In every home education journey you find pockets of the year where the echoes of your non-homeschooling friends run over and over in your head. "Kids home, all day, every day? And teach them? Are you crazy?" "When do you get a break?" "We basically can never go to lunch again." "How are you going to teach high school science?" "Your kids are going to be so weird" "Do you only grocery shop in chaos because everyone is always with you?" "I would lose my mind." Suddenly, we find ourselves fantasizing about the big yellow school bus chugging down the road to whisk the insanity out of our home, for just a little break.
The yellow school bus fantasy most often happens in the month of February, which many of us home educators have declared "National Homeschool Burnout Month." But what do you do when you're fantasizing about the yellow school bus in July?
You're panicking. Everyone else seems so ahead of the game. You get onto curriculum sites, buy the latest version of The Well Trained Mind, you read through Facebook group after Facebook group to find moms with perfectly laid out plans, an organized homeschool closet, and their kids are supposedly happily reading through every summer reading program they have found. You on the other hand, are consumed with thoughts of the yellow school bus. Instead of the excitement you once felt about planning for school, you now feel overwhelmed, tired, irritable, and overthinking every part of your child's educational journey.
Before you know it, you've convinced yourself you are not equipped to teach your children, you've lost all confidence in yourself and your kids, you've convinced yourself that every difficulty you can find in your child's character or behavior must be them bucking against being homeschooled, and you are secretly Googling other full-time, away from home, schooling options. All the while you are thinking, "At least I can finally get a break. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to put them in school. My kids love other kids. They could use the exposure to other adult teachers, and I wouldn't have to stress all the time about whether I'm doing the latest and greatest curriculum." You find yourself humming the tune of that old familiar preschool song, "The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round."
Then, as life would have it, you wake up the next morning to a different kind of day. The day where having your kids at home is the dream you always wanted it to be. No, it's not perfect, but the pace of the day is unhurried. There's time for academics, and time for reading, time for a hobby, or simply time for kids to run free and wild, the way it should be. Dad comes home after work and instead of the flurry of after school "stuff" that would come home with your kids on the yellow school bus (such as long evenings spent doing homework) you get a less stressed evening. There's time for dinner, and reading aloud, sports, activities, or just being together. Even ushering kids around to activities is less hectic because you don't have kids cramming hours of homework into the van rides to and from soccer practice. You find yourself thankful you're not in the frenzy of the traditional 40-hour school week away from home.
But, if you're like many homeschool moms, you find yourself worn a little too thin, no matter how wonderful your days at home with your children are. You don't want to give up home educating, but you don't want to join the rat race of a traditional school week away from home. You want to enjoy teaching your children without all the behind the scenes stressors that come with teaching your children (curriculum panic, lesson planning, accountability). You want your kids to be involved in some kind of homeschool group or school, but you don't want to waste a school day doing classes that don't fit within your educational model. You also don't want to be in groups that require you to do even more planning and more teaching than you already do in your own homeschool. You don't want to teach those subjects you don't like, or don't feel equipped to teach. You're tired of the constant curriculum choices. You kind of just want some relief. You want some confidence back and some joy in a structured, well thought out plan....one that you don't necessarily have to create. You just want a little bit of both- home and school.
So instead of spending the rest of July and August stressing about your pending school year, why not jump in and try something new? Before calling on the big yellow school bus to come whisk away the insanity, maybe the insanity just needs a different pace, a different model, or even a brand new curriculum you haven't used before. Maybe you would've picked a different Latin program or different literature readings. Maybe you would never do Latin at all! But maybe the change, the camaraderie, and collaboration is just what you need for July burnout. Maybe the collaborative, one and two day a week change in your homeschool is just what you and your kids need to find more balance, beauty, and blessings in your home educating journey.
“My daughter hates to write.” “My child is reluctant to even try writing and I don’t know how to motivate him to learn how to write.” “ I don’t know how to teach writing.” “My child never wants to write and doesn’t even know how to start.” “What is the best method to teach writing?”
These are all common statements and questions we hear from families whose students are entering the upper grammar school (3rd-4th), early logic school (5th-6th) and upper logic school (7th-8th). In traditional education, students are often expected to write with no clear model before them. This often leads to frustration and tears on the part of both parent and student as students proclaim, “I just don’t know what to write!” History’s greatest writers learned by imitation, acquiring skills that can be used and transferred to all kinds of writing and speaking. This takes a purposeful and cumulative process.
In our classical composition classes we aim to take students from being novice writers to master writers with a thoughtful, engaging, and deliberate process. A good writing teacher teaches students to communicate through language. They teach the process of not just writing, but thinking about writing. A master writing teacher teaches students to think about writing, to express their thoughts in such a way that others can understand, and to use their writing to move and persuade their readers.
Classical writing curricula is based on the classical progymnasmata. “Progymnasmata” is Greek for “preliminary exercises” and prepares students to enter their final rhetoric training (9-12th grade). Writing is an art that takes years to develop and requires good models and good teachers. In the classical progymnasmata, students study and imitate the work of master communicators as they progress through a series of fourteen exercises, or skills. These skills teach students to use proper grammatical constructions as a basis for their writing, guides them in writing in a logical and clear way, and teaches them to be able to express their ideas in a way that will suit any given audience or occasion.
At The Classical Academy we begin early writing skills in our Kindergarten through 2nd grade classes through narration, dictation, and copywork. In our 3rd through 8th grade classes students begin the classical progymnasmata. Here students progress through specified skills that build upon each other. They begin working with fables and narratives, learning the components of a story and adding new imaginative detail. After working through stories already written by master writers, students then begin to use stories. Students are taught how to take a truth and use a story to explain it. Previous skills continue to be reinforced level by level. Upper logic students finish logic school being able to refute or confirm parts of narratives. They are able to identify parts of stories that need refuting or confirming and form a solid argument that expresses their opinions. Outlining and multiple paragraph essays are used as students progress through this first half of the progymnasmata in grades 3-8.
Writing is an art that gives the student the ability to work with words and words have great power. We aim to graduate students who use their power of words (in spoken and written form) to bring about truth, goodness, and beauty. We take our responsibility as teachers seriously to teach students to love and pursue virtue.
Students enrolled at The Classical Academy in grades 3-8 receive all of their main writing lessons in school under our classical composition teacher. Students then take their assignments from class and work on them at home under the guidance of their parents. Check out our staff page to read about our phenomenal composition and grammar teacher, Annie Atkinson.
To learn more about how The Classical Academy partners with families on their home education journey, please check out the rest of our website. We love to hear from families so please let us know if you have any questions!