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Balancing rigor, box checking, and enjoyment when your child is an artist


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Let me start by saying, even if you don’t have answers to my specific questions, I’d really love anyone’s advice on getting a non-academically focused artist through high school in a way that balances what they need for college with giving them the time and space needed to pursue the things they are passionate about.

Now for the details, next year I will be down to one child at home with two in college. The one still at home will be a 14-years old sophomore. She has never been tested as gifted, but she skipped 6th grade at the small, private school she was attending before we brought her home. She is definitely bright, but completely uninterested in most academics. She is still getting A’s in all the outsourced classes and is doing well at her classes with me, but she isn’t enjoying much of it at all, and spends way more time dreading the work than doing it. Her two older sisters were much more academically minded, so this is new to me.

What she really enjoys is art. She is dancing ballet about 15-hours a week, and she would happily do more. She has never taken a music lesson (her choice, not mine) but has taught herself the piano (rudimentary level) and ukulele, and writes her own songs frequently. She draws for stress relief. She is also a tinkerer and enjoys building when she has time. These are the things she truly enjoys.

I am trying to make a plan for her sophomore year, and I am hoping you all can help me. We do have the option of taking five years for her to get through high school, and she would still only be 17 when she graduates. Her preference is to be done when she is 16, and then spend the next year or two pursuing a dance career before going off to college if she doesn’t get a contract. First, would colleges look down on five years in high school? It would let us spread out some of the required classes to fit in more things she enjoys.

This year, she is taking pretty standard courses — essay writing, a lit heavy geography program since her English is focused on writing, biology, geometry, dance (aka PE), Chinese (she took two years of Chinese that we plan to roll together as Chinese 1 and call this year Chinese 2), and health. Next year we are thinking Chinese, English, algebra 2, US history, chemistry/physics, and more dance. However, she has found a program that would allow her to learn video game development that would take two full days a week. She would touch on art, game design, sound design, and programming which are all things she is interested in, but also all electives. I am unsure how to fit that in with her dance and core academic courses without picking “light” versions of many of the core classes. Even though her goal is to dance professionally and college will come one class at a time during and/or after she retires from dance, I want to make sure she is well positioned to get into a good school should she change her mind or not get that elusive dance contract. 

In our state, dual enrollment classes can be paid for by the state for juniors and seniors. Would colleges look down on her say skipping science next year and then taking multiple science classes one or both the following two years? What about no social science next year? You get one full credit for each quarter long class so it would be easy to get the credits she need with dual enrollment even with an elective heavy schedule next year.

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Kristini2
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11 minutes ago, Kristini2 said:

Let me start by saying, even if you don’t have answers to my specific questions, I’d really love anyone’s advice on getting a non-academic artist through high school in a way that balances what they need for college with giving them the time and space needed to pursue the things they are passionate about.

 

Since you asked, I might start with your student's goals for after high school.  Does she want to attend college?  Is college a good choice for her?  What sort of career does she want, and is a college degree required?  

If you and her agree that she should attend college, then where?  Look at their entrance requirements, and ask her if she is willing to jump through those hoops?  

I think starting with goals and working backward will help with motivation.

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Our experience was that art colleges generally look at a portfolio for scholarships and worry less about transcript. My oldest attended one and she just had to *take* the SAT/ACT, not present a particular score; she didn't even have 2 years of foreign language on her transcript. (We'd planned for dual enrollment for that and then missed the boat.) She did a BFA studio art, but then went back to the CC to study graphic design and make her skills saleable. She's working in a print/sign shop now. So my advice there is to make sure that if you pursue an art degree you also think about how to make your art skills marketable. Check out National Portfolio Day and local art contests, exhibits, benefits/auctions and county fairs for opportunities to show her stuff and see other artists. With her skills, you might also look into "maker" fairs and workrooms/studios. She could try a variety of things and see some really cool applied arts stuff.

An art degree at a state school here in CA, though, will have all the standard state transcript expectations and she'd have to do GE for 2 years before getting to focused art classes, do the SAT/ACT, etc. Alternatively, you might check out what arts classes are offered at your local CC. My son took pottery at ours and had an excellent teacher. And there are lots of dance and music classes at our CC, music appreciation, choir performance, etc. There are also local artist co-operatives and small exhibitions. Our city runs a yearly art contest that my girls have entered and enjoyed.

