Last week Sophie and Fiona went to school. It was the week of the Arts and Writers Festival at the local public school, the one that umbrellas us as homeschoolers under their DL program. So they were invited to join the school classes for the week. We looked over the line-up of offerings and the girls were keen. There was felting, and pottery, and puppetry, and an aboriginal story-telling event, and an art workshop. Monday and Tuesday were fully-scheduled days. Wednesday and Thursday the festival comprised just an hour or two. Wednesday evening was the Coffee House, an exhibit of artwork and roster of music and puppetry performances and readings of creative writing. Tuesday afternoon and evening included two local performances by Corazón, one at the school and one at the hall, which we all attended of course. Soccer practice and violin lessons had to squeezed in there somehow too. It would give us a taste of the time constraints school would place upon us if they were attending full-time, though as Sophie pointed out, we we would be trying to fit school into a pre-existing homeschooling life, which would make it more of a juggle.

This was the first almost-full-time taste of school for both girls. Way back in 2004 Erin gave school a try for a couple of days in order to find out if it was something she’d like to consider for herself full-time the following year. I quietly spent a couple of days worrying that she might be keen on enrolling, but it turned out she wasn’t. With Fiona and Sophie attending last week I wasn’t at all worried that they’d decide they wanted to attend school. I don’t really worry about that sort of thing any more. But I was curious what they would think about the whole experience.

Fiona joined the Grade 3/4’s for the week. With her January birthday she’s “old” for Grade 2 and a much better match socially and intellectually for the 3/4 class than the K/1/2 group, and fortunately the teachers knew her well enough to recognize that. She got along famously with the group and had a lovely time, especially enjoying the puppetry and pottery. She would love to attend something like that every week but recognized that normal school is not like the Festival week. She said “If I ever did school it would definitely just be for the socializing.” While in the past I’ve tried to keep my kids out of most grade-levelled curriculum materials, in some ways it is nice that Fiona is aware that she’s doing Grade 6 science and math content: she realizes that a regular school classroom would not allow her the flexibility to pursue these areas of passion at a level that challenges her.

Sophie and her best bud (also unschooled) joined the Grade 5/6/7’s for the Festival week. They had fun together, typically working side by side and pairing up for collaborative projects. I’m not sure Sophie would have enjoyed it as much without her friend there. The social dynamic in the older portion of that classroom has a strong peer-oriented girl culture running through it, and Sophie doesn’t resonate terribly well with those kids. Still, she had a good experience with the activities, though not compelling enough to pine for even the social and enrichment-activity-related perks of school.

The coffee house was long, crowded and tiring after a number of long days, but it was a nice way to cap off the week. And I admit that it is nice to feel a bit more connected to the community of other families and children. Fiona followed up with a playdate on the weekend with a new friend, and I saw a lot of nice people I don’t see very often.

Festival Week at School