It’s the time of year we normally start planning our upcoming unschooling. We’ve found Learning Plans to be a useful tool in our lives. This year Sophie’s learning plan process started in July, and it looked very different from usual.
“I want to go to school,” she said.
She wants to be more tangibly productive. She wants to have a busy life outside our home. She finds a gap between her learning ambitions and her day-to-day productivity. She’s interested in more social opportunities, more structure to her learning and more outside accountability.
We know the guidance counsellor at the local public school, who also happens to be the administrator of the DL program our homeschooling has been umbrellad under. She’s a friend, a member of the local arts community, a fellow local volunteer and a long-time fan of my children for reasons that remain at least partly mysterious and wondrous to me. We met her for coffee at our favourite café in the middle of summer vacation to talk about the possibilities. We all came away from the meeting feeling good about things.
Because the school is so small, most of the classes are multi-grade, with the Grade 8’s combined with the 9’s and sometimes the 10’s as well. This works well for a 12-year-old who is all over the map in terms of academic level. She’ll be new to “writing to task” and timed tests and powerpoints and group projects. She’ll probably appreciate having some easier classes mixed in with some that are more at her level. She’ll enjoy the field trips, and the exposure to other people’s expectations.
She’ll also appreciate the flexibility to be able to travel to Nelson for choir, and to nip out for violin lessons, and to take certain blocks of time off for practicing or family travel. And I know she’ll benefit from knowing that schooling is a choice for her, something she does because it’s giving her something she wants. If that ever changes she knows she’ll be welcome to return to homeschooling, or to scale back her involvement in the school. (Once she’s registered in Grade 10 part-time attendance officially comes onto the table as a possibility.)
And so a new adventure begins. My first full-time school student sallies forth in three weeks.