CC for high school science would *only* be appealing to my artsy girl for 2 reasons: finish a year in a semester, and do something other than the standard 3-year progression. She has her sights set on astronomy and, possibly, botany. But if your dd goes that route, I think her completing college courses in high school should speak for itself....but I am not an admissions expert.

Hope all of this idea-bouncing helps somehow!!

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22 minutes ago, daijobu said:

Since you asked, I might start with your student's goals for after high school.  Does she want to attend college?  Is college a good choice for her?  What sort of career does she want, and is a college degree required?  

If you and her agree that she should attend college, then where?  Look at their entrance requirements, and ask her if she is willing to jump through those hoops?  

I think starting with goals and working backward will help with motivation.

Her first goal is to become a professional ballet dancer, but that is a long, hard road with no guarantees at the end no matter how hard she works. She and I both agree that college is her plan B. She’s not sure what she would study, she has a lot of varied interests, but I like the idea of starting now looking at schools and what their requirements are. My degree is in fine art/graphic design, but I did it through a regular liberal arts college not an art school, so it would be good for us to see how requirements vary at different schools. Thank you! 

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44 minutes ago, Kristini2 said:

In our state, dual enrollment classes can be paid for by the state for juniors and seniors. Would colleges look down on her say skipping science next year and then taking multiple science classes one or both the following two years? What about no social science next year? You get one full credit for each quarter long class so it would be easy to get the credits she need with dual enrollment even with an elective heavy schedule next year.

Thanks in advance!

My DD’s dual enrollment classes are all over the place (some in 8th grade, lots during the summers, etc.), so we made a subject-based transcript rather than going by year. It’s a little like this: https://www.servingdaytoday.com/2013/04/subject-transcript-instead-of-yearly.html#.YIRgsi1HahA

 

My kiddo sounds like yours. Very practical about DE—she feels like why slog through a year when it can be over and mastered in a quarter or semester.

Edited by rzberrymom
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Laurel-in-CA said:

Hope all of this idea-bouncing helps somehow!!

Yes, very helpful! Thank you! I have a degree in art, but also a minor in computer science so for years I worked as a web designer. I will try to help her remember to gain marketable skills along the way if her dance career doesn’t pan out or once she is done dancing. 

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5 minutes ago, rzberrymom said:

My DD’s dual enrollment classes are all over the place (some in 8th grade, lots during the summers, etc.), so we made a subject-based transcript rather than going by year. It’s a little like this: https://www.servingdaytoday.com/2013/04/subject-transcript-instead-of-yearly.html#.YIRgsi1HahA

 

My kiddo sounds like yours. Very practical about DE—she feels like why slog through a year when it can be over and mastered in a quarter or semester.

I love the idea of a subject based rather than year based transcript! Thank you! I wish I had done that for my middle girl!

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4 hours ago, Kristini2 said:

...

This year, she is taking pretty standard courses — essay writing, a lit heavy geography program since her English is focused on writing, biology, geometry, dance (aka PE), Chinese (she took two years of Chinese that we plan to roll together as Chinese 1 and call this year Chinese 2), and health. Next year we are thinking Chinese, English, algebra 2, US history, chemistry/physics, and more dance. However, she has found a program that would allow her to learn video game development that would take two full days a week. She would touch on art, game design, sound design, and programming which are all things she is interested in, but also all electives. I am unsure how to fit that in with her dance and core academic courses without picking “light” versions of many of the core classes. Even though her goal is to dance professionally and college will come one class at a time during and/or after she retires from dance, I want to make sure she is well positioned to get into a good school should she change her mind or not get that elusive dance contract. 

In our state, dual enrollment classes can be paid for by the state for juniors and seniors. Would colleges look down on her say skipping science next year and then taking multiple science classes one or both the following two years? What about no social science next year? You get one full credit for each quarter long class so it would be easy to get the credits she need with dual enrollment even with an elective heavy schedule next year.

Thanks in advance!

The gaming program sounds wonderful and unique.

Few colleges require more than 3 years each of science and social studies.  Some only require two.  The only concern I'd have with an art-focused student doing just three years of social science is that if three credits are required the expected courses are usually US history, world history, and a half credit each of civics and economics.  If you are opposed to "light" civics and economics, plan to work those into her junior or senior year.  

