Monday, August 11, 2014

Homeschool Chronicles {Teamwork}

Homeschool  ChroniclesToday marks the beginning of our second week in a new homeschool year.  We like to start at the beginning of August, when the muggy southern summer has lost its appeal, and the kids are already raring to go.

This mama hasn't been so raring.  I guess between prepping for Angled and early pregnancy challenges, I'm a little (lot) nervous about fitting school back into our days.  Oh, well.. I always say you have to make time.  It's never just lying about.

This year we're trying something totally different.  As I type, my friend Laura is gathered at the table with six kiddos, ranging from 2nd to 4th grade.  Miss Laura is the history teacher in our freshly minted co-op.  She loves history, and you can tell.  So much so that I can't help but eavesdrop a bit!  They're studying Vikings, jumping between several engaging books, interspersed with discussion and hands-on activities.  I happened to have the perfect dowels for the Viking longboats squirreled away in my laundry room!  Everything just seems to be falling together so well.

Homeschool co-op
history class

Viking Boats
Viking longboats

Honestly, I never really liked teamwork in school.  I'd much rather do my own work, at my own speed, to my own standards, than navigate the interpersonal challenges of working as a team.  You might say I have a fiercely independent spirit.  I work for myself.  I homeschool my kids mainly because I have my own beliefs about what makes a meaningful education.  I'm all for alone time.

And yet, teamwork has its advantages.  Our co-op is just three families, already close friends, who happen to homeschool with a similar style.  Each mom brings something different to the table, a passion and an interest as a teacher that the other moms don't share.  We agreed on three subjects to teach on our co-op day and selected curriculum as a team.  Because each mom is teaching from an area of strength, we're collectively bringing a better experience to the children.  And, there's also the accountability of being ready on a particular day to serve particular (other) students.  It does help one stick to a schedule.

I'm teaching writing, with an emphases on work that is honest-from-the-heart.  I'm hoping to create space for these students to write about things they care about, even at this young age.  Today I got to engage with my 3rd and 4th graders one-on-one to improve their in-progress writing assignment.  Such a privilege!  These children already know me and trust me, and I'm already familiar with their ability as writers.  It's a great situation for us all.

Homeschool co-op
science scavenger hunt

Homeschool co-op
findings

The third mom is teaching science, in a 2 hour block that includes time for a weekly experiment.  Aria's in heaven!  She's my little scientist.  So our co-op is science, history and writing, mostly completed for the week in one full day.  Yes, we do have some homework each week to meet our goals, but really we get a ton done in this focused time with a passionate, prepared teacher and such a small group of students. 

The kids' favorite part?  Recess together.

Homeschool co-op
at the pear tree

Homeschool co-op
shaking down the pears

Homeschool co-op
sweet friends

I'll have to let you know how our co-op fairs this year.  I'm sure they'll be challenges and tweaks and brand new ideas, but I'm very optimistic and very thankful to have these friends, this time and this space to learn together.

Another year, began.  How quickly each one tumbles along.

12 comments:

  1. It sounds like an ideal arrangement.

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  2. Sounds like a perfect arrangement and what an amazing surrounding to grow and learn in!

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  3. This is so interesting to me. I am looking forward to seeing how it goes.

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  4. We had our 1st day of school today. Our schedule is completely different from what we've done before. I'm hoping it will help bring the chaos down a few notches! We have 3 new curriculum this year that we are all very excited about: Exploring Creation through Human Anatomy and Physiology, Sequential Spelling (levels 1 & 3), and "Middleville Times" from Homeschool in the Woods. Today went well. Here's for a good tomorrow!

    BTW, I, too, am feeling the "early yuckies". I'm due late March/early April. And I'm potty training the 3 yr old. Good times.

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  5. This arrangement looks absolutely wonderful... for the kids and the parents. I really wish we could do something like this over here in India... but our system(s) of education, though rigorous are rather limiting... and a structured home-school curriculum is virtually absent in the scheme of things...

    How are you feeling? When are you due?

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    1. It is good to be reminded in this worldwide community that we are lucky to even have the opportunity to do this. Thanks for asking about me. I've left fatigue behind (thank goodness!!) and am starting to come out of nausea. Due early March!

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  6. This arrangement looks wonderfully enriching for the students and their teachers! I love homeschooling and the variety of forms it takes!

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  7. Thank you for the peek into what has to be the neatest school I've ever seen. Kudos to you for teaching them to write from the heart.

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    1. Thanks for that encouragement, Linda. Turns out writing is something I have an abundance of feelings and opinions about. Ha! Never would have expected that when I was in school!

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  8. They seem to be having a great time and I find that if they are enjoying it they are more likely to learn from it.
    I'm a little curious, what schedule are you using for the co-op...6 weeks, fall/spring semester?

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    1. We are running the co-op for 33 weeks total, starting in August, taking December off and ending at the end of April. So far it's really been wonderful!

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  9. Rachel, I was so encouraged to read this! I've been pressuring myself to go out and make new homeschooling friends even though it's been challenging with a baby, and we might be moving at the end of the year. This gave me hope that there's still plenty of time. I'm a go it alone girl too, and at the moment, it's working well for us. The trick is to see that as a blessing rather than think there must be something wrong with me. :)

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