Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Plans for next year

I love having 7 year old children. They are old enough to have fairly deep, reasonable discussions with me, and at the same time, still think I am akin to a god. To them, my opinions still matter but they have matured enough to know that their opinions matter as well and they are not shy of making their feelings known.

I've been experiencing a lot of angst about the co-op we joined last year. I've been very disappointed with the level of academics offered to the 6-9 year old age group but consoled myself that the kids were enjoying a rich social life. I ended each Tuesday exhausted from being around people for all those hours, but at the same time, I really enjoyed visiting with a bunch of bright and interesting people.

I have been trying to decide what to do about the co-op this coming academic year. After I had a long conversation with two friends, I decided to ask Ben and Shira what they wanted to do.

Talked about impressive, the kids condensed the entire issue down to its essence. They told me that they want learning to be learning and their social activities to be social activities with no other agendas attached to them. They don't want to do co-op again because they say it's a waste of time for them in terms of learning and the classes get in the way of socializing. They want me to teach them because I know what they like and need, and then they want me to set up play dates so that they can just play. They want a fish to be a fish and a fowl to be a fowl. They don't want something that is neither fish, nor fowl.

Bright children. That's exactly what was bothering me about the co-op. It was costing us well over a $100 a month and I couldn't find any tangible rewards for either the time or the monetary outlay. We're better off just visiting with those great folks in a social setting and doing our academics and enrichment on our own.

Furthermore, they told me that they don't want to do as many outside activities as we did last year. They disliked how tight our schedule was.

We've spent a great many hours brainstorming how we are going to work this next academic year and have come up with a plan that I think is going to work well for us all.

They've decided they want to do one class at co-op. Lydia is teaching the Odyssey during the fall semester. I was planning on teaching the Odyssey to Ben and Shira and Lydia is a much more exciting teacher than I could ever be, so Ben and Shira will attend her class. I'll add to it during the week to make it more relevant to Ben and Shira.

The kids' piano teacher is leaving the area which means we need to find a new teacher. As luck would have it, we have found one a 2 minute walk from home. This is yet another time saver. No more drive time and no more wasted time while I wait for the kids at piano lessons. Also, the kids will no longer suffer from boredom while they wait for their sibling to be done.

Shira will continue with Nature Girls on Saturdays.

Shira, with Suzanne Moss and fellow Nature Girls standing next to their vegetables.

Ben plans on starting boy scouts but I am not convinced he'll stick with it. I think that too much nature is involved. He has this romantic view of nature but I suspect he is his father's son and the reality will quickly sink in.

Other than choir, that's all that we have planned for activities outside the house.

Those of you who know Ben and Shira will be astounded that you have seen no art classes in that mix. That's because
they also decided they want to stop all the art classes they've been attending and only want to see one teacher, Lee Gerry Wertheimer, a local artist. She taught them a watercolor class at the Hermitage Foundation where they learned an enormous amount.

We discovered that Lee gives private lessons in her students' homes.

I love the idea of having art classes at our home. This means that I get to do things while my kids have class and we don't have time waste that is travel. Also, the ratio of 2 kids to one teacher means that the children will learn real art techniques and the teacher won't be wasting time on crowd control. Lee will come to our home for 2 hours every second week. As strange as this sounds, this means a monetary saving to us for art classes.

We have only one other planned activity. We're going let Scott Powell do the history teaching. We tested his service in January. His is a superb teacher and is passionate about his subject I love how well he integrates all the information and teaches hierarchically. It's good to know that they will be taught by an Objectivist who knows his subject. The downside is that we have to be home Monday to Thursday from 1-1:30pm so that we can dial into his lectures. But, they are so good, that it's worth our while to have this schedule. We'll be getting really good learning for around half of what co-op was costing us. That to me is a much better use of our money, and time.

They also told me that they do not want to do jump rope classes at the Y anymore. They want us to do an exercise program at home each day, together. I rather like this idea. We can do T-Tapp videos together and perhaps I can find a Pilates instructor to come to the house once or twice a week. This will keep me on the straight and narrow.

I can't believe how excited I am about our plans. We'll spend a lot more time at home and will have a lot more free time. I think we're going to thoroughly enjoy next year. Last year we often only had one afternoon a week free for playdates. Now the kids will have time every afternoon to have a friend over, if they so wish, and we'll have time every morning for school.

I am so proud of my kids. They put a lot of thought into what they wanted for next year. They also demonstrated a high level of self awareness when they told me what they wanted and what they disliked. They understand that they have high personal space needs and they embrace those needs. These kids don't know how lucky they are to be homeschooled where they can get all the personal space they need.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

That sounds like a great set up for next year. I've been thinking about what we will do next year as well. I've tried cutting back driving to just one day a week. I'd rather spend more on educational activities we can do at home than on gasoline to get back and forth to and from them.