Sunday, September 25, 2011

Multi-generational education

Since enrolling my kids in a homeschool charter at the beginning of this school year (just about a month ago)...I've had a chance to see what I now strongly believe education SHOULD look like. Multi-generational.

NOT segregating specific age groups and having them in a classroom with just one or 2 adults...but the WHOLE FAMILY being involved! My kids now get to go to classes which might be similar to their public schooled peers (although I like to think these classes are higher quality...) BUT the difference is that they only have to go to a 2 per day/2 days a week (this is what I have chosen for them...other families will pick differently. The classes are entirely optional.) AND there are ALL AGES on the grounds at all times!

I LOVE watching the children in between classes (and even IN the classes sometimes, as siblings sometimes accompany mom/dad into the classroom to watch big brother/sister) playing with all ages...even babies and toddlers! There are even the occasional grandma/grandpa, and there's more than a couple dads. It varies day to day, but on any given day, the children on the property are surrounded by MANY loving adults, many of whom they know quite well! (As time goes on, I expect to continue to get to know more and more of these families...we're still quite new.)

Its truly heart warming. And makes me realize that THIS is what I've been wanting! Multi-generational education!

This week there are no classes but instead a family class and field trip! On Tuesday we will get together with friends of all ages at the school and learn about caves...Then on Friday, all of the families that attended the class will be taking a field trip to the Crystal Caves! Adam even took the day off of work!

This is really just so exciting to me. THIS is what I've been missing. THIS is what I've been wanting for my kiddos. I'm not at all interested in sending them away to school. I want to be a part of it! But not JUST me. I have wanted a community. And even though now I have to drive an hour to get to it, I finally have this.

I'm still sad we couldn't create something like this here in Fresno...but I'm happy that I have access to it anyway. Its well worth the hour long drive.

And having the accountability of having to report to someone what my kids are doing (but in a pretty relaxed manner...I simply have to show that we are covering all subjects. Its much simpler than I had originally thought.) has really helped me to get on top of things. Before I had a hard time getting anything done regularly...It was here and there and while we certainly did a lot of educational things (I mean, heck, Maeven's a little book worm and Tyren is picking up both math and reading REALLY FAST, so I must be doing SOMETHING right!) it wasn't anywhere near the level that *I* wanted it to be.

I don't care about the standards. I just care about MY standards. And I wasn't happy with what we were accomplishing. Now I am MUCH HAPPIER. This seemed to be just the kick in the butt I needed to be able to get a schedule going and maintain it, for the most part. I'll probably never be a really strict, structured homeschooler. I don't really want to be. And I know I will NEVER follow the schedule of learning that the public schools use...but I am feeling MUCH better about how I'm able to keep things moving forward now. And we're having FUN!!

And, a side benefit seems to be that when I keep the kids busier during their day, they fight a bit less. Still happens, but I've definitely noticed a decrease in recent weeks since we started our new schedule.

The kids are still not entirely certain about all these changes...but they seem happy, for the most part. And they are adapting. In class, they seem to enjoy their times with new friends...and at home, the fighting with me when I ask them to do something is decreasing. (They do this whenever I present any new rules or things to do. So it wasn't a surprise.)

I'm really really glad I did this for our family! Now, hopefully, we can maintain our ability to pay for all this extra gas and wear and tear on our van!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Big changes for us

Yesterday we went to the "Welcome Back" potluck at ERCLC. Got to re-connect with old friends and make some new ones! It was very friendly and wonderful! I am feeling VERY good about this choice to try this charter. The drive is a bit much (one hour, one way, so 2 hours each trip), but we listened to an audiobook and the kids did just fine. I just have to remember to get plenty of sleep the night before because I was getting pretty sleepy on the way down!

The kids got right out there and played with others, which surprised me...both can be quite shy in a new environment. Luckily, we had gone to Lego Club a couple days prior and Tyren had reconnected with his little buddy Levi (who had played with him at park days when they were both toddlers), so once we got there I pointed out that Levi was there and Tyr was happy as a clam. He's such a social kid. He is constantly asking to play with one of his friends. I have to keep him much more active with playdates than Maeven. He craves it much more.

So Tyr hung out mostly with Levi, but also made some new friends (at one point he partnered up with a little girl and played in the dirt under the walnut tree with some dump trucks and got absolutely covered head to toe in dusty dirt. Too funny!) And Maeven, who I was concerned would hang around me the whole time and not interact, since she tends to be more shy in new situations than Tyr...took off and spent a bunch of time in the playhouse (which is covered inside with chalkboard paint and so is one big drawing board), made new friends and reconnected with her friend Leah, who we have known for awhile from Learning Village activities.

I got to hang out and talk to moms about ERCLC, and learn more about how much I'm going to love the place. Had a really nice time. Quite a few people came up to me and introduced themselves when they saw my "new" face, which was really nice! This is just what I was hoping for!

Met Maeven's science teacher...he seems really cool! Love that he came up and introduced himself to me! :)

I love that this is all working out so well...will continue to update as we get more situated. My mom has decided to fund our gas money so we can go 2 days a week! YAY MOM! :)  I was having a hard time decided which day to go...Tues and Thursdays are for the K-6 kids, and the classes are divided up evenly, so Tyr has art one day, Maeve on the other, and the same with every subject...Maeve science one day, Tyr the other...so I was really loathing having to decide which kid gets which class. So I'm very excited that Mom stepped up to help! And of course, Shauna and Keizo (& Remi) will be coming down with us on Tuesdays, so will split the gas for that trip weekly...so we just might be able to afford this afterall! I also found out its not every single week...they do 3 weeks of classes and one week off for coordinator meetings. But since our coordinators will work with us to plan our meetings during the weeks we are already down there, we will have a week off where we won't have to drive down there. (Except this month, when there is a cave class and trip to Crystal Caves! SO EXCITING! Adam is all jazzed and is taking the day off to go with us!)

Lastly, I got a few more books from the library for the kids. I had wanted to get a handwriting curriculum and check out some different grammar curricula to find something that wasn't boring. Found some stuff that looks promising. Had been talking via email with the librarian so she had helped me pick a few things...they are just so very helpful here!

Overall I'm very happy so far! Very eager to get started on classes next week so we can really get the full picture!