"In short, something truly amazing is happening. It is happening quietly, usually in small groups in unconnected neighborhoods. It is uncoordinated and mostly unorganized. Yet I believe it will shape the 21st Century. In the year 2100, it may well stand out as one of the most important trends of the century. It is quiet, it is spreading, and it is real: Mothers are seeing a need and filling it—themselves." ~~Rachel DeMille
Every Thursday we host a Mommy School
(home school co-op) in our home.
This blog post was inspired by the joy and fellowship
found inside our weekly gatherings,
and by the following essay, which goes right to the heart of the matter:
What Homeschoolers Want Most: http://www.tjed.org/2010/12/homeschoolers-want/
We have seventeen families participating in our Mommy School, and the children are separated into three groups: Scholar & Transition to Scholar (high-school age) Love of Learners (elementary through middle school ages) and Core (six and under).
The common thread of our SW Florida TJEd inspired Mommy School, is that each family values, on some level, A Classical Liberal Arts Education and that we honor the Phases of Learning as described in the book:
Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning
by, Oliver and Rachel DeMille.
The Phases are:
Core, Love of Learning, Scholar, Depth, Mission, & Impact
for a quick understanding of the Phases: http://www.tjed.org/?s=phases+of+learning
Love this photo... Mommy School in Action! The key to a successful Mommy School is to have mentors that have a passion for what they are inspiring!
"Mom Schools meet according to the needs of the students, and most Mom Schools tend to focus on one or a few areas of expertise. A network of such schools in an area provides a much deeper academic offering than the traditional co-ops. I call them Mom Schools because of the hundred or so I know, only a few are initiated by Dad. But in many of them Dad is partially or very closely involved." ~Rachel DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Home Companion
Our teens are a mixed phase crowd: We have a couple Scholars and the rest are in Transition or Practice Scholar Phase. On this day, they met for their Deeper Thinking Study Group where they rotate through reading Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors and discussing it. They practice and play a Latin game, are discussing the book The One Minute Philosopher and from time to time play Chess. This group is Mentored by one our moms.
Meet Ms. Miranda http://mirandasartofliving.squarespace.com/
She is our Deeper Thinking Study Group Mentor, Art Teacher and our resident Health Coach. She is the mother of three children , all of whom attend on Thursday. Miranda plays a big role in our Mommy School where she alternates from Study Group Mentor to Cooking and Nutrition Class Instructor, I can pretty much throw her into any group and she pops the learning! Today she filled in for our Art Teacher and facilitated the Scholar's Graphic Novel, Art Class.
Ms. Vivian Hadding is a local artist and home school mom, we hired.
Yes, they meet in our bedroom... by the end of a Thursday every room in the house has been used!
Their learning is mostly conversational.
Keeping the learning simple and effective! They read, narrate back, write essay's on the topic, discuss and from time to time present and/or debate in this group.
The Call of Community
"Many home schooling parents intrinsically know that their children need a community of other home schoolers. A community of like-minded people. A community of people who "get" them."
"When we decided to start home schooling we really didn't know that it would make our children different somehow. We wanted something different for our children, but we did not equate that if we offered something different, it would actually make them different."
The New Commonwealth School pg: 16
This is our Love of Learning Science Study Group. It is Mentored by Ms. Michelle one of our moms. She has two children attending on Thursday. You'll see a big age span amongst the participants, as our Core Phase (pre-K ages) usually join in during Science.
Every week, Michelle, along with her passion for learning,
brings science to life with fun experiment demonstrations for our
Love of Learning- Liberty Kids and our Core Phase- Acorn home schooler's.
Some of our kids love to present what they have learned (public speaking and additional learning practice) some don't, they have the choice. This is my grand niece, she is a few weeks shy of turning five and has been coming to my Mommy School since she was in diapers. She LOVES playing at school, and eats up everything we have to offer on Thursday's!
Creating Lap Books (hand made, authored by each student, personalized science text book). Each week after the experiment, we create a page in our books. Then we have the opportunity to read what we have learned. At the end of the semester, we take our books home, to be placed on our shelves, so we can visit with them and continue our learning over and over again.
Our TJEd Mommy School does not replace in home education, but is set up to accentuate what the students are already learning in their home schools. We come together, parents and children, and decide what we want to learn in a group setting, then we look to our families in attendance, or the outside community for a Mentor, someone who would study the subject for fun is best!
The study groups enable us to bring the learning to life in different, and at times, more effective ways. We get inspired by the people who have passions for what they are Mentoring, and the inspiration is contagious! It encourages everyone to help, we are challenged by other points of view, and we (children and adults) get to inspire the others around us.
We base each study group, as much as possible, from a classic book. We keep our lessons simple, mostly conversational, and relevant to the students life, and try to avoid Conveyor Belt educational patterns. We break up the day with movement, the older kids take a walk, the younger ones play outside, as well as inside and, we eat together, each family brings a healthy snack to share.