There is no problem with just three sciences.  Some states allow students to substitute computer programming for their 4th math or 3rd science class, so that is also something to consider.  If you really want her to have four science, she can double up one year.  Colleges won't care if she completed one science per year or all of her science credits in the same year.  They just want to see that she took the requisite number of lab sciences.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Sherry in OH said:

There is no problem with just three sciences.

Thank you for your reply. I think this is one of those things that I may have to wrap my head around when it comes to her. Thanks to dual enrollment my oldest had seven science credits by the time she went to college. She is also on her way to a PhD in physics so very different interests than my youngest. It is good to remember that meeting requirements can be good enough, especially if it allows her to do more of what she loves. I’ll have my youngest think about what kind of school she wants (arts/dance focused, small liberal arts, super competitive, etc.) so she can help decide where her time will be best spent. 

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She sounds like someone who prefers to be self-motivated as opposed to checking boxes. Could you design some classes around her interests instead of letting her do standard academics? For example, take "essay writing"... the way that people are taught to write is highly uninspiring. I'm a good writer, but the first time I enjoyed writing for class in college, because this was the first time the writing didn't have to come in a highly prescribed format.

You say she's bright, so could you teach her what she needs without restricting it to very specific formats? Teach her to write through something she wants to write about. Focus on programming (a highly marketable skill!) since she likes building things. Don't restrict her to the "usual" classes. 

That'd be what I'd do, anyway. 

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11 hours ago, Kristini2 said:

Thank you for your reply. I think this is one of those things that I may have to wrap my head around when it comes to her. Thanks to dual enrollment my oldest had seven science credits by the time she went to college. She is also on her way to a PhD in physics so very different interests than my youngest. It is good to remember that meeting requirements can be good enough, especially if it allows her to do more of what she loves. I’ll have my youngest think about what kind of school she wants (arts/dance focused, small liberal arts, super competitive, etc.) so she can help decide where her time will be best spent. 

Yes, your daughter should start investigating schools and thinking about prospective majors.  For a start, look at the admission requirements for a few schools within your state.  Compare the requirements at your state's flagship to those of a couple of smaller public and LACs.  Also look at requirements for arts schools of interest to her.  Make a table of requirements.   The pattern you see for the colleges and universities will probably correlate to your state's public school graduation requirements. Typically:

  • English - 4 credits
  • Math - 3-4  credits: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and possibly one higher-level math
  • Science - 2-3 credits: a life science (biology), a physical science (chemistry/physics), and sometimes an additional science (anatomy and physiology, perhaps)
  • Social studies - 2-3 credits: US history, world history, and often a half-credit each of civics and economics
  • Foreign language - 2-3 credits
  • Fine arts - 1 credit 
  • Health/PE - 1 credit, colleges don't usually care about this one
  • Electives/career focus - 6 or more credits in subjects relating to the student's interests and goals.  

Ivies and other highly-competitive academically-focused schools may want 4 credits in each core area plus strong APs.  I know nothing about art schools beyond that portfolios and/or auditions are required.  

Pointy is good.  Seven science credits for a prospective physics major show that the student has a strong interest in science.  Unless your arty-student really likes science, she does not need extra science courses. Instead, she should choose electives that will further her goals - more computer programming and fine arts courses, for example.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

She sounds like someone who prefers to be self-motivated as opposed to checking boxes. Could you design some classes around her interests instead of letting her do standard academics? 

You are right. She is very self-motivated, and until this year she has had a lot of leeway in her education. I’m just finding it hard to reconcile the more interest led learning with the fact that colleges are going to want four years of this, three years of that, etc. I also want to make sure she is well prepared for college, since that is her plan B and plan B is a lot more likely than plan A in her case. I’m reading through a lot of older threads on non-traditional high school learning and id love peoples’s ideas on how to make it happen.

1 hour ago, Sherry in OH said:

Yes, your daughter should start investigating schools and thinking about prospective majors.  For a start, look at the admission requirements for a few schools within your state.  Compare the requirements at your state's flagship to those of a couple of smaller public and LACs.  Also look at requirements for arts schools of interest to her.  Make a table of requirements.   The pattern you see for the colleges and universities will probably correlate to your state's public school graduation requirements.

