Well, the "gamble" paid off. The start was definitely rough, to the point where I seriously considered pulling her out and sending her back to her nice, relaxing, and "fun" public school. But, once the dust settled, Smarty started seeing things differently. She saw that her personal efforts are recognized and appreciated by teachers. She got much needed flexibility of doing math online at her own pace rather than in a classroom where she hated repetition. She found her own place in the social structure of a small school and she does not complain about not fitting in. In general, she seems happy, engaged, and in control.
It's not all roses and unicorns. Smarty still says that some classes are boring and that her middle school classmates, especially boys, are immature. Sometimes she is stressed about her homework even though she does quite well with handling everything on her own and in a timely manner. But she really likes her school and cannot imagine going somewhere else. She had no interest visiting other private schools or her assigned public school saying that she absolutely, positively wants to be in her current school for 9th grade.
If I am honest with myself, I am worried about her missing on "normal" high school experiences - like school dances, being in a big "gene pool" of ideas and interests, being exposed to more things. Obviously, a school with less than a hundred students cannot compete with a school of several thousands students in terms of both in-school and afterschool offerings. I worry, for example, that because of the number of teachers and classes available, Smarty might not be able to take exactly the classes she wants to take in the sequence she wants to take them. On the other hand, it would have been a big fight with a regular high school to allow her into AP classes in the 9th grade to begin with, while in her school each student's schedule is individually constructed based on their readiness level. I also realize that I need to look at things from Smarty's point of view and consider what she currently values in her school experience. She loves small classes and she is driven by her desire for knowledge and her desire to prove herself. She was given an ample opportunity to learn and grow and prove herself this year, and she happily took every challenge given to her and rose to every expectation. These high expectations is what I value most about her school and this is why I want to keep her there, so we will be bringing an "early renewal" check next week to the headmaster. It's not easy to find an environment for a highly gifted student that would fit that particular student, and I feel that right now we hit a jackpot. Of course, everything might change next year, but for now we are all set, with no big decisions and doubts looming over us - and for this I am grateful.
Do you plan any changes in your children's education next year?