance classes which makes us realise we've made the right decision. I can see why it might not be the right thing for everyone, but if your DD really wants to give it a go & is committed - it can be a wonderful experience & opportunity. :)

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We don't have vocational schools in NZ (apart from some private ones from age 14), but I really noticed the difference this year when my DD went from 5-6 ballet/Pilates classes a week in Yr 7 to 9-10 in Yr 8. She's had several days off school just because she needed recovery time (ie was white as a sheet and off her food so not much point expecting her deal with school as well, although I'd set her homework/maths practice tasks at home). Also, growth spurts put more demands on their poor tired bodies.

I would hope that vocational schools would be more aware of the physical demands and adjust to accommodate recovery time? At least you wouldn't have the conflicting demands of things like all-day school athletic sports followed by 3 hours of dancing?!

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You're right Cara, certainly at my DS's school - they are very aware of when each child is having a growth spurt as the teachers measure them on a regular basis. The DC are advised on how to restrict certain movements in order to avoid injuries. It's also true that as their dance lessons are incorporated into the day and their school days can be quite long - when the school day is over & they've completed their prep - they don't have to then fit in dance lessons late into the evening . In yr6 - my DS was at primary school then often at dance school til 9pm on certain days throughout the week which was ok at the time due to having less homework, but still very tiring.

It must be extremely tiring to attend a normal secondary school, get homework done & then keep up enough hours of dance lessons in evenings & weekends . So I suppose I'm saying whichever route your DC chooses - they have to 'want' to do it, be committed and accept its a busy & tiring life ........ if they love dancing then it's worth it for them :)

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It must be extremely tiring to attend a normal secondary school, get homework done & then keep up enough hours of dance lessons in evenings & weekends . So I suppose I'm saying whichever route your DC chooses - they have to 'want' to do it, be committed and accept its a busy & tiring life ........ if they love dancing then it's worth it for them :)

 

Agreed. Dd spends around 6 hours a weeks travelling in order to fit enough non-voc hours of training in, many quite late. There is no route that doesn’t involve dc being exhausted at some point. I suppose I feel that I have lots of contact with my dd so I know when she needs a night off and I make sure she gets rest when needed. I have no experience of voc school junedancer, but my advice would be to make sure you are totally confident that the pastoral carers at the school would make the same decisions as you would if (or when) your dd gets a little run down.

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My DD is at vocational school and yes she does get tired occasionally, especially end of term. Though I think that if she was to attend her local secondary school she simply won't be able to have 4 hours of dance training Mon to Fri and would need to keep dancing during weekends and end up not having a day off.

I'm pleased to say that she is very well looked after at school. Not long ago she felt very tired and had a headache. She went to school med centre and they just let her sleep there on a coach (through history lesson and half of maths!) and then feeling much better she returned to her classes.

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My SD is in Y8 and just started at vocational school. Y7 and beginning of this term life was hectic with fitting it all in for both of us and very stressful at times as well as tiring. She is loving her new school and although tired, she is certainly happier not to have all the rushing around, driving all over the place, packed suppers to gobble down in the car plus fitting in mountains of homework too. I know it's not for everyone but when the child is the one pushing to achieve their dream, we all do what we can to support them. Yes it's hard giving responsibility of her welfare to others but I am enjoying a less pressured week which gives my younger child more of my time too. Good luck with whichever decision you make and don't doubt yourself as you will make the right one for your DD and family.

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Can only echo Happymums comments re vocational school..yr7 dd tired ,insisted on going to ballet class after feeling ill with the flu jab.her ballet teacher who can be tough on her , took one look at her and insisted that she curl up on the mat and sleep... dd said it was so relaxing listening to piano ... slept and was refreshed ready for the rest of day!

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I would agree with others that both the vocational route and the 'adequately serious' non vocational route are tiring.

 

DD (13) is at a normal academic school, and also dances at an adequately serious non-vocational school. She's not going to go down the 'ballet' route vocationally, though a common path for leavers from her dance school is dance college (Birds, Performers, Laines, LSC) at 18 and that is a route still open to her.

 

She leaves the house at 8.15 am and gets back at 4.15 2 days a week, 5.15 - 6 following sports training / matches 2 days a week, and is picked up early straight from school 1 day a week for a singing lesson. She then does her homework, eats, and goes back out again for between 2 and 3.5 hours of dancing every night. End time varies between 8 and 9.15.