Thank you! She is a hard one to figure out as she has a lot of interests. She could be an engineering major or comp sci which almost certainly puts the state flagship university out of reach. Our friend has a son who got waitlisted with almost perfect SAT scores, an 4.0+ gpa, and years of taking comp sci courses as a high schooler at the same university that waitlisted him. She could go pre-med as she’s always been interested in how bodies work as well as in helping people. She could also go to art school as those are the things that bring her joy. She’s almost done with her freshman year of high school and neither she nor I have a reasonable guess as to what she wants to do if dance doesn’t work out. I’m guessing her best bet is to find a school that is good in a lot of areas and where it is easy to change majors. 😂 

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12 minutes ago, Kristini2 said:

You are right. She is very self-motivated, and until this year she has had a lot of leeway in her education. I’m just finding it hard to reconcile the more interest led learning with the fact that colleges are going to want four years of this, three years of that, etc. I also want to make sure she is well prepared for college, since that is her plan B and plan B is a lot more likely than plan A in her case. I’m reading through a lot of older threads on non-traditional high school learning and id love peoples’s ideas on how to make it happen.

I'm going to tag @lewelma, since she's done very non-traditional stuff with her kids. 

What did she enjoy when given leeway? Was it mostly the arts?

And I agree it's best to have a Plan B. Ballet is not really something you can count on -- we have a formerly homeschooled babysitter who was going to be a ballerina until she got injured 😞 . She was really glad she had the credits to go to college... 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

What did she enjoy when given leeway? Was it mostly the arts?

And I agree it's best to have a Plan B. Ballet is not really something you can count on -- we have a formerly homeschooled babysitter who was going to be a ballerina until she got injured 😞 . She was really glad she had the credits to go to college... 

Thanks for your help and for tagging someone else who might be able to help.

Yes, even without an injury it is a long shot since there are a lot more passionate, well-trained dancers than there are professional contracts.

She does art in her spare time. She creates when she is procrastinating or stressed. Dance can take her worst days and make everything better. Even with an artist mom, and plenty of advice to the contrary, I don't think she considers the fine/performing arts "school" material. 😂 Given the choice of subject matter she usually gravitates towards learning about things like the brain, eyes and the history of glasses/contacts, the domestication of dogs, simple machines, black holes. She's actually kind of a science-y kid, but definitely not nearly as into textbook learning about science as she is into going down her own rabbit holes. 

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1 hour ago, Kristini2 said:

Thanks for your help and for tagging someone else who might be able to help.

Yes, even without an injury it is a long shot since there are a lot more passionate, well-trained dancers than there are professional contracts.

She does art in her spare time. She creates when she is procrastinating or stressed. Dance can take her worst days and make everything better. Even with an artist mom, and plenty of advice to the contrary, I don't think she considers the fine/performing arts "school" material. 😂 Given the choice of subject matter she usually gravitates towards learning about things like the brain, eyes and the history of glasses/contacts, the domestication of dogs, simple machines, black holes. She's actually kind of a science-y kid, but definitely not nearly as into textbook learning about science as she is into designing her own experiments and running with them. 

She sounds like a great kid 🙂 . I don't think one needs to like textbook learning to be into academics! I never liked textbook learning much, either, and I have my PhD 😉 . 

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A friend of mine (a Disney family) has a daughter that was just admitted to RIT in their animation program. What I recall was her drawing cartoons for the school newspaper, doing a Girl Scout Gold Award project that involved painting a mural in a county foster care visitation room, as well as completing the required college prep coursework. I know she was heavy on art and animation classes in high school but I don’t recall mom mentioning a single AP or DE class. Maybe investigate some local non-profits to see where her artistic talents could be of use? You don’t have to be a girl scout to lend a hand or super into advanced core courses. Friend’s DD was clear about her preferred career from elementary school on up.

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4 hours ago, Kristini2 said:

You are right. She is very self-motivated, and until this year she has had a lot of leeway in her education. I’m just finding it hard to reconcile the more interest led learning with the fact that colleges are going to want four years of this, three years of that, etc. I also want to make sure she is well prepared for college, since that is her plan B and plan B is a lot more likely than plan A in her case. I’m reading through a lot of older threads on non-traditional high school learning and id love peoples’s ideas on how to make it happen.

