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for more than a quarter century

Getting ready for school

2016-02-23 15.37.50We’ve started the paperwork, the “Request for Transfer” into the bricks-and-mortar high school that Fiona wants to attend next year. Actually, she has started the paperwork; for whatever reason this kid loves filling out forms and isn’t afraid of a pen, so she has done it herself.

Really, though, this whole year has really been about getting ready to start school. We’re making an effort to formally document where she’s at so that no one can argue with requests for appropriate academic placement next year. Three years ago we laid the groundwork by accepting the offer of a double-grade-skip. This means that she is considered by the school system to be “in Grade 9” rather than Grade 7. We have kept her enrolled in Distributed Learning to preserve that placement, to ensure that she has an ongoing school record that confirms her accelerated grade level and that there’s no room for quibbling. We want her to be able to enter Grade 10 next year in a school that doesn’t know her from Adam without leaving any room for argument.

She has areas where she needs additional acceleration. For example, she completed the Grade 9 math school curriculum two years ago. She hadn’t done any official math curriculum work since then, but we knew that Grade 10 math next fall would be entirely review and lacking in challenge. So she decided to document her mastery of Grade 10 math this year by taking it as a self-paced course, writing tests and exams and getting the high school credit entered on her transcript. She did the same with Grade 10 Science. Now the only place the school can put her in those subjects is into Grade 11 courses.

And then finally we made a couple of strategic moves in the name of efficiency. She’s taking a couple of the required-but-(in-her-case)-annoying Grade 10 courses online this year. These are the Physical Education and Career & Personal Planning courses. For some students these might be really worth doing at school, but we couldn’t see the case for that with Fiona. For example, she is a kid who really dislikes team sports, yet takes part in a fantastic array of physical activities well in excess of what is expected for a PE10 credit. She has a terrific appreciation of principles of training, healthy living and so on. Rather than subjecting her to a single semester of co-ed team sports she dislikes which would likely reduce the time and energy she had for the sports she loves (this year dance, gymnastics, indoor climbing, aerial silks), we chose to leverage the things she loves. So she’s using the things she enjoys doing, and some additional project work, to get those credits out of the way.

All of this means that she should be able to enter a combination of meaningful and appropriately challenging Grade 10 & 11 courses next year without (we hope!) any questions or arguments from the school. We are hoping that they will allow her a spare block or two so that she has the time and energy to keep up her music and dance interests while adjusting to the very different lifestyle that school will demand she keep. Like Sophie was at this stage, Fiona is theoretically far enough ahead that she could compress her Grade 10/11/12 years into two. But also like Sophie she decided that would compromise the benefits of attending this larger fuller-featured school: being able to explore learning more broadly and deeply through electives and advanced / honours options. Graduating at 16 will be plenty soon enough!



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