Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Monday Learning Sessions are back!

Monday co-op learning

Our second “Monday morning learning session's 8 week period", with our local homeschooling support group is currently back in full swing. If you missed the autumn session writings , you can find them HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE

I have a confession to make; it’s a lovely reprieve from our usual busy routines to have a morning each week with the children learning new fun and educational topics I don’t have to research and prepare for, especially when it revolves well around our current educational syllabus already in place.

Particularly this time of year, exams for the older ones seem to take precedence, so having something to cut the intensity of the scheduling crunch is more than welcomed, and something to yearn for by striving for a bit more flexible, especially in the dead of winter when we are more homebound and desiring time to refresh our souls.

Aside from these thoughts, it has been a new experience for us to be involved in this type of schooling co-operative learning experience, eventful active mornings which seem to be working well for us to date, with the learning extensions actually adding to our programming at home. Even this mother is enjoying the little break.

Usually I am known to be first in line for volunteer teaching duties, swiftly assigned a topic for preparing, organizing, and then finely tuning a well researched amount divided over a certain time period. I’ve always been ready to roll up my sleeves in times passed, but over recent months, it’s become more imperative I remain less committed due to possible and serious health issue at home with a loved one. I need to be available at a moment’s notice, anytime, anyhow, and by choosing fewer commitments I am solely responsible for, I can handle anything creeping up, possibly requiring instant tweaking in my schedule.

We are in the thrust of great educational extensions in this learning session as in the last one. This weekly session’s morning attendance has been lengthened by an extra thirty minutes, and since we volunteer to set up the nursery beforehand, it’s actually a long morning overall. We leave the house before 8:30am and return close to 1:00pm. It’s long, but so worth it thus far. Once arriving home again afterwards, we eat our lunch, and focus on the rest of the day ahead.

We are already on week five this term. Topics vary, and the children are thoroughly enjoying everything surrounding the new class selections, even though at times they are finding it often incredibly challenging to get their assigned “homework” completed on time each week before the next class creeps forward. Their creativity has definitely been expanded, and comfort zones have been reset, which to me is a very good thing.

Our youngest daughter is registered in a “Creative Writing” class, currently going through the stages of writing encompassed in producing her own original story.

Always protect your book in progress
by placing it inside your huge portfolio pouch.

A few of the children registered in this
class working hard on their illustrations
for their own individual books.

Her second class of the morning is a “Making Books” class where she has progressed from her original “mock-up” stage and is currently publishing her first book all about horses. Stories were assigned over the Christmas season and were due for presentation at the first class session.

Her mock-up on the left side,
and her progress already ready for
sewing the binding together.

During the third class period, her brother joins her for the last class, a type of Scientific class called “Junk Wars”, a hilarious name for an exciting class where a volunteer dad predetermines what the science topic will be, and then gives groups a box of “junk” with an assignment attached.

This class can be compared to any current reality TV show in that, they are given a project to tackle using ONLY the objects in the box. When the initial assigned project becomes complete, the group then has to complete the challenge part of the lesson, detail it precisely, so most often physics topics are also included. For instance, one week they were given a large piece of Styrofoam, balsa wood, a propeller and various other objects when the topic of aviation was introduced...but for the conclusion, the project had to fly and serve a suitable purpose. Ah, to carve and size it down!

Okay, a few children are missing at
this table for the photo, but this was
the aviation contest at work.

Another session the box of “junk” was filled with items to build a specific type of bridge, which also had to pass the “extreme” test by day’s end. The test? The instructor placed both of his feet on the bridge testing for engineering strength, and the last group’s bridge standing won the challenge.

Our youngest son is registered in an older group class called “Making Books”, also completing his original “mock-up” for his original story, and is now in the binding stages of the book assembly. The older class will produce a variation of size compared to the younger class participants as they have all managed to write longer stories for starters.

The book is progressing quite well, glued
and ready for the sewing on the binding.

The type of book assembly they are making for this particular class is new to me, and we’ve made many books through the years before. They will be wonderful once the task is finished. Next week they will use quilting thread to sew and create a strong book binding before the actual hardcovers are gathered and secured for the final assembly. Both he and his sister are very eager to complete their first hardcover books as keepsakes for the future. I can see more bookmaking happening around here after this class is over.

His second class is “Wood Carving". The minimum age for the participants in this class was supposed to be thirteen years old; however our son being the eager and enthusiastic hands-on learner we all know him to be, was invited to partake. A wonderful senior gentleman volunteered to teach the older children how to carve the old fashioned way with the kit he supplied all the students with for use in the class. He has a real way with the children, and feels hobbies are priceless these days, rather than witnessing children sitting in front of video games or time wasting other choices available to them.

Their project for this session is a wooden loon, and it is so much harder than it looks to carve and whittle down the larger piece of wood into the shape of the project itself. The knives are so sharp, band aids have been necessary for a few with their knives, though our son has only nicked himself once. Others haven’t been so lucky, but they persevere because they have already seen the final results from the last session’s group from the fall who completed the very same project. The teacher volunteer only takes a maximum of ten children for his classes, so we had to wait until this session on the waiting list.

Finally, as mentioned this son takes his “Junk Wars” science class along with his sister, a rather large group of children loving every opportunity to work in groups as teams with friendly competition skills in outwitting others with their scientific conclusions.

Our older daughter loves her Monday sessions! She chose to do something this time which was a first for the committee organizers. She opted to sit in the nursery during her last period and hang out with the young babes rather than take a learning class. I too am assigned in there in the first session, so we both have become quite attached to a few of the sweeties in that group.

One of the nursery buddies
she has become attached to.

When we arrive in the morning however, her first class is a part-two of the sewing session from the fall classes. She is currently progressing well in her skills, making a pair of pajamas for herself.

Her second class is actually a gym session, a badminton class where is learning the rules of the game, playing well and she runs and hard to keep up with the “birdie”. By the time this class is complete, she finds respite in the nursery afterwards. Later on after lunch at home, the academics await her arrival. There are moments when it seems to take her the rest of the week to make up for the morning sessions away from her books, but she usually performs well and keeps up with her assigned weekly scheduled schooling.

Registrations for the third and final learning session set this year took place this week, those classes once again offering a myriad of selections to choose from, for direct supplementation into the yearly homeschooling syllabus schedules of the families involved.

I look forward to the children partaking in their future classes of;

  • Body Systems (making a lap book upon completion as a keepsake of their learning),
  • Solar system and Planets
  • Magnets and Magnetic Fields
  • Fetal pig dissection (taught by a biology teacher whiz from the local high school, a homeschooling mother).
  • An encore second class of wood carving, creating a second project.
  • A challenging and intense survival course taught outdoors. Our son and older daughter are both registered in this session together. Topics will include, shelters, making a fire, cooking over a fire, compass work, and so many more survival skills useful in life.
Another of our little nursery buddies.
So cute!

And lastly, our older daughter would love to be a part of the nursery staff again. I too will happily roll up my sleeves and allow the younger mothers time out to attend other classes with their older children, offering them a bit of security for the morning and giving love to their younguns just like the grandmother that I am should. wink