For the first time all four of my kids are officially enrolled in school.

Fiona (12) is enrolled one-quarter time, taking two courses at the local school. She’s doing math and science for two hours on each of Monday and Tuesday mornings. Age-wise she’s Grade 7 age, placement-wise she’s “in” Grade 9, course-wise she’s taking the Grade 10 courses in these two areas, and classroom-wise she’s in with all the Grade 10, 11 and 12 students. And funnily enough her main beef with the classroom experience is the immaturity of the other students. But she likes the teachers and the structured expectations, and can self-pace through much of the material, which is close to her level and occasionally challenges her, so I think it will probably work well.

For the rest, she is in a distributed learning home-based program through SelfDesign. The “program” is really just a system for reporting on whatever self-led learning she does. She likes the liaison teacher we report to, and we are hopeful that she’ll enjoy some of the camps and retreats that are offered to SelfDesign high school students. So this means that the remainder of her week is free. We are making a quick trip to Nelson on Monday afternoons for violin lesson and ballet classes. Then we head down again Wednesday afternoon for more ballet classes and stay through Thursday (for gymnastics) and Friday (for more ballet). And in the midst there’s time for plenty of other stuff: home-improvement projects, practising violin, watching movies, reading, writing, cooking, helping Sophie with her newspaper route, trips to the library, scouring thrift stores, whatever works. She is planning to attend school full-time in Nelson next year, so the combination of classroom time and Nelson time will serve as a good segué I think.

Sophie (16) is in her final year of high school in Nelson. She is flush with credits already but is broadening and deepening her transcript while participating in all sorts of other things. She’s got the aforementioned paper route, she’s mentoring 10-t0-13-year-old singers in a youth choir, she has her own longstanding choir, she’s auditioning for another one, she is working as an official TA in a Grade 11 math class as well as doing some out-of-timetable tutoring, she’s got gymnastics twice a week, after-school AP Physics 2 classes weekly and an on-line Spanish course she’s doing on the side. And of course she is dealing with all her own meals and housekeeping and the like. It sounds like a lot but it seems to all fit neatly into her week, and she still has her weekends mostly free so that she can come home if she likes.

Noah is in his second year at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology. He’s discovered that he has a real gift for coding as well as excellent skills in digital design, a combination that is pretty rare and will probably make him ultimately very employable. He has two of the toughest courses on his schedule this semester, so I haven’t heard from him much. He is living in a shared house in New Westminster this year, closer to public transit and to stores and other amenities, so hopefully that’s simplifying his life a little.

Erin is in her last year at McGill. She’s got a nice scholarship, and most of her major requirements already fulfilled so she’s filled her schedule up with a lot of ensemble playing. She’s also freelancing a bit, playing with Pronto Musica, a new Montreal chamber orchestra that’s doing some pretty nice work. She’ll be auditioning for Masters programs her teacher feels would be suitable, likely in the US, following the scholarship money hopefully! She’s planning to continue her Suzuki teacher training (which she began last year) so that she can do some teaching on the side as she continues her performance studies.

The school year, times 4

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