Combination Education

This past week I was chatting with an educator in Australia about many things, including the unique school program I’ve been a part of for several years.  When she asked me if I blog about it (as she was interested in learning more about the program) I had to say no.

It got me thinking that maybe it was about time I at least wrote a post.  I’ve had many people ask me about the logistics of our school program and how it looks for the kids, parents and teachers.   So it’s about time I put pen to paper…or rather fingers to the keyboard, about this fantastic school program.

In the Classroom with the Grade Two's

Stony Creek is a Program of choice within the Parkland School Division.  The structure of the program involves 2 days of classroom instruction where students are in the classroom learning Social Studies, Science, Art and Gym.  The other three days a week students learn at home, in essence home school, in the subjects of Math, Language Arts and Health.

But this doesn’t explain what the program really is.  Part of the beauty of the program structure is that once a month every parent involved in the program is in the classroom with the kids for the day (about 40 families presently).  And on the other end, also once a month, the teacher comes to each student’s home so the student can share his home school work with the teacher.  In practice, this lends itself to the formation of a community where I, as a parent, know each of the kids in the classroom quite well.  I also know the teachers on a level that normally I wouldn’t by having them in my home every month.

Typically the same two teachers are teaching the kids from grades 1 to 6 so they get to know each child’s learning style, strengths and areas for growth quite well over the years, as well as getting a picture of their family life.  And it’s even better for the kids who are beyond excited every month to show their teacher not only their school work, but their pets, their hobbies and anything else they can drag out.  My kids always make tea for their teacher and love sharing a cup while they show off their projects.  And they equally love the days I am in the classroom with them.

Home School day for Ben

One of the best features of the program, for me, is the extra time it gives me with my kids.  Not to say that homeschooling is not a pile of work……it is.  The prep alone is time consuming, but the rewards make it so worth it.  My oldest son Ben just entered “regular” school for the first time this year and is now realizing how lucky he was to have 6 years at home and in the Stony Creek Program.

The youngest always learns with his brothers

My son Noah, in Grade Three, continues to enjoy the program.  He can explore topics he enjoys like History and Mythology, while covering core learning objectives.  I can tailor Math to his learning style and work one on one with him until he really understands concepts.  I have a choice as to what type of resources best fit my child for these subjects as long as Alberta Learning Objectives are met.  It really is personalized, child centered learning, at it’s best.  And the mix of one on one learning at home and group learning at school is phenomenal.

In the years I have been involved in Stony Creek I have come to have a deep appreciation for the teaching profession.  Many of my friends and family are teachers and many teachers I have worked with have become friends. I have spent amazing days in the classroom with kids I have come to love over the years, and have equally amazing days at home seeing my kids delve into areas of interest that we would not have had time to explore if they were in a classroom full time.

Living the Space

I learned a valuable life lesson this summer.

The past four months have looked like this: Trying to sell a house, rent a house, find a house, then not moving.  Giving up my job, then working.  Kids homeschooling, then going to school, then a mix of both.  Packing up the house, then unpacking into the same house. Saying goodbye, then reconnecting.

With life turning upside down so much I have definitely not been myself.  I have been more emotional, more prone to moodiness and less steady than I normally am.  In circumstances where I usually have a well of patience, I have found myself running dry.  In moments where I should be thankful and experiencing joy, I have found myself less touched.  And while I am coming out of the fog as life is settling down I am realizing that the experience of upheaval has taught me a few things about myself.

There have been many causes or stimulus prodding my feelings.  And they have at times taken me over.  I have felt surrounded and covered over at those times, unable to crawl out from the feelings that have been created by circumstance.  Or at least it felt that way.

What I have learned though, is that I have a choice.  While it is important not to deny feelings or bury them in an unhealthy way, I also have the choice on how I respond to them.  I can choose to let them sweep me away or I can choose to acknowledge them and be proactive in how I deal with them.  For feelings almost always lead to action.  And action affects other people in my life.  

So, between the stimulus, which spurns my feelings, and the action I take, there is a space. The space where I need to stop. To remind myself that it is just a feeling and feelings pass.  That if I wait an hour, or even a day, I may feel differently.

I have been working on living in the space.  Not staying stuck in the feeling nor jumping into action.  Just staying in the space in between for awhile.

And I will admit that there are times where living in the space is not enough and I need to be deliberate about pulling myself out.  This is where I will use something concrete like music.  Here is the music I have gone to lately when I’ve needed a boost out of the darkness, and a reminder that I really do have a good, good life.