• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

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Travelling light

Slow and steady seems the way to start our travels once again this year.

In the past week or so, I’ve seen a few emails go by at online home schooling groups about parents in a tizzy about their families’ first day back to “school”, and some of them are experienced home educators. Once again, I think I’m missing some of the important home school genes — I lost the I-have-to-go-to-the-HS-conference gene a few years ago, and I am definitely missing the planning/scheduling one; of course, I’ve learned from our experiences that my best laid plans get shoved aside by last minute adventures, and that we do tend to work best just by doing the next thing. Prompted by phone calls from guitar and voice teachers, I had thought we’d start up our formal studies, as usual, right after Labor Day — though it seems to be arriving awfully early this year — but beyond that hadn’t given much thought to just what we’d do that first week.

As I’ve written before, the first day the kids get to start the morning by exploring their goodie bags, with fun school supplies, some new books and audiobooks, and such. And then…

Well, I could have planned a full day for everyone, starting with seatwork around the kitchen table — math, spelling, grammar, and such — followed by readalouds in the afternoon. Then I realized, while sitting in the middle of the garden yanking out carrots, that for me planning is much like packing for a trip, or the way I’m supposed to pack for a trip, and this is most certainly a voyage of learning. Rather than trying to pack every last thing in that suitcase — I have a tendency to pack for every last eventuality, and I suppose to carry on the metaphor that would mean scheduling to avoid educational gaps — I have to remember what the experts say: pack your bag, then remove half.

So I’ve decided that we’ll start as we have for the past few years, removing the first half of the day, the seatwork, and once the kids are done admiring their new things, we’ll start off with readalouds. In fact, I think we’ll spend our entire first week reading aloud — history, literature, science, and probably even some math. I’ll add math in the next week, and English the week after. That gives everyone including me a chance to get used to the new schedules; it doesn’t help that next week brings the first music lessons since May, and my first library board meeting since June.

Now if only I can follow my own advice the next time I’m faced with a suitcase.

(PS For others who like to Travel Light — highly recommended.)

4 Responses

  1. We tend to slowly get into things too. I love your idea of spending the first week doing read alouds.

  2. Sounds pretty good to me. I got all that planning thing in the middle of the summer and diverted it into learning more for me. I remember how I “planned” for the birth of Tigger — I figured if I had a good sense of the range of possibilities and could respond appropriately, I was okay. It is harder to do with this but I’m getting there.

    And it is really the outside things that push us to think this way. Things seem to be starting slowly but the week of Sept 22 really is full tilt. A lot of the city rec programs don’t start until a few weeks after school starts.

    I might borrow your read aloud schedule though….

  3. So true. My eldest has already said that it will be good to get back to “school”, though I’m not exactly sure what he’s expecting. Over the course of today he’s mentioned three different areas of interest that he’d like to know more about, but it’s completely NOT within the context of “school”: video game cartography, international folk music (which he’s already explored some today), and the history of the CA railroads. It seems like *he’s* got the next little while planned out!

  4. Jacqueline, for us it’s the easiest and most enjoyable way of getting back to our studies after an entire summer off.

    JoVE, I do seem to find it more helpful to do extra reading for myself than to surround myself with schedules and charts! The one thing I have to do though, is make sure the calendar on the kitchen wall and the one in my bag are both up to date and reconciled, on account of those pesky “outside things”.

    Kris, it sounds as though he has a very interesting year planned out. And how wonderful that he’s figured out his own context of “school”!

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