Friday, September 28, 2012

School Year 2012/2013

Just a few weeks after returning home from the Dominican Republic, we began our new school year.
Though,to be honest, I struggle with routine and schedule and therefore we never really stopped schooling in the first place. When you don't keep to a schedule well,you lose the opportunity to actually stop at some point because you haven't started nearly enough.

Regardless, we began our new routine- the one a new baby in a month is going to blow to smithereens- a couple of weeks ago.
Haddon is in his second year of school and Aslan is in his third. We're doing a number of new things this year that we are really excited about. I am confident that these changes will benefit everyone in the family and make our homeschool journey look much more like what want it to.

Shepherd was far less impressed with our "first day of school" since we had to pull him away from his toys to get the photo:) I am still doing very little structured learning with him. We don't take the little years very seriously around here. I've never done much preschool with any of my kids. They have plenty of time to have to keep to a schedule and learn structure in their life. They learn so much just through playing and relationship at this age. Though, don't we all?

And besides, I figure whatever he really needs to learn at the tender age of 3 can be taught to him by my teaching assistant, Auggie.
As the other female in the house, she's very nurturing and committed.

As I've mentioned before, we try to make first day's of school kind of a big deal, especially because we've home schooled thus far. I LOVED first day's of school. I want the boys to feel as though these are days that are set apart. It's the same reason why I've stopped letting them do school in their play clothes or jammies. It's a wonderful option to have but I feel that even for me, getting dressed for the day gives me a sense that what I am doing today is possibly... um,important?

Anyway, we met daddy mid-day at McDonald's to get an ice cream sundae and celebrate the day with him.

This year is off to a great start and, as I mentioned before, there are some things were doing differently that I am very hopeful about.

For starters,
shirtless reading.

Ok, not really. But isn't that picture cute?!

This year we are involved in something my sister had the gumption to get started. We simply get to mosey on in and be a part of it because we're blood relatives and I know far too much dirt about her for her to not let me do whatever the heck I want.
And we're best friends.

This year we,along with 8 other families, are spending one day a week schooling our kids together. 4 of us will be teaching. This years subjects are "Communications," "Sign language," "Geography," and "science." My sister in law will also simultaneously do a full day of preschool with the younger siblings. And the other mommas have jobs like "leading our circle time" "purchasing all of our supplies" "coordinating all field trip and service projects," etc. 
So basically, all the jobs I have been trying to do in the homeschool journey but failing at because of my  measly one person-ness, are now dictated to someone else. And I don't have to feel bad about it for a second because I'm pouring my heart and soul into teaching their kids every week, along with anything else I can do to make this thing successful for all involved. 
So far, we've spent MONTHS planning and meeting and now have had 2 weeks of "Elon Co-op" school on Fridays under our belts.
In my opinion, it has been a HUGE success.

"Elon" is the hebrew word for Oak tree.  And since we are hoping that our lifelong investment in our children produces strong people, say like strong...oak...trees...oh forget it. Just read this.
The bible says it best in Psalm 1

"Blessed is the man1
who awalks not in bthe counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in cthe way of sinners,
nor dsits in ethe seat of fscoffers;
but his gdelight is in the law2 of the Lord,
and on his hlaw he meditates day and night.
He is like ia tree
planted by jstreams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its kleaf does not wither.
lIn all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like mchaff that the wind drives away."

The families involved are a diverse group of folks with unified hearts. All of our children are 3rd grade and under and everyone is giving every ounce of themselves to make this thing a success. I feel so very blessed to get to be a part of it.

For our family, this co op seeks to accomplish a number of things. For me personally, the biggest struggle in homeschooling is also one of the biggest advantages...flexibility. 
By nature, I am not a scheduled person, nor would I define myself at all as disciplined overall.
I generally bend more towards "going with the flow" of things...
as great as it can be at times to not live as a "slave to structure."
At other times, it means you become a "slave to flexibility."
Not knowing when to say, "no." 
Not knowing what things to do or not to do or even what your own limitations are. 
I have found that because I don't have "perfectionist" tendencies, I can easily let many other things creep into our lives and push school and other prioirites right out the window, landing us way further into the "unschooling" realm than I would like, if ya know what I mean. 
Life experiences? We got em!
Reading,Riting,and 'Rithmatic? another day!

So for me, the greatest advantage of something like this is the formality and structure it provides to our school week.

It also provides a portion of school like social interaction.

Not only do they get to build strong friendships in an environment of their own, but they get to experience the simple things like sitting under someone else's authority, listening to instructions, walking in lines, having assigned seats,etc.

I LOVED elementary school. I may be weird, but you couldn't get me to stay home sick if you wanted to. The feeling that I was getting up in the morning with somewhere important to go, friendships to enjoy, things to learn. Independence to be had. The world was my oyster... what ever that really means.
I loved it. 
Well, this experience provides some of those types of experience for my kids without sacrificing the relational time I so deeply desire the rest of the week with them.
It's a "best of both worlds" kinda deal for me.

It also simplifies the rest of my schooling week, because so many of the topics I would regularly be teaching at home are gained in "school" on Fridays.
Instead of feeling like I have to touch on everything, I can focus on math and reading and just touch on the things to prepare them for Friday, while letting my dear friends spend their time developing a dynamic lesson for my kids in this area.

So far, SO good!
We're very excited about this year and all of the opportunities God has given us to learn about each other,our world, and our Maker.
Here's to School Year 2012/2013 and all the adventures it holds... a new family member, new learning experiences, more time overseas next year. 
May we all have open hearts and open hands to see what God is doing in both the easy and the difficult, and grateful eyes to see the beauty in it all.

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