Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fall Learning Conversations

Fall has arrived. It arrived with a nip in the air three or four days ago. It's been so chilly the past couple of days that we've fired up the wood stove. Considering that we had a power failure one cooler-than-usual night in early July and lit a fire then for light and entertainment, it seems that this year we will have used the wood stove at least once every calendar month. Unbelievable! Usually we give up the fire by mid May and don't get back to using it until the second week of September. It's not that the summer was cooler or shorter than usual. We certainly had a fair share of hot days and will likely get a few more yet. It's just that the two peak-of-summer months have been bookended by some spuriously chilly spells. And yes, it feels very much like fall.

Fall also arrived in the guise of an e-mail I got yesterday saying that the local school had assigned one of their teachers the role of facilitating their new Distributed Learning program this year, and the teacher would like to meet with students and families this week, like, tomorrow maybe, to start work on Learning Plans. Which sort of blindsided me. I'm usually ahead of the game when it comes to learning plans, and had intended to get drafts started this week in anticipation of hearing from the school in a week or two once the academic year officially starts. That's what I've been used to with other DL programs. But no, this school is on the ball. They'd love to get started now. Tomorrow.

Erin will technically be considered an enrolled school student again this year, attending school to use the Facilitated Learning Centre (FLC) for on-line coursework according to her music schedule and general inclinations. Because she's on their roster as an in-school student, I don't have to do up a learning plan for her. In essence, though, what she's doing may not be all that different, except in degree, from what the middle kids are doing. Noah, Sophie and Fiona will technically be considered home-based learners at the same school, and will be welcome to use on-line high school courses offered via the FLC. Obviously that won't work for Fiona who may be a smart cookie but certainly isn't at a high school level yet, but Sophie and Noah likely will do a course or two through the school's on-line offerings.

So today I took Fiona and Sophie each out for a café date and we talked about their desires for the upcoming learning year. Sophie wants more independence from family and at the same time a bit of external help structuring her learning, which I think means it might be a good time for her to experiment with spending a little time actually in the school building using the Facilitated Learning Centre as an independent study lab. Fiona would love to be involved in a similar program aimed at Grades 3-7 students, but there isn't such a thing. Fiona's big changes are that she has given up aikido and piano. She took both on when her siblings were doing them; she was along for the ride, and figured if she was there anyway, she'd love to be involved in her own way. She started both two or three years ago. This past year she was the only kid in the family doing both pursuits, and she's decided that they're not giving her enough enjoyment to compensate for the over-scheduled weeks and hours upon hours of extra travel time. So she'll likely be staying a little closer to home this year. She's hoping to take advantage of whatever is available locally, though, and was thrilled today to hear about a series of fibre-crafting workshops for 7- through 12-year-olds starting in October.

Tomorrow is Noah's café date / Learning Plan meeting. I have a feeling this year needs to be a bit different for Noah. He responds well to being pushed a bit, though he resists it at first. It's always a delicate dance.

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