Dd17 is living independently in a big city (Montreal) on the other side of the country and doing just great. She has no family, no adult supports, no college structure or school-style 'soft landing', just figuring it out on her own. There have been a few wrinkles. There has been a major conundrum getting internet service, and it still isn't connected, which is a problem since she is supposed to be doing her schooling on-line and is now almost a month behind during her graduation year. But she's learned how to call customer service and advocate for herself! And she was mugged in the subway, had her iPhone and only means of communication stolen -- not hurt, nothing else taken, but a major (expensive!) pain nonetheless. Anyway, she's third chair in the city's most advanced student orchestra, preparing for their tour of China, picking up French like crazy as rehearsals are entirely francophone, is working on an hour-long performance program for violin performance/scholarship auditions in January/February for university next year, managing all the business of independent living, picking up occasional gigs to help pay the rent and such. Her repertoire for the auditions: Bach Chaconne, Wieniawski Concerto, Kreisler Tambourin Chinois, one of the Mozart Concertos. Great stuff!
Ds15 is the one who has blown me away recently. Over the past few years he's shown himself to be highly introverted, perfectionistic, underachieving, procrastinating, anti-academic, avoidant and dysgraphic, and very comfortable hiding in the shadow of his high-achieving older sister. However he recently decided to attend high school part-time, after a lifetime of unschooling. And the transformation has been amazing! He is now seeing his abilities in some sort of rational light. The validation he's getting from teachers and peers at school has been overwhelming. He has become a de facto leader of 10th grade and an idolized role model for the 8th and 9th graders who hang on his every word. As the English teacher mentioned last week in writing me about an non-school-related matter "Your 'shy' little boy, wow! He sauntered into school, grabbed centre stage and hasn't let go!" About his participation in the major cross-curricular project of the past term: "He literally "held court" most of the week with his group and a growing number of other students. I can't believe his zeal for social connection and his artfulness in being so kind and supportive of others while also leading. Very exciting to see him in action." He is completing his giftedness and OT assessments this morning, coincidentally. These were requested last winter, back when he was still homeschooling, and have been expedited by the school due to his issues with written output, but he's thriving using his laptop and isn't the slightest bit self-conscious about it so the assessment turns out to be just a bit of necessary hoop-jumping to get him permission to use a laptop during standardized exams.
Dd12 is doing well in her first year of school too. She's doing 8th grade with 9th grade science and 10th grade math and seems to be doing just fine. It's hard to know exactly how they're performing, as the teachers for all three of my older children are in the midst of a protracted labour dispute and no grades are being issued, and none of the standard parent-teacher conferences or curriculum nights are being held. I'm not at all grade oriented, so I don't find it particularly troublesome not to have this information, but it is a little odd to have two of your kids start school at advanced levels for the first time ever, never having had any experience with assignments or tests or grade-levelled structured academics, and to get absolutely no direct feedback about their performance. I trust when they say they're doing well and learning lots and finding the work to be easily mastered ...
Dd8 is off on a non-academic jag, after spending the first month of her siblings' schooling lapping up plenty of bookwork. She has kept up a bit of math work and is within a month or so of finishing Singapore Math 6B, which covers stuff at the pre-algebra level. Every once in a while I harbour little doubts that maybe she's just memorizing mathematical procedures without the level of understanding Singapore Math purports to teach but then she manages to quickly solve a new style of problem, like this, without using algebra, just her own mental math and deduction skills:
"Sumin buys 27 comics and 12 magazines for a total of $126. Three comics cost as much as two magazines. How much does each comic cost?"
And then I shake my head in wonder and accept that it's okay, she understands what she's learned, since she can apply it all, logically and creatively, in new ways. We'll spend the rest of the year doing a program of math enrichment for gifted middle schoolers rather than rushing to move into a high school program. Her real passion these days is for science: populations biology and chemistry especially.
She's off visiting her big sister in Montreal for three days (her dad, attending a conference nearby, is able to deliver her there and pick her up). She's thrilled with the idea of living for a short time without any grownups in a big city, taking the metro, shopping, cooking, phoning home to chat, saying "bonjour" and "merci" in shops ...