 

I don't know if this will be helpful or not and I don't really know if it is good advice yet because my non-traditional kid is my 14 year old who is finishing up 9th grade. Right now I'm letting him follow his interests within a subject. For example, we did psychology this year but he did not want to use a textbook or follow a curriculum. He's listened to lots of podcasts, watched lots of videos, read books (some assigned, some on his own). We used Crash Course to kind of make sure to discuss certain topics and as a very bare bones scaffolding. Through some of those readings as well as another assignment that morphed into a philosophical essay he discovered an interest in philosophy and has been reading all over the place. He is reading a ton of stuff he would have probably balked at if assigned. I'm keeping track of what he is doing and may eventually call it a course or an independent study. 

I look at some of the skills he will need for college as separate. He needs to learn to manage time, write an essay, follow a syllabus, etc. But I don't feel like he has to do that for every single subject and I think we can take four years to get there. So he has a few online classes and those are the ones I have him follow deadlines and a schedule. Stuff for me I allow to be more flexible and go with what he is interested in. 

But like I said...I have no idea what colleges will think when it comes to making him a transcript. It just became really evident early on that for him to enjoy high school we were going to have to be non-traditional. And I think we are going to have to emphasize that his choice to homeschool allowed for a lot of self-guided learning and embrace the weird and quirky nature of his choices. It's very different than my other two, but hopefully it will work out. 

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3 hours ago, Kristini2 said:

Thank you! She is a hard one to figure out as she has a lot of interests. She could be an engineering major or comp sci which almost certainly puts the state flagship university out of reach. Our friend has a son who got waitlisted with almost perfect SAT scores, an 4.0+ gpa, and years of taking comp sci courses as a high schooler at the same university that waitlisted him. She could go pre-med as she’s always been interested in how bodies work as well as in helping people. She could also go to art school as those are the things that bring her joy. She’s almost done with her freshman year of high school and neither she nor I have a reasonable guess as to what she wants to do if dance doesn’t work out. I’m guessing her best bet is to find a school that is good in a lot of areas and where it is easy to change majors. 😂 

A young teen not knowing what she wants to do with the rest of her life is normal.  That is one of the reasons schools require students to take courses in multiple disciplines.  

Don't discount the flagship on the basis of someone else's experience.   There are many, many, students with near perfect standardized test scores, high GPAs and AP/DE credits.  Extracurricular activities are a key factor in college admissions decision-making.  It is better to have slightly lower grades and strong extracurricular activities than straight As and nothing else.  Not taking many AP or DE courses because the student wanted more time to explore an area of interest can be explained in an essay or interview.  Colleges want students who are going to do more than simply attend classes.  They want students who will be active participants in campus life.  They also want diverse student bodies.  Your friend's son not getting in could be as simple as the school having had too many local applicants and wanting to offer seats to out-of-state students. Or too many computer science majors or a number of other reasons.  

Have you considered calling this year 8th grade?  You said she wants to graduate at 16.  That is very young.  Even 17 is young.  Some students are ready, others would really benefit by having more time.  If you called this year 8th grade, you could include Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, and Chinese I and II on her transcript as high school credits completed prior to 9th grade.   That would provide room in her schedule for extra electives while still allowing time for all requirements to be met without requiring a fifth year of high school.  You could track her credits both ways for now and decide what makes the most sense closer to the end of next year.     

My best ideas for fitting video game development into a a standard course load are: 1) Computer science in lieu of science.  If next year is her sophomore year, she either doubles up on science in 11th or 12th grades or has just three sciences on her transcript.  If next year is her freshman year, she takes science in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades and her 8th grade biology makes a 4th high school science.  2) Integrate English and US history programs.  Assigned readings in US literature serve both courses.  3) Start one or two of her courses during the summer.  Continue at her own pace through the school year and into next summer as needed.  4) 6 credits: 1 each in fine arts, computer science, English, social studies, Algebra II, and Chinese.  If next year is freshman year, you could also give 1 credit PE for dance.  If sophomore year, she already has her PE credit, so dance is an extra-curricular activity.

 

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Are you comfortable with running your own homeschool classes, or do you feel like you need to outsource?  If you are willing to DIY, there is a LOT you can do with even that list of bunny trails you posted.  Figure out the skills she needs, then organize the content around her interests with output being the skills you think are important. 

 

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Sherry in OH said:

Have you considered calling this year 8th grade?  You said she wants to graduate at 16.  That is very young.  Even 17 is young.  Some students are ready, others would really benefit by having more time.  If you called this year 8th grade, you could include Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, and Chinese I and II on her transcript as high school credits completed prior to 9th grade.   That would provide room in her schedule for extra electives while still allowing time for all requirements to be met without requiring a fifth year of high school.  You could track her credits both ways for now and decide what makes the most sense closer to the end of next year.

