Fall of 2014 I teamed up with two mom-friends to form a small co-op, an idea I introduced in my last chronicle. We met one day per week, each mom teaching from an area of passion to cover history, science and writing, plus a bit of follow up homework the rest of the week. That year was our best homeschooling year yet. Our children benefited from a richer educational experience, and we all loved the extra time with friends.
Eleni came home from NICU at the tale end of that co-op school year. Over the summer of 2015, it was heartbreaking to realize we'd have to give up co-op because of my frequent travels for Eleni's therapies. Seeing less of friends and less of each other was hard on our family, but for me it was nothing compared to the burden of grief for her suffering. Then, a few months into the school year it became clear that caring for Eleni and teaching Liam left me no time to properly challenge Aria academically. We considered all our options, including public and charter schools. But it was tricky to find anything that would require less of me, while truly giving her more.
In October, with Aria's enthusiastic support, I enrolled her in Oak Meadow's long distance learning program, through which she'd receive assignments and traditional grading/feedback from an Oak Meadow teacher. The program was a lifesaver for us. Aria could work from home without my input, choose grade levels that matched her abilities and receive the attention she deserved. It still wasn't ideal for me to "check out" so to speak of her education, so the first thing that changed after Eleni passed away was my involvement in her Oak Meadow program. Still, I would recommend a program like this to anyone who needs a temporary fix in an emergency, whether pulling a child out of a traditional school or suddenly facing a life change that prevents regular homeschooling.
So, here we are now preparing for fall of 2016! I am so, so grateful that we are reviving co-op. And my kids are too! I am also excited to be able to go "all in" so to speak with designing learning programs that best serve both of my children. That's one thing I love about homeschool - being able to really meet your kids where they are academically. Aria is entering 6th grade and Liam 4th. For those of you who homeschool, here are some of the resources they will be using:
Aria - 6th Grade
Art of Problem Solving PreAlgebra; Sequential Spelling 2; Michael Clay Thompon's Caesar's Language 2, Essay Voyage and Search literature trilogy; Aristotle Leads the Way; Shepherd Life Science; aBeka Grammar + Composition II and various Sonlight history books.
Liam - 4th Grade
Singapore 4A + 4B with Intensive Practice; aBeka Language A; Spelling Power; Michael Clay Thompon's Sentence Island, Building Language, Mud Trilogy and Music of the Hemispheres; Apologia Astronomy, Apologia Botany and various Sonlight history books.
In the co-op I am excited to be teaching my older students the finer points of writing quality essays. They are growing up so fast! In choosing curriculum for Aria I am already thinking about how it all connects to high school and to college, so we'll be ready when we get there. You might have noticed that Aria is consuming two science curricula. One is for the Potter's School Life Science Honors class, a live online class. Science is her passion, and we have reached that point when it's time for me to rely on professionals to give her the best experiences.
I'll also be teaching a basic writing class for my younger co-op students that introduces all kinds of writing, kind of warming them up to academic writing. There are certain benefits to being second-born, including that mom has already taught that class! This year Liam has become a voracious reader, even a self-proclaimed "book worm," taking home huge stacks of thick books from the library. This from the boy who kept telling me just a year ago that he "hated" reading. And that's the true victory here - not to teach my child how to read, but to see him develop a love for it. It's like witnessing those first steps, those first smiles. It's magic.
So, this week my kids are away at camp, and I am at home typing up plans for our next school year with excitement. I'm amazed time and again to be here, in this place, getting to do this, getting to have time to be my version of a good mom to Aria and Liam again. Oh how life can change, does change, will always change in ways that surprise us. When our new baby comes, at mid school year, I hope with all my heart that the adjustment is sweet, if not simple. Joyful if not easy.
If you have any questions about our homeschool, I am happy to share!