My eldest dd is in 2nd year at college, third year living on her own studying with her violin teacher, and is in a perfect groove. Doing well. I never hear from her; she's busy gigging on weekends, rehearsing her fingers off with her quartet, and also balancing it all with other pursuits: running, learning some basic Norwegian and Finnish (no idea why), socializing. She is waiting to hear on a sweet (and lucrative) cruise ship job next summer through an arts entertainment agency.
My middle two are 17 and 14 and have had a bit of a bumpy ride this fall. Their K-12 public school is tiny, with only 42 students in the high school end, no gifted program of course, and with only four part-time high school teachers allocated, they've moved to a experimental self-paced "independent directed learning" model this year with occasional [optional] week-long intensive electives and an outdoor education focus. They start every day with outdoor PE -- which is pretty hard-core here, since we're already getting snow and sleet. And then they have three hour-long blocks of what is essentially study hall, and one hour of "seminar" which is a multi-grade project or group tutorial in one academic subject, and then an hour of an elective course -- either in-school or elsewhere. They're getting almost no traditional classroom style learning. All of which is fine. My kids love self-paced learning, and hate waiting for the rest of the class to get stuff. They like being able to find a quiet corner and do a blitz on math for three hours or as long as their focus lasts, rather than having to repeatedly switch tasks.
But ... the school has not done a good job of giving the students support and feedback on their pacing through the courses. My kids have big serious course-loads this year and were working like maniacs, constantly worried they might be getting behind. Apparently, we found out a couple of weeks ago, the kids who were falling behind were being warned, but no one told the rest of the kids that no news was good news. Mine were opting out of electives, part-time work shifts, music gigs and social time for fear of getting behind. I think we've now got through to the teachers and principal: there are now recommended weekly checkpoints laid out. Phew! The way they're being communicated and documented is unwieldy but at least we're getting somewhere. The upshot of all their anxiety over lack of feedback is that they're way ahead, and excelling. They should be able to relax this term. They are both pulling straight A's. They love their teachers. They're turning out some amazing work. They're being granted time off and credit for their youth choir involvement in another community. There's some really good stuff happening.
But the other bumpy part is that the social milieu at the school has really unravelled this year. It seems to be rolling off my kids' backs; they're not playing games or getting wrapped up in it, but they find it really tiring and depressing to have to spend their days amongst the school's dominant group of devious and catty 14-year-olds. With such a small student body, a group of 8 or 10 can really poison the atmosphere, even if they're not being nasty to you in particular. The lack of maturity and empathy is appalling: I've witnessed some stuff first-hand that has left my jaw hanging open.
So, yeah. There it is.
Ds is in the throes of trying to sort out his post-secondary path. His talents and interests straddle the arts vs. STEM divide (music and computer programming, visual design and pre-med). He's going to spend a week next month auditing pre-med and digital media design classes at a nearby college. Maybe that'll give him a nudge one way or the other. He has the ability to do almost anything, but decisions are not his strong suit.
Dd10 has a 98% in 9th grade math. She goes to school only for math and occasional electives, being otherwise unschooled. She's the youngest kid by 14 months in the Grade 7/8/9 combined math seminar, is the most advanced in the curriculum, and has the highest grade. And it seems she's carrying it off without inviting bad feelings from other students. She's helpful when asked, she makes little self-deprecating jokes that help ease awkward situations, she's low-key about her precocity, and seems to be the sort of kid people have a hard time disliking. So it's working really well. Her unschooling continues to percolate along; no real changes there.
Sorry so long. My excuse is that I have four kids.