 

Thank you for the advice. We will encourage my youngest to apply to the schools that interest her, even if they seem like a long shot, so if she wants a large, close university she can certainly go for the public flagship. And honestly, I'm not at all worried about her knowing what she wants to major in yet, it just makes it harder to research the criteria at different schools. Her older sister will be a freshman in college in the fall, and she doesn't yet know what she wants to major in.

We have 100% considered calling this 8th grade. When we let her skip sixth (having already been young for grade) we actually told her that we would revisit the topic at the end of her "sophomore" year. We made sure that she knew calling going back wouldn't be a sign of failure just more of what was a "right fit" for her at that time, just as letting her skip 6th was the right decision at the time. Now that's she's home retroactively deciding this was her 8th grade year would be even easier than when she was still in school. If she does dual enrollment in this state, that is when we would have to get involved with the public school system and officially put her in a grade. If she does graduate at 16, she would expect to take a gap year, likely continuing to train in dance, but either way she would still wait a year before going away to college. I wonder how much a college would let us roll up in her transcript? She's done everything at a high school level for the last couple years. We wouldn't do it all, but at least geometry, biology. and two years of Chinese, especially since she wants to be done with Chinese after next year and I'm having a hard time finding Chinese classes at higher levels, though I haven't checked all the local community colleges yet. I'm sure she'd love to count her geography as well, though she is very interested in other social sciences like psychology so I'm sure she could easily get three credits without the geography.

Also, thanks for the ideas of how to fit everything in. So much to think about!

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So options:

4 years math: just do the standard

4 years English: The key skill is obviously writing. But you don't have to to literary interpretation.  You can analyze non-fiction, or you could focus on Rhetoric instead of literary analysis. So learning how to write for different purposes and audiences, rather than learning how to write literary analysis papers. My boys learned how to write essays that could be published in Scientific American, the Economist, and National Geographic. This could be targeted to dance and art.

3 years science: The key skill is comprehension, synthesis, short answer writing, and mathematical modelling. Biology - you can do neurobiology for sure. Physics - you could do the physics of human anatomy which is critical to a dancer. Chemistry - you could physiology. 

4 years social science: critical skill is writing, synthesizing, researching, and referencing.  Check the schools, but you can go very very broad with topics here. I'll go get my younger boys social science courses and post them. Just a sec....

4 years art: obvious for you.

Electives: more art, more social science, more of whatever she loves. 

 

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Here are my younger boy's DIY social studies classes. You can do a lot with a kid who is motivated.  Each one of them required massive research, and between one and four 15 page research papers, which I deemed an important skill for his future goal of being a geographer.   

1cr World History - with trade books

1cr Geography - with trade books (Guns, Germs, and Steel + Collapse, NZ Geographic, National Geographic) 

1cr The Social, Economic, and Political Impact of Colonialism on Africa

1cr Physical and Cultural Geography of the Mackinzie Basin, NZ

0.5cr NZ Demographics (comparing the causes and consequences of European vs Māori demographics over 150 years)

0.5cr The Causes and Consequences of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami - (the physics of waves, the immediate response, and the long term social and economic impact. This course also studied how International aid agencies work.)

0.5cr The history of Early NZ 1800-1840 (Pre Treaty of Waitangi -- the founding document of NZ)

1cr Māori worldview, values, and protocols. (This is what we are currently studying - also includes some history and language)

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11 minutes ago, lewelma said:

Are you comfortable with running your own homeschool classes, or do you feel like you need to outsource?  If you are willing to DIY, there is a LOT you can do with even that list of bunny trails you posted.  Figure out the skills she needs, then organize the content around her interests with output being the skills you think are important. 

 

A big part of why she is home and not still at the school is that we realized she needed something different. Chinese will 100% be outsourced, as I don't speak any Chinese. Math will likely also be outsourced. She has been doing Derek Owens, and it has worked well for her so far. The rest I am willing to do some research, work with her and anyone else I can find to come up with a good game plan. I like the idea of coming up with specific outcomes and working through her interests to get there. 

4 minutes ago, lewelma said:

So options:

These are great ideas!! Thank you!! 

