Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Monday morning learning sessions

Monday co-op learning

Those of you who are familiar with our family’s journey into the world of home education, and perhaps have been associated with us in the past within a support group, can attest that I have always given my everything, pouring my heart and soul along with any of my talents or offerings to organize an event or activity, and/or become teacher of a subject topic requested. I have no problem getting into the “thick” of such a requirement, happily rolling up my sleeves for the benefit of our children and/or the group as a whole.

When moving eastward, I found a homeschooling support group, and knew before moving here about the group’s morning learning sessions each week. The temptation to plunge in an entire morning of support group’s co-op teaching has always been an impossible thought due to piano lessons falling on the exact day; therefore we have not been able to participate in these morning sessions over here...until this fall.

The church location where the group rents a gym and many assorted classrooms was notified of a change, offering Monday mornings instead of the ten year scheduled Friday mornings the group had been used to. In return for the ease provided for cleaning to the janitors before the weekend's church services and meetings, they were willing to cancel all rental fees for the exchange to accommodate the church’s staff. The unexpected and wonderful offering was huge for the group, no longer having to split the combined rental costs to use the facilities, lowering the expenses by a long shot for all involved.

When I was first approached last June with the changes and possible attendance for the fall session, I took a step back to think about how the commitment would affect our family, either blessings us, or hindering a great school week with a natural rhythm at home. Perhaps it was my great luck, as it was a bonus to find all the classes for fall already had teachers for the classes being offered, and this was the thing I loved to do the most, teach that is, but it seemed too overwhelming to commit and possibly encounter a situation where I could no longer participate and leave all in a lurch. I continued to sit on the fence for another month, and then, guess what I chose to do. Yes, I took the plunge and committed only for the first session.

Without further ado then, yes, three of our children are in the middle of an eight-week homeschool co-operative schooling program. The parents offer active participation by volunteering to be a teacher, teaching something they excel in, become an assistant to a teacher (and take over the class in the teacher's absence from illness), or offer assistance in other ways such as in the nursery of young babies. There are also others within the community who are actively sharing their talents to teach our children, and a few grandparents are committed to the parent's lounge to ensure hot coffee and tea are ready for those who require a cup of the hot brew all morning long.

The courses our children are participating in have given them opportunity to gather with many other children in the selection of three classes each week. It is a privilege to attend these days, many rules are attached to make the morning flow smoothly and I know how much energy it takes to arrive at such a great task of being the organizer, having done these types of mornings in the past myself before. Certainly I have a whole slew of fond memories with all the past classes I have taught many young students over the years. I feel events such as this are a definite asset to families, but only if it enhances or blesses them, instead of offering a load of stress to the family unit, and only too, if their children are also dedicated to making it successful with their attention to possible poor attitudes, the omission of bad behavior, offering only good things and full participation during classes, dedicating themselves to their homework to acquire commitment levels necessary to the learning aspect.

I have been assigned to nursery duty first thing in the morning, greeting up to ten little ones, a set of five-month-old twins on top of them. There are five two year olds, the rest are babies. I have come to the conclusions that this is a great spot for me, offering much younger mothers piece of mind with “seasoned” older women to mind their babes. All of us serving as helpers have seven or more children; so trust is high towards our duties there.

One of my little buddies

I’ve become fairly attached to a couple of the children, mostly as they hover very closely to me and are so sweet! This is a morning highlight for me for sure, and I have not been situated in a nursery ever before, so something new to me to connect with little people in such a way as to provide them with some sense of security while their mothers are helping elsewhere.

The hat is the hot new thing here,
for all the girls at these sessions.

Our older daughter is the one I've had difficulty in getting photos of more than the other two, so I'll share briefly what she has chosen for her three classes. Her morning begins with my (dinosaur but beloved) Pfaff sewing machine each week, taking sewing lessons this session and learning much. It's been impossible to cover this course at home like her older siblings participated in, so she's been enjoying the class and making items she likes.

Chemistry is the next class for her, learning about atoms, molecules, the periodic time table, growing crystals and other experiments performed at home as assigned. The final class will be interesting, a biology session change for the class to dissect a fetal pig, an important aspect in scientific learning.

Finally to ease her brain, she attends her last class in the gym where I get to assist the teacher in teaching tactile, hand/eye coordination games. All of the games so far look easy, but they are NOT. I've tried them, and it's quite humbling even for upper aged teens to struggle and try, try again. The other two also participate in a class in the gym, dealing with the same situations within their age group like the teens have to do. They are all enjoying the logic filled, and sometimes tough sessions, offering them a workout to be sure.

I’ll post a few of the other children’s thoughts and work thus far in another post to come immediately following this one. They are all loving it, leading me to believe this was a great decision to plunge on in…. And the question has arose about attending the winter session, one where the older daughter was begging to volunteer one session in the nursery with me. She would get her volunteer credits for high school this way, but she has become attached to some of the youngsters while assisting me in setting up the room the past few weeks early in the morning. Will we attend the winter session or not? I'll let you know...