Tips for Families Chock-Full of Visual and Performing Arts May 2013
By Lee Binz
Some kids just LOVE the arts, and get SO passionate about it that they end up with multiple credits of fine arts every year of high school. You know, that’s GREAT! It shows the unique aspects of your child, their passions, interests, pursuits. That’s what colleges just love! The problem, though, is getting the rest of the stuff done!
It can seem almost impossible to achieve the balance between providing children the subjects they love and making sure they also get the subjects the need. One mom confessed, “I feel as though I am running a performing arts school. My daughters cannot get enough of the arts: acting, dancing, art, voice, music, creative writing, UGH! I am worried about trying to squeeze in all the important and required subjects for their high school transcripts in between all the arts. Academics are important to me and my daughters are very capable, bright and focused, but they just seem so passionate about the arts. I would hate to have them give up their time on these subjects. On the flip side, I don’t want to skimp on their academics and limit their choices for colleges and scholarships. I would like to know what is required for a performing arts school, and what that looks like on a high school transcript.”
Here are some tips for fitting it all into your 24-hour day. These will help you grab high school credit when you can, and enjoy the ride along the way!
Cover Core and Capture Delight
Learn how to put fabulous fun on your homeschool transcript and convert natural learning into high school credit with this free Ebook: How to Convert Delight Directed Learning Into High School Credit
You want to both cover the core classes and capture delight directed learning. Be sure to cover the core classes of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. Within those core classes, try to teach them in an interesting way that makes it more meaningful for your child. It’s possible to teach some core subjects with delight-directed classes, but make sure you cover the core one way or another. Once the core is covered, try to capture the delights of your child, and translate them into courses on your transcript. You don’t have to plan, or direct, or evaluate with tests or quizzes. Just capture the learning.
Big Rocks First
Once those core subjects have been done, it’s amazingly easy to add everything else your children will love doing, and chances are they will have plenty of time. If each academic subject takes 1 hour, then core classes may only take 4 hours per day.
Put in the most important things first, and you’ll have more time for fun. Academically, that means English, math, science, social studies. Once those core subjects have been done, it’s amazingly easy to add everything else your children will love doing, and chances are they will have plenty of time. If each academic subject takes 4 hours, then core classes may only take 4 hours per day. A child that loves the arts will be able to spend the rest of their free time doing everything they want with their music and performance. Sure they will be busy - anybody who is passionate about what they do will always wish for more hours in the day! But they will be able to get it done if they put in the big rocks of heavy academic subjects first. I know a young man who got up early in the morning to finish his academics before 9:00 am, so he could pursue his interests all day long. For encouragement, read the story of The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Cups of Coffee.Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
It’s good to be up-front about what your child is good at, and where they need encouragement. Art and Theater people are excellent in accruing fine art credits. They can often get some PE credits if they are involved in dance or marching band. They are often the kind of child who does well with English and foreign language classes. However, they don’t often tend to like math and science. So look at your child, and see what they like to do. Then look at the subject they avoid, or complain about. Even if they are successful in those subjects, and get A’s in class, you might still consider it their weak areas. That will help you take action, so you can make school smoother, more pleasant, and more effective in the long run.Weak Areas First
Your weak area is the first thing you do with your time. It’s the first thing your student does in the morning. It’s the one thing you make sure is done every single day. Even when a fabulous opportunity arrives, and all the other homeschool things get put on the shelf, this is the one thing you are sure gets done. You always take the time for it even when there is a field trip, activity, or 8-hour theater rehearsal that day. And your weak area is the first thing you do with your money. It’s the first curriculum that you buy each year, and the thing you are willing to spend the most money on. It’s the only thing you will be SURE to reinvest in if necessary. In other words, if you choose a curriculum and it doesn’t work, this is the area that you will make a second purchase – even within the first couple of months of school.Honest and True Transcript
When you are music and theater people, it can help to think about what would happen if your child was doing music and theater in a public school. Each class would be on their high school transcript, even though there is more than one fine art per year. The public school child might have Theater 1 credit, Band 1 credit, Choir 1 credit, and Orchestra 1 credit. That would be 4 credits per year. For homeschoolers, we can divide those musical/theater experiences into groups that we call ‘classes.’ Put each one as one credit. Another way of looking at it: if your children do theater every year, and it’s over 150 hours, then give them 1 credit of theater. If they also do the violin for 150 hours or more, then give them 1 credit for violin. If they ALSO do piano, and they do more than 150 hours of piano (not counting time they spend on violin), then you can give them 1 credit of piano.Have a Morning Meeting
Having a morning meeting can help. If you check in with your child each day, you can shape and mold their ‘responsibility index.’ A quick 15 or 30-minute check-in for core subjects each day can help you assess the situation and keep kids on task. It will help them so they do not ‘forget’ school for a week and suddenly fall hopelessly behind. A daily meeting is a great goal. In practice, of course, a day will be missed here and there. We are all busy people with busy lives, after all! But if you forget a day or two, you will still benefit. If you miss a few days, you can regroup and discover any missed assignments. If you tend to fall behind, or if you see your student overwhelmed by an insurmountable mountain of work, instituting a ‘Morning Meeting’ can be the perfect answer.Performing and Visual Arts Colleges
If your child is interested in music, art, theater, or dance, finding a college can be stressful. College admission requirements at performing arts schools vary greatly, so you need to check with each school to see their requirements. Some want to see heavy academics, and even advanced math, because students won’t get a lot of math or science once they are on campus. Other performing arts schools only require a general education, and their admission is based mostly on an art portfolio or performance audition. It really depends on what kind of degree a student wants, and what kind of college the student chooses to attend. To find requirements, looks for colleges that participate in Performing & Visual Arts College Fairs. You can find lots of information for fine arts possibilities on the NACAC website at www.nacacnet.org.Help Artists Be Prepared
There are some specific and concrete steps that may help artistically inspired students become prepared for any college or career. Complete the heavy academics in the morning, before lessons. English, math, science, and social studies might be best in the morning. Excessive car time is common with children that have multiple musical instructors and numerous performing events. Make use of car-schooling techniques by getting audio classes to enjoy. For example, look at history CDs like Ancient Civilizations: A Biblical World History Curriculum by Diana Waring. If that isn’t a good fit, consider The Great Courses, like The Foundations of Western Civilization.Some children are able to read in the car, or speak and listen to foreign language lessons in the car. Others are adept at using their computer or iPad for video lessons during long drives. Car schooling can be successful, but don’t forget to also teach your young adults to drive, and give them time to practice that skill as well.
Yes, your child loves fine arts! And that is awesome! You can emphasize strengths, shore up weaknesses, and provide a strong and well-prepared academic record. Including your child’s area of specialization can present them in the best possible light. Don’t shy away from subjects that inspire delight! Just be sure to provide a balance of preparation, so your child has unlimited possibilities.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the great information and inspiration! I am thrilled to have access to you and your expertise. It is a wonderful service you are offering. You help take some of the worry out of moving forward with high school. Armed with the plethora of information you provide I am really feeling excited about doing this "homeschool high school thing" plus I like a challenge. Thank you for your time and work on this.
~ Robin in Oklahoma, Gold Care Club Member
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Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee's FREE Resource Guide "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School" and more freebies at www.HomeHighSchoolHelp.com/freebies.