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For chemistry, he did research papers on :

How batteries work

The environmental impact of microplastics

The causes and consequences of ocean acidification

The historical development of soap and detergent and the environmental impact of each

The history of fertilizer development and the consequences of limited phosphate reserves

How fracking works and the environmental impact

You can use questions to drive the understanding of a topic.  For kids who love to explore a topic, a deeper question can drive them to understand the basics of a topic, rather than just reading and memorizing a dry textbook. 

 

 

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So, I have thoughts on this as I have a dancer who is a current junior and is also seeking to go the professional route. I think you got some good thoughts about your academic questions, but I'll chip in some other thoughts about the dance path.

Obviously this is just my take, but a friend who mentors musicians really helped me reframe how I think about this. Her whole thing is that having a plan B is basically dumb. If you have a good plan, then it encompasses lots of potentialities. And that people who have a "plan B" don't tend to make a very good plan A. I would say also... dance is not a forever plan for hardly anyone. But unlike visual arts or really the vast majority of other disciplines, it is a route with a very big clock attached. You cannot go back and do it later except for pure enjoyment.

With that in mind, we have prioritized dance, not academics, especially this year as ds started in a trainee program, which is very time consuming. His plan is to push himself for as long as he can in dance and then when that path ends because he doesn't have any more room to advance or opportunities dry up - then he will go to college. We're not entirely in control of when the opportunities dry up, so it's the time frame that is up in the air. But the plan isn't really. The plan is dance first, academics later.

Practically speaking, he will begin very slowly earning his associates degree next year and continue that while dancing. When he's ready for college, he'll be a transfer student. He has zero interest in studying dance in college. He wants to go to school for business or marketing.

For your dd, I would say if dance is the goal, then it's pretty important to push dance. If she can handle dance and academics, do both, but I find that junior year is a real watershed for kids with this. The kids in ds's circle seem to mostly either leave dance or leave school (and homeschool, usually with really basic online programs) junior year. Junior year is hard and important for college... But 16 is when dance often really ramps up for kids if they're in classical training. You might have a bit of an edge there with her having skipped a grade, but these are things to consider.

In terms of college... she could have good but not amazing academics and get into some of the top college conservatory programs for dance. It's audition based for the most part. There are young people in companies who go this route. If she's a modern dancer, that's actually pretty common. For ballet, it's not so much, but it's becoming more common. A member of young company spoke to the trainee kids (kids... some of them are like actual adults) at ds's program about the benefits and challenges of this route. She's glad she took it, but it was clear she's out of sync with everyone - she had to be dancing at a super high level in college so she was always pushing harder there since most college dancers are not bound for companies and now she's a little older than most of the rest of young company and has had a different life experience. Of course, if you do it the other way around - trainee and then junior company somewhere and then never make company and head to college, you're also out of sync. So it's just something to know, I think. Ds has struggled with this a little looking ahead. He doesn't want to stop his path, but it's been a stress for him as he thinks about the future that he's not on the same traditional path as "everyone." Of course, lots of people aren't! But it's rough when you're trying to figure out life as a kid with limited experience.

Getting back to the academic question... I've tried to make sure ds can 1) get through a relatively traditional math path. Right now, we're pushing to make sure pre-calc gets finished strong this year. 2) write. Because there's nothing more important than that. I've had high standards for things in the past and this year has really pushed up against that. He's not that academic - it's not just a lack of enjoyment, he's not a super academic kid. So I've had to really dial back and let things be more relaxed and remember that's important. His biology credit for this year is going to be quite a hodge podge of stuff, for example.

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Thank you, Farrar. It is so hard to find the right balance when they have a passion that is very time consuming, must be done when very young, but there is no clear path forward. Like you said, she plans to pursue dance as long as it makes sense and does plan to go to college eventually, whether that is a class at a time as she is training and/or dancing professionally or full time once she moves on from this path. Who knows at this point?!? Thank you again for some much more to consider as we ponder her next steps!

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8 hours ago, ElizabethB said:

One of the highest paying fields in the drawing area is medical illustration, most artistic types are not good at science and/or don't enjoy science.

https://www.ami.org/medical-illustration/learn-about-medical-illustration

You can count any high school level subjects on a transcript either way, subject or year, if done in middle school. 

We have talked about medical illustration as it combines her love of drawing with her love of body related things. Good to know it pays well! Thank you!

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