Wednesday, January 25, 2017

week-ing, a school report

With meet season in full swing and BC back at home things around the farm have been a bit hectic.

First, there are the meet weeks. They tend to shorten the school week (for either travel or competition) and increase the amount of farm & house work needed to be done in a shorter amount of time.

Second, Utah is finally having a good winter. Or we all moved to Alaska... either way there is a ton of snow removal work to be done.  Driving errands are plotted out with military exactness. The skiing is amazingly distracting! The mood rests somewhere between snowed in at the Overlook Hotel and Christmas at Hogwarts.

For BC's part he always adds an exciting twist to life.  This time he has brought home boxes (and boxes) of treasure.  Old coins, strange rings, glasses, crystal laden chandeliers, metal work, lamps, door knockers, whatever he found worth saving from the old mansion in DC he was remodeling.

It's kind of like being in a never ending episode of Antiques Road Show without the grand cash values and the guest don't take their shit home...

If you remember I have spent months, literally months clearing clutter from our house. You might see how perplexing the dusty boxes stacked in all the corners are to me.

Then there was the death of my computer and the period of social-media-rest that followed. Amen. And the dawning of the era of new, unsteady, loveless relationship with my new lap top.

Through all that school has been thriving.

What? Yeah, I was surprised too.

This time of year I usually write up a post titled something like "what about school?" Trying to explain how we are holding on by either doing the bare bones or by altering the whole system to make it fit in the current season. Not this time. School is rocking!

So what are we doing different?

For starters, this year we began schooling at night.

This might sound crazy especially considering Beach gets out of gym at 8PM 4 days a week! But with a little tweak to the family charter clause about "not eating dinner in front of the TV", we can watch history and/or science documentaries at night.  Our favorite current media resources; American Experience, BBC, Frontline, NOVA, Nature, PBS, Radio Lab (NPR), & This American Life (NPR).

On the nights we don't have something educational in mind we read or play math games.

Part of what makes this work is that Beach is willing to stay up later (& sleep in a little longer to make up for it). We have never enforced a bedtime for her. We have left it up to her and she has always chosen to retire early. 

Last year she barely made it through eating dinner on a gym night. A game of UNO or an hour long documentary on the space program would have been impossible.

The other factor making this work is her knowledge base is getting so wide it makes it easy to find topics that engage her.  Yes, even history.

With night school in full swing it takes the pressure off during the day. We meet in the morning (8:00 am) and read together.  Spend 20-30 minutes doing math. Mid morning (10:00) we might work on art or photo editing, tackle a science topic, or do a few pages in the testing book (Complete Curriculum). 

If Beach is busy in her room I might pop in and read to her while she cleans (she loves cleaning her room, it helps her relax).

After making and sitting for a hot lunch together we spend about an hour listening to stories from either Creepy Pasta collections or NPR programs: The Moth, This American Life.

I use this time to pick up the house and get ready for work. Beach to draw/paint, eat a late afternoon snack, and eventually prepare for gym.

Another change working for us is the major decluttering of the house and school.  It has made all the difference!  We have just what we need when we need it.  Loosing all those extra books and projects honestly feels like I turned off a radio that has been loudly blaring away for years!  I never realized how much pressure and distraction the long list of what we should be doing next was for me.

The final key to our success under the fire of meet season & the past holidays is Beach's growing independence with her own studies. Not only can she do more on her own she wants to. And I have acquired a new nickname: Controlling Hands.

She has also found a few new mature passions; photography and autism.  A few weeks ago Beach began researching ways she might find a career working with children who have autism.  It shifted our science studies away from hard sciences and into the softer sciences.

So what about school? School is rocking. Right now it looks & feels like I always dreamed it would. Woven into the fabric of our lives, effortless and engaging. That is how it is until the weather changes....

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