The Mommy School gives the children practice at growing up in a community with their primary role models or trusted adults close by, who can redirect and inspire good character development as needed.
The parents get much needed support and company in their home schooling endeavors!
This is a Liberty Kids- Classic Book Language Arts- Learning Circle and is Mentored by Ms. Patti (that's been my nickname for twenty years now!) Both pre-K and elementary ages sit through the reading and discuss it with us. I follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy, with a bunch of Waldorf methods sprinkled in, to bring the books to life.
We read a classic book, discuss it, pull vocabulary words from the days reading and use and define them. From time to time, we take the words and create a story using them.
Each week we take an emotional (preferably) passage from the reading and copy it. The older kids (when they are ready), don't copy, instead, they listen and write what they hear. They check their own work for structure and punctuation, and correct any mistakes, conditioning them for Scholar- self directed learning.
We draw a picture about the story in our language arts lap book, on the same page as our copy work. Narration plays a big role in our circle, each week we start our gathering taking turns re-telling the story and insights learned.
We also try and bring some of the books we read to life; we may do handwork, for instance we made log cabins using wood carving tools when we read the Little House series, we cook, reenact and for the current book The Tale of Despereaux we are creating, out of clay, a diorama of the castle and the characters from the story.
When it is dry, it will be available to play with.
When we do the Language Arts exercises, some pre-k'ers stay, some go off and play. For those in the pre- writing stage- they draw a picture based on the story and dictate to a mom what it is, we write it for them while they watch. When they are ready, we take a word or two and have them trace the words, they also practice writing them underneath.
I always have other moms with me to help and to redirect any behavior issues.
They are encourage to share their wisdom with the group too!
A Waldorf Inspired Wood Working Hand-Work Circle, creating logs for log cabins. All ages participate and if a child is not ready to use pocket knives and wood working tools, they let us know, and can watch or practice on soap with a plastic knife.
For our Core Phase group, whom we call Acorns, I run a Waldorf inspired, short and sweet circle time. We read a classic book, do some singing, finger plays, and movement (YOGA). We do a little journaling, where we draw a picture and dictation, based on the story... the older ones practice copying my writing. We may do some handwork or Waldorf type art.
It is important that the learning activity be natural, so we avoid pre-fab, cookie cutter-popular pre-school and elementary school arts and crafts activities.
Instead, we turn to resources like, water color painting, conte, felt, wax, sewing, knitting, and clay.
The idea when working with Core Phase children is to keep the children moving, up and down... Contraction (academics short and sweet) and then expansion (movement & play).
For more information on Waldorf inspired art and crafts: http://www.openwaldorf.com/art.html
Talk about passion! Cooking Class with Mentor and Health Coach Miranda a woman who loves what she does!!! http://mirandasartofliving.squarespace.com/
And, what would a Mommy School be without that -all important-in the background- kind of support? Ms. Christie is that for me. We have been homeschooling together for fourteen year. Her son and my daughter have grown up together. She is my go to person! With help from other moms, she runs the kitchen, sets up the food, does the clean up, helps with the children, and fills in wherever we need her.
She keeps the space running and knows where everything is so she can acclimate a new family if I am busy and makes sure the kids put everything away in the right place.
We try and host a Mentor Lecture for our Mommy School participants a few times a year. We invite leaders, and inspiring members of our community to come and speak.
This is a photo of Lawrence Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education with the children. Larry has come two years in a row to speak to our families. http://fee.org/people/lawrence-w-reed/
The first year, he gave a talk entitled: My Favorite President, Grover Cleveland. The second year, he spoke about Adam Smith,Philosopher and the man considered the, "father of economics". The talk was based on Smith's classic book: The Wealth of Nations.
We are always asking, "who in our group is connected to whom in our community?" One of our daddies is connected to the fire department. One day they showed up right outside our front door for a "come to us", kind of field trip!
"The most exciting thing about Mom Schools may be that they promise not only a better education for the rising generation, but they are also educating the parent’s generation in neighborhood after neighborhood across the globe. It is inevitable that this will impact our freedoms, our prosperity, and our future." ~~Rachel DeMille www.TJEd.org
The beauty of multiple age learning is how the older students model for the younger ones!
Personally, I find that one of the added joys of creating a Mommy School in our home, is that my entire family has attended.
In this photo, my grand niece, my two nephews and the little guy is my grandson ♥♥♥♥
Our Mommy School on Thursday exhausts me, and some weeks I dread it... but always, I mean always, when it is over, and the last family leaves at 6pm, I realize I am exhausted in a most soulful and very good way!
I am blessed to be a part of each one of these families lives!
Every one of them, adults and children, are here because they want to be, and they each bring their positive energy, so full of inspiration for all of us!!!
My daughter, niece, nephews and grandsons are equally blessed to have this wonderful community to grow up in!!! ♥
This Friday morning I woke to find this on my chalk board...
Warming my heart and creating :-) BIG SMILES :-)
((HUGS)) to whomever wrote it yesterday!