 

When there isn't additional dancing at weekends (or when there isn't anything academic on - she's currently doing masterclasses in an academic subject she's gifted at), she sleeps, clears the week's homework backlog, does additional art. Then she starts again. 2 half terms out of the 3 she dances at festivals, so it is only the 'main' holidays that she gets a proper rest.

 

In some ways, a vocational school might be 'easier' for her, at least emotionally, because it is the competing demands of the different strands of her life that she finds so very tiring (she's one of those nauseating  people who is highly able at sport, arts, dance and academic subjects!), and the fact that each of those strands can't always understand why she isn't putting them first.

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I could have written your post myself, ParentTaxi. We discussed vocational school and its pluses and minuses when DD's friend went, but DD was clear that as she wouldn't be able to play sports at the level and in the variety she currently does, and would possibly face restricted availability in terms of academic subjects (whilst realising that academic results at vocational schools are often very impressive), it wouldn't be for her even if she decided that she did want to pursue ballet as a career.

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I agree that there is no "easy" way. When my DD was at her normal academic school and dancing almost every day as well, it was pretty exhausting and incredibly disruptive to family life. Moving to secondary school, whether its vocational or not, growing up, both physically and emotionally - it's a tough time for them all. No one way is going to be best for every child. All any of us can do is have a "best guess" from what we know of our own child, and of course it depends on what opportunities present themselves too. And it doesn't have to be set in stone - i of know quite a few DCs who have gone off to vocational school, realised it wasnt right for them at that point and come back home, and others who have done the opposite.

I think all you can really do is look at the options, listen to your child and also your gut feeling, and hope for the best. After my experiences with DD's dancing basically setting the family agenda for so many years I vowed I would never let that happen again. But I am. (Different child, different pursuits, but similar demands on time and money... ). It's part of the parent job description isn't it? We do whatever we can to make them happy and sometimes that involves taking steps that we are not 100% sure about. In fact I don't think you can always be sure even later on whether you  got things right - only that you tried your best.

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I would agree with others that both the vocational route and the 'adequately serious' non vocational route are tiring.

 

DD (13) is at a normal academic school, and also dances at an adequately serious non-vocational school. She's not going to go down the 'ballet' route vocationally, though a common path for leavers from her dance school is dance college (Birds, Performers, Laines, LSC) at 18 and that is a route still open to her.

 

She leaves the house at 8.15 am and gets back at 4.15 2 days a week, 5.15 - 6 following sports training / matches 2 days a week, and is picked up early straight from school 1 day a week for a singing lesson. She then does her homework, eats, and goes back out again for between 2 and 3.5 hours of dancing every night. End time varies between 8 and 9.15.

 

When there isn't additional dancing at weekends (or when there isn't anything academic on - she's currently doing masterclasses in an academic subject she's gifted at), she sleeps, clears the week's homework backlog, does additional art. Then she starts again. 2 half terms out of the 3 she dances at festivals, so it is only the 'main' holidays that she gets a proper rest.

 

In some ways, a vocational school might be 'easier' for her, at least emotionally, because it is the competing demands of the different strands of her life that she finds so very tiring (she's one of those nauseating  people who is highly able at sport, arts, dance and academic subjects!), and the fact that each of those strands can't always understand why she isn't putting them first.

Interesting to read, and I have to agree with you. 

 

My DD is currently in yr 10 at an academic school. 

 

Leaving the house at 7.45am and returning home at approx 7.45pm. Finishing school at 3.30pm walking to her studio, balancing homework in the changing room along with the other like minded students and mothers waiting. Then taking her lessons before returning home for evening meal close to 8pm, shower and in bed by 9pm 

 

Total of approx 13 hours in the studio squeezed into just 5 days maybe 6 for extra coaching for exams and festivals. 

 

The advantage is that my teenager does not have the time energy or inclination to get involved in the usual teenagers life of boys, social media and clothes!

 

So not all bad. 

 

PS Just to add, it is well recognised by many that those involved in dance or sport use their down time wisely and very focused on school work and down time is so precious.

Edited by balletbean
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Thank you everyone for your really helpful comments - I haven't replied individually as there is so much to take in but I am really grateful for the time you have all taken to respond.  There is just so much to consider when deciding what is best and then the balancing job.  I get the impression that if a DC is residential at vocational there is a chance of getting a good balance between dance and academic studies as everything is managed by the school.  We have been looking at a few options that would mean living at home but as the school will start earlier and finish later this seems to me it might be problematic as they may be more tired than those who are residential.  Does anyone have a DC at a local vocational school who does not live in?  Would it be better to have a boarding place? 

