Because two of Erin's friends are graduating from the local K-12 school this year, she was invited to the grad ceremony, and her interest was piqued by talk during the awards part of the ceremony of the Facilitated Learning Centre. The FLC offers a wide range of high school courses in a very loosely structured computer-lab / self-directed classroom environment, individually paced and open-ended, with no attendance requirements. In a high school of ~40 students, classroom-based course offerings are, as you can imagine, very minimal. The school offered no Grade 12 science classes this year, for example. So the FLC fleshes things out by providing students with pre-packaged self-directed courses.
Erin has decided she would like to try taking two or three courses next year to add some structure to her week. She'd set up a schedule for herself of what days/times she'd go, and use some nearby space to practice her violin during the same away-from-home stint. She's trying to replicate for herself the kind of environment that she's thrived in during summer music workshops ... a university-like set of expectations without high levels of teacherly control, situated in a learning environment apart from home. She finds that this motivates her to apply herself during the specific times she's carved out for herself from her day.
We went for a tour today. The teacher's aid who showed us through assumed a Dogwood (BC governmental high school diploma) was the goal and was first astonished and then delighted to hear that Erin is not interested in a Dogwood and yet still has confidence that her future/post-secondary academic prospects will be wide open, that anything is possible via a self-directed, learner-motivated, off-the-beaten path track. He seemed really open-minded.
Next I called the guidance counsellor to discuss the possibility. I explained Erin's disinterest in jumping through the hoops required for a Dogwood and the possibility of her taking, oh, say, Fiction Writing 12, Biology 11 and/or Psych 11 as a Grade 9'er by age, without any previous schooling. And coming and going at will, missing all of January & February, every Tuesday, and every 4th Thursday & Friday, and any other day she has something more important to do. Amazingly enough the counsellor was receptive, even enthusiastic. Part-time enrollment is not legally provided for by the Ministry of Education, so Erin may either be a full-time student with copious 'excused absences' or else advanced to Grade 10, from which point part-time enrollment is allowed. The principal, as is normally the case, is the rule-stickler. We'll have to see what transpires as this proposal moves up to the next rung on the approval ladder.
For whatever reason this doesn't feel at all momentous to me. It doesn't feel like the end of an era, or a shift away from homeschooling, or unschooling, or like 'sending her off to school for the first time', or anything of the sort. It feels like a fairly natural progression -- a case of applying some of the format that works well for her in her music studies to a couple of academic areas, on her terms. At this point it's tentative, but I think it'll be good for her if it works out. But not the end of the world if it doesn't.