15 February 2014

Home. School. Classical(ish).(the intro post)

My husband and I knew that God was asking us to homeschool our children back when our first child was just a little one.  My husband and I are both the kind of people who love, love, love learning.  And though I loved the social aspects of school and both of us were good students, we found Excitement generated by the actual learning within the public school context to be the exception rather than the norm. We wanted our kids to love absorbing and mastering information, but we also wanted them to learn character lessons and how to serve others.  And, when it came down to it, we wanted to be the ones teaching them these things. So we decided to homeschool.

But, honestly, I was not a great homeschooler.  (I'll detail some of the reasons why in a later post.) So, when my eldest was getting ready for second grade and we found an affordable and excellent classical school in a city near us, we jumped at the chance to enroll.  
First day of school 2013
Aletheia School was the biggest possible blessing for me and my children.  Because the teachers are primarily volunteer parents, I had the opportunity to teach my children, and other children. Because of patient colleagues who explained processes and programs to me, I understood more about how a child learns and the discipline required to teach.

And while my children were learning from amazing Christian role-models, I learned some important things about myself. I discovered, personally, that I love teaching.  And I found that structure and routine is life-giving to my scattered and creative brain. I also realized that my internal script that says that I'm lazy is not necessarily true and that I really can wake up early, teach a lot, and engage my children.  On the negative side, I found out that while I'm a good teacher, my natural bent is to be a terrible disciplinarian, that I have a major weakness in communicating expectations to my students, and that follow-through will always be a challenge to my big dreams.  I'm glad to know all of that as we move forward.

After the death of our fifth child in utero in December, our family has needed the peace offered by Home in a way we haven't really experienced before.  We have found that the stress of being gone all day is taking a toll on the relationships in the family at a time when the relationships in the family need to offer refuge.  I was reluctant to give up our involvement at school, but knew that God wanted me to put that on the altar. As soon as we did, it was clear that homeschooling was the way forward.

Because our school has been so helpful for all of us, we plan to try to keep up with the curriculum and pace of the school.  This is definitely not how many homeschoolers do school, but the accountability offered by an outside schedule is very helpful for us.  Similarly, a curriculum that provides an already-chosen core offers this mother-who-loves-aspects-of-all-curriculum a solid starting point. 

What this means is that we will have three kids on completely different paths and a squirly preschooler.  I'm ok with that, for now. We'll see how it morphs later in the year.

The 'ish' part of the our tagline comes from the fact that I am not do-or-die about any part of homeschooling.  If something really isn't working for us, we'll re-evaluate and try something else. Our youngest will be at a very non-Classical preschool two or three mornings a week.  The kindergartner will be formally learning reading,  math and handwriting. Whatever she picks up from the others' Bible, Science and so on is fine with me. The eldest (fourth grade) will be almost entirely self-taught with the help of curriculum on video. Again, I'm ok with that. We'll also be incorporating various liturgical celebrations and traditions, circle time, read alouds, memory songs, and tons of art. I'm not sure how much of it would fit into an "ideal" Classical model. Honestly, I don't care.

Schola McStewium
The name of the blog is a little joke that has become a reminder to me to not take things too seriously. "Schola" comes from the name of the classical schools, of course, and "McStewium" is our abbreviated last name, made far more dignified by adding a Latin ending.  I tend to be a perfectionist.  The name of our homeschool is intended to keep us all focused on the big picture, not the fussy details.

I'm excited that we are at this signpost at this stage of our journey.  Our path has been pretty extraordinary so far and I'm confident that it will be a thrilling ride in the future, too.

I'd be grateful if you'd travel along with us for a while. We'd love the company.