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I know I'm 16 and not 11 but even in the past few years ive increased my dancing so much and found it really strenuous but I wouldn't have it any other way! I'm up at 6.15 and only get home at 9.45 almost every night, combine that with lots of homework, academic pressure, other musical ensembles and extra curricular, time to talk to friends and even family. It's so full on in waking hours but hopefully this year will be the last of this stress! x

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My DD is really feeling it. She is 9 and is the 2nd year of vocational school. She is up at 7 each morning and has to fit in up to 3 hours training 4 nights a week. Tag on 1 hour round trip for travel and we do get the occasional moan and groan. That said on the days I've had to gee her up, she has still come out of class happy. At least in our case she is still home each night and I can see how she's eating and coping etc

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Hi my daughter is a day pupil at a vocational school. Initially she was very tired and grumpy but as time goes on she is coping well. She really enjoys it but would not board as she likes her own bed. Also she is always starving so she enjoys her second dinner when back in the evening.

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My dd is in year 7 at vocational school but doesn't board. She is up at 6.30 am and home 3 nights a week after 6, the other nights around 4.30. They do 3/4 hours of dance a day. They also get a lot of homework. She has to go to bed earlier than she used to but seems to thrive on the demands of it all. I think the fact she is getting to dance every day means she doesn't mind doing more homework and longer hours. I've never seen her enjoying school as much (or for that matter doing as well academically). 

 

If it is something they love then I guess any tiredness doesn't matter. And the first half term she seemed more tired than she does now we are in the second half term. I think they adjust quickly.

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Thanks again for all of your helpful comments and advice.  My DD doesn’t have any dancing friends so a conversation with the school mum’s on hours that DD dances gets strange looks and nods of disapproval so I don’t bring the subject up now.  Her local high school has a really good academic record so they will think I am mad to be considering any other option.  I know that they give lots of homework – their answer to keeping results high! – so fitting in dance would be a struggle.  I am also finding getting enough dance classes at a high enough level an issue.  I take it that when they go to vocational and are at home you can drop outside classes, maybe keeping on the odd holiday workshop?  That would be an advantage as it will be easier to get rest periods at weekends and holidays.  Oh well back to the applications.  Our photos were a disaster – too much shadow – but I have been heartened by posts on that subject so I will give up stressing!

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We live around 45 miles away from dd's school. She leaves the house at around 7.30am & gets home approx 7.30-7.45pm.

 

It is tiring for her.

Oh Gosh, how long does that school/ballet run take? 

 

I'm fortunate that my DD is on the same timetable as yours but if the traffic lights are kind to me I can do the ballet run in 4/6 minutes one way! And she can walk from school to the studio. I feel for you though, especially in the cold dark winter months.  It must also be tiring for you having to complete the round trips. 

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Hi Junedancer - yes it can be hard to get enough training locally - and that's a good reason to go to vocational school. Vocational schools do not allow regular outside classes but do allow some one off workshops. There seems to be a varying adherence to these rules....

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She leaves home at 7.30am in order to arrive at school for around 8.45am (morning registration is at 8.55am)  School finishes at 6.00pm but we pay extra so that she eats her evening meal with the boarders.  She leaves school at 6.30pm and it takes between an hour and an hour 20 minutes (depending on traffic) to get home.

 

On Saturdays traffic is usually better.  She leaves at 8.00am and arrives at school at 9.00am.  Sometimes on a Saturday she will get a taxi to the station and come home on the train but she can't go on the train in the mornings as the first one doesn't get there in time. On weekday evenings a timetable anomaly means that she would be waiting 45 mins in the station for the next train and its not a direct route, it involves a change of trains.

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She leaves home at 7.30am in order to arrive at school for around 8.45am (morning registration is at 8.55am)  School finishes at 6.00pm but we pay extra so that she eats her evening meal with the boarders.  She leaves school at 6.30pm and it takes between an hour and an hour 20 minutes (depending on traffic) to get home.

 

On Saturdays traffic is usually better.  She leaves at 8.00am and arrives at school at 9.00am.  Sometimes on a Saturday she will get a taxi to the station and come home on the train but she can't go on the train in the mornings as the first one doesn't get there in time. On weekday evenings a timetable anomaly means that she would be waiting 45 mins in the station for the next train and its not a direct route, it involves a change of trains.

Oh Gosh, hats off to you. I couldn't do that. I shall stick to my 8/10 minutes round trip. Perfect timing to put the veggie on to boil! lol  ;)

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