The best-laid schemes o' mice an' menI hadn't written up our homeschooling plans for the fall on this blog quite yet, though we did start back on Tuesday with a few subjects after an August hiatus for camp and vacation. We generally ease back into things oh-so-gradually, and were following that pattern, when a call from a local charter school came the day after we'd begun. Jazz's number was up.
Gang aft agley.
We'd originally applied to this school, which is part of the Coalition of Essential Schools, when Jazz was halfway through his sixth grade year of homeschooling. He was waitlisted. The school has three or more applicants for every space available, so we weren't too surprised, and we were grateful that his number wasn't in the triple digits like it was for a couple of our homeschooling friends.
This past spring we learned that he'd moved up to #14 for 8th grade, which was a vast improvement on his initial number but, since the school generally sees a turnover of 0-3 students between 7th and 8th grade, we didn't expect him to get in for this year. But we were hopeful for 9th grade, so this year (2011-2012) was supposed to be our Big Push, the Last Chance to Get Everything Done. We were planning to do a lightning round of Joy Hakim's A History of US (three weeks per book), get two years of math done in a matter of months (via Teaching Textbooks), dissect frogs & other slimy creatures plus view onions and a whole host of living and formerly living things under the microscope while noting it all down like good classical homeschoolers via Classiquest Biology, and forge ahead with Michael Clay Thompson's language arts programs, as well as read literature on a regular basis, including several Great Books. Oh, and we were also to begin our study of R.E.A.L. Homeschool Spanish, since that is the foreign language option at the charter school.
With the exception of MCT's Caesar's English, which Jazz wants to keep going with on his own, none of what we planned will be part of Jazz's education this year. I'm mourning the loss, even while realizing that accomplishing the list above was probably somewhat idealistic, especially with a 5th grader and a 1st grader tagging along. At the same time, I know he will be energized by his exposure to new teachers and peers and ideas, and will be motivated by someone other than Mom, which is a great thing for this kid at this age.
Essential Schools follow ten Common Principles, which list is one of the things that drew us to this charter school in the first place. They are definitely ideals that apply to our homeschooling philosophy, as well. My favorites are the following:
- learning to use one's mind well
- less is more: depth over breadth
- student-as-worker, teacher-as-coach
- a tone of decency and trust
The following few weeks will bring many adjustments for Jazz and for the rest of us, who are trying to figure out what shape our home education will take now that the driving force of the year is no longer present. Wish us luck!