It's been awhile and I meant to blog about and reflect on our first year of homeschooling at the end of the year. Well, we've been busy this summer and I never got around to it. I can say that it was a year full of challenges, new things, new experiences, new friends, discovering gifts, uncovering weaknesses, and learning each other's strengths. We learned what works and what doesn't. We decided what we like and certainly what we don't like. We laughed and we cried. It was fun and it was difficult. I think we learned a lot and we definitely grew! Of all these accomplishments, the one that I am most proud of is that we saw it through. I will admit, it was very tempting to give up on several occasions when that yellow bus passed by the house in the afternoon and we were still sitting at our school table in tears over math. I had to pray my way through more than a few days, but I know the One who brought us through it. He called us to this life of living and learning together as a family.
As we move forward into our second year of home-centered education, I am encouraged, excited, and full of anticipation. I know God has many adventures in store. We are adding one more to our daily school routine. This year we have a brand new kindergartner. I think Aiden is the most excited of us all. I'm praying that God will remind me to focus more on the joy of learning and all the fun stuff that comes with that with Aiden this year. I have never homeschooled a kindergartner. My homeschoolers came to me already reading, so I am a little intimidated by the task of teaching a little one to read. I know he will do well. He has had a wonderful preschool foundation and is an eager learner.
Over the course of last school year, we did discover that the curriculum we where using was not working for us. I guess you could say that we had not discovered our "homeschool style" yet. Throughout the year, we changed up a few things until we were virtually not using much of anything we started with.
In the early stages of our discussions about homeschooling the kids, we met a family that was using Classical Conversations. We looked into it and liked what we saw, but we did not start with it for a variety of reasons. In January of this year, I felt that God was prompting us to take another look. We decided to be obedient, even though we knew it would mean a homeschool group change. The kids and I were loving GRACE Co-op and had made a lot of new friends, but I just knew that we had to explore this option one more time. We reached out to the director in Murphy, NC. As it turned out, the drive to weekly CC meetings would not be any further than to it was to co-op. We decided to go and observe a typical CC day. With in a matter of an hour, I was sold. It completely exceeded all of my expectations. The icing on the cake was how open, warm, and helpful every single mom and child was there. The kids jumped right in there to welcome Ashlyn and Aaron. They connected instantly. The moms were a wealth of information and encouragement.
One of the things that I discovered about myself was that I really had no desire to recreate "school" at home. I thought for sure that I would be a "school at home" homeschool mom. I was quite surprised when that just did not work for us. The classical education model is a bit different that the traditional model. It is way too complex for me to explain on this blog and I am sure that I would totally botch it, but I will try to give you some basics. I am using the Classical Conversations catalog as a reference.
The classical model can also be referred to as "Teaching the Trivium." We know that there are three stages of learning that we all go through in order to learn something new. The three stages are the grammar stage (memorizing the facts), the dialectic stage (discovering how the facts relate), and the rhetoric stage (applying the facts). The Bible even refers to these stages in Proverbs 24:3-4 as knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. How cool its that? God intentionally designed us to learn this way.
We have already made some new CC friends and now there are 3 families from Hiawassee, including us, who will be using this curriculum this school year. Sam and I hope to become very involved in CC at large. We attended a parent practicum in May and are very encouraged by all the support offered to CC parents and students. This movement is growing rapidly within the homeschooling community as parents begin to discover that the method works and that in the process of educating their children, they are also redeeming their own education. The best thing about Classical Conversations is their mission statement which happens to be our family's passion. "To know God and to make Him known." What a blessing!
Anna will be attending preschool at the Baptist church again this year. She will be in the 3 day 3's class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It is a great fit for her and she loves it there. It keeps her busy while we work at home. I am excited that she will be able to attend CC with us on Tuesdays. My plan is to bring her into Aiden's class for as long as her attention span can take it. Once she has had enough, I will just take her out to play in the nursery. I do believe that she will pick up a lot by just being around when we are working. CC is fun with all kinds of songs to help the kids engage and memorize the information. I have a feeling that she will have a hard time staying away when we are singing our history timeline songs.
Avery has become more mobile since we started homeschooling last year. He sometimes presents a challenge on our school days. I guess I will have to be a little more creative this year with ways to keep him busy. Thankfully he is becoming more interested in things like coloring and story time. I will continue to rely on the veteran homeschool moms in my life for tips on homeschooling with a toddler under foot.
While many are already returning to school, we still have a little bit of summer left. Our CC group starts on September 10th, but I plan on pulling the math and reading books out and dusting off the cobwebs in a week or two. It will probably take us at least a week of "practice" to get going. We did not accomplish as much as I would have liked this summer, but I am learning to not be so tough on my students and myself.
I've decided that each year I need to focus on a few areas for growth. Last school year, it was patience with my children, confidence in my abilities, and to just make it through the year. This year I want to learn to be more flexible, to be more free-spirited, and to reach out to moms just beginning the homeschooling journey.
I am very proud of my kids, my husband, and myself!
One year down and 17 more to go!