We celebrated our first official day of school on Monday. We aren't sure yet what we're calling our little family education experiment, but we are dreaming big. We've spent the last three weeks easing into things, but this week we went official.
As a family, we decided we wanted to have uniforms to help set the tone each day. The girls chose three little outfits, which they can mix and match everyday, and lay out at night. This has relieved so many headaches and saved so much time (they are 100% polyester, so the precious little pleats are perennial).
I have been reading like a mad woman for the last 7 months preparing our philosophy for education, and assuring myself this is the correct route for our family. Nothing clouds my vision right now of the amazing possibilities this path holds for us.
Last week I met with the wonderful principal of our elementary school. It was bittersweet. I have a great deal of respect for him, and the vision he has for the school. Ellery was assigned to a remarkably excellent teacher this year. But this doesn't sway my feelings. As I shared with him the news that our chosen course would not be including the school this year, he was both sensitive and kind.
My heart will always have a spot for public schools which I both attended and taught at. But I feel I can give my children so much more than what I was offered, or what I offered to my students. Even the most dedicated principals and teachers work within the constraints of the system. They are locked into budget crises, overcrowded classrooms, tenured teachers and mandated curriculum and tests.
We are headed a different direction. I don't see our relationship with the elementary school or public schools slamming shut. It is a neighborhood center for community and with the principals encouragement we will stay connected and involved through choir, family activities, orchestra etc. He also wants to meet periodically and share our experiences. We share a passion for excellence in education and he is intrigued where our studies will take us.
An Additional Offering
I couldn't be more pleased with how things are going in our own little family school. A fantastic addition to our curriculum this year is Larisa. She is our tutor from Russia. She has been with us for the last month. Two days a week Larisa comes to speak Russian with the children, immersing them in the ideas and culture of something completely foreign: the language of Tolstoy and Solzenhitsyn and the music of Tchaikovsky. (Okay they aren't reading War and Peace yet, but like I said, we dream big!) Larisa's time with us also allows me some one on one time with each child, where we focus on intensive phonics instruction.
Next year we may find someone from Latin America to tutor the children and spend time in our home. Or maybe we will fall in love with Russian and just keep learning. The possibilities are endless.
My initial thoughts
Amazing. I love this time with my children. I can't describe it, but our interactions are so different during school than from our day to day life. Different in an enriching and edifying way. I can't think of a better way to spend my time. And believe me, this takes a lot of it.
This week once...
...Callista stared off into space today as I was trying to review phonograms with her and my heart just leapt with excitement. She gets away with that for a few seconds in our school. In a classroom I fear that wouldn't be the case.
...Ellery and I played a game from Family Math, we laughed as I kept beating her, but I exulted inside as she caught on to my strategies and worked the mental math independently to see how I kept it up. (More on my altered math scope and sequence later.)
...we danced a "polka dotted polka and a tangled tango too" giggling and learning about alliteration all the whilst reciting Mrs. Mitchell's Underwear by Dennis Lee.
...Emmett came up to me saying "arbose" over and over again. "Moui arbose." He wanted his watermelon. In Russian. I don't know if he had a clue what he was saying but he was saying it. (My Russian spelling is wretched, completely phonetical, I apologize.)
...the girls screamed in horror as I tried to stop reading The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. (Okay this happened more than once, everyday in fact.) They converge on me every time I sit to nurse the baby, book in hand. He is a masterful author, who has captivated their little minds. We finished the book in 4 days. I have a feeling the Chronicles won't take too long to devour.
I have so much I want to put on record about this adventure. Be prepared.