Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Edwards Academy is back in session

Come August, every mother in America has one thing running through her mind: "I can't wait until school starts!"
The glorious free-for-all that is summertime, the release from routine that tasted so good in May, has lost its appeal. Although our kids claim they could go on forever living like Tom Sawyer with shoes off, bedtimes forgotten, imaginations running with abandon, and, well, unlike Tom, more afternoon movie times, the fact is that the utility of these things has diminished.

Most mothers are counting down until the school bus comes barreling down their street (why do those leviathans go so fast through quiet neighborhoods?), bringing relief from the cries of "What can I do, Mom?" that assault them throughout the day. Homeschooling moms, however, look for relief in different quarters.

We re-sharpen our pencils, re-work our planners, re-think our curriculum, and re-order our schedule. Then we blog about it.

We started last school year with such enthusiasm and promise, just as we do every August, but since I ended up spending the nine months of school pregnant, the year turned out to be one of survival. Hopefully this year will be all I hope it to be.

Here's the plan:

Tapestry of Grace Year 2: Between Ancient and Modern. This is my sixth year of teaching with Tapestry of Grace and I love it. I'm still sad that it hasn't caught on with a bigger following in my area (although on the other hand, if it did the library books might be harder to come by!). TOG scares people because it seems so overwhelming. Actually, though, once you find your rhythm, it is a very helpful, highly flexible guide into imparting a high-quality classical education.

Although we haven't hit high school yet, TOG has some of the best resources I've seen for helping moms to continue pursuing a classical education for the high schooler and figure out how to translate that into credits and transcripts that make sense to college admissions offices.

Here's my back-to-school post from last year. Great links there for making Tapestry of Grace workbooks and teaching planners.

Truth Treasure Hunters. Our little group languished last year, a victim of my pregnancy, but we are re-starting the group this year. Our three families plan to meet nearly every Monday afternoon with three specific objectives: hold a history/literature discussion for the older students, provide a time to share TOG work with peers, and tackle a hands-on activity.

A great feature of TOG is the teacher-led discussion that is provided in the teacher's notes for each week. No mother has time to read all that their students are reading, but TOG gives you the right Socratic questions to ask--with the right answers to listen for. Although this can be done with one student, it is more rewarding for moms and kids with three families in the mix.

Another benefit of joining with other TOG families is the unit celebration. TOG encourages that at the end of each school quarter a thematic celebration is held. Grandparents are invited, work is displayed, presentations are made, and the accomplishments are celebrated.

Classical Conversations. I'm not sure if we are crazy to try this in addition to Tapestry of Grace, but this year we are participating in our local Classical Conversations community. CC has a very structured program for grammar students which centers on memorizing the "grammar" of key subjects: history, geography, math, science, English, and Latin. In addition to the memory work, students do a science experiment and a fine arts activity each week.

CC's content isn't rocket science, but appeals because it is organized for you and the structure keeps you on track. Yes, you can do it all on your own, but would you?

Other Subjects. We're sticking with the usual (see my homeroom resources in the side bar) for our other subjects. The only real change here is switching Hope and Sydney (5th grade) to Saxon Math. After trial and error over the years, I've decided that for our family Horizons is the right choice for the lower elementary years and Saxon is best for the upper elementary years. I owe Math U See, however, for its wonderful method of teaching place value.

Bible Study Fellowship. This year our whole family will be attending BSF! I'm switching to a day class in order to take Toby and Lydia to the preschool program. Our school aged kids will go with Mr. Edwards in the evening. BSF is an important part of our daily routine, as the kids complete their BSF Bible study each morning.

AWANA. We still love AWANA.

Preschool. Toby, who is four, is starting preschool three days a week at Grandma's house. Poor Toby has endured a tough year in which his mother has been hopelessly distracted by pregnancy, homeschooling older siblings, and caring for a new baby. He needs structure and routine and accountability and will finally be getting it! Thank you, Grandma!


Laura at By the Bushel said...

excellent, excellent, excellent. Looks like a wonderful year at the Edwards. I'm intrigued by TOG.
I'm going to follow some of your links and consider it for years ahead. Thanks for sharing. Best for the year to come. Laura

Meredith said...

You got that spot on! There is something wonderful about the beginning of summer and anticipating all the good things that the summer break will bring. There is something equally good about anticipating a return to routine. And it is under those routines that our children thrive.

I am sure I said this last year about this time, but the teacher in me thrills at your description of new curriculum, new books, sharpened pencils. A fresh start accompanied with big hopes. It's kind of nice for you (you, as in dwellers of the northern hemisphere) with this mid-year fresh start. Here down in the south we have New Year and the new school year all happening at the same time. And if one's birthday marks another occasion at which to reflect back and look forward, well I have that ten days into the new year as well! So all my fresh starts happen at once.

But to you dear Amy, enjoy the new school year. May each of the students at Edwards Academy thrive and grow this year - and their teachers too. And it sounds like a great plan for Toby too.

God bless,

Davesgirl said...

Sounds like a great plan, and a familiar one! I have used TOG all along and love it, but we are also starting CC this year! I am not going to attempt doing both, at least not in the first 12 weeks since we just studied TOG Yr 2 last year. If I think I can do it, I'll attempt it in the spring. It is sad though, bc I have loved TOG since my oldest was 3 and I found it :( But we'll try CC for now- I am excited about it. I think your plan sounds really well thought out, but tiring! LOL :) You can do it! :)

Mrs. Edwards said...

Thank you for all your encouragement. It means so much to me!

How funny that you are following a similar path with CC. Although we haven't started CC yet, from the tutor training I'm realizing that it really is mostly a grammar memory system--which is fantastic and suits the classical method. Although you could use the CC material as a springboard for teaching history at home (and I think this is what a lot of people do), I just can't give up TOG. I love the whole package. So, for our family, CC will be a wonderful memory program for giving them the "pegs" of knowledge to hang further learning upon, as it comes.

Thanks for your comments! I love getting to know readers.

Kellie said...

I hope you have a wonderful school year! I'm jealous of you getting to do CC and BSF. I thought a CC class was going to open on my side of town this year, but it did not and I can't justify driving over an hour to get to the nearest class. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes for you balancing CC and TOG. And BSF... my 10+ years were such a special time in my life, and I'm praying some day I'll be back. Again, it's mostly a location and timing thing. It was easier to make the drive in the morning when the kids could go with me, but our evening class is the same night my husband has church meetings and Bible study. I can't wait to hear how the new Isaiah study is!

Anonymous said...

Hello, dear cyber buddy - I too am excited about the new school year and eager to jump into year 1 TOG. We are starting a new rotation this year. I'm eager to hear your reflections on Classical Conversations and I'd love to see the results of your TOG group projects. I'm a lone TOG-er here so projects for us are usually limited to our family. Do tell!

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