Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Preparing for the Homeschool Year


Early morning in the woods, North Carolina

Summer still feels in full swing but the calendar says it's winding down. Our first homeschooling year begins in just a few weeks and some of you have expressed curiosity about what we are doing to prepare and plan for it. My last post on feeling good but protective of our decision to homeschool was written as part of this post but I pulled it apart to publish separately. Along those same lines, however, sharing the specifics of what we are doing this year feels a little uncomfortable. I know that confidence will come with experience and that I will eventually (hopefully soon!) move past this period of sensitivity to outside opinion, but for now it does feel awkward to write out my very in-progress process here for all to see. But I still want to share it. :)

For the better part of a year Andy and I have had casual but ongoing conversations about our goals for Roscoe in this first year of homeschooling. We recently folded him into the discussion to capture his goals and to incorporate what he is interested in and wants to know more about. Archery! Dissection! Guns! Cooking! Guitar! He has lots of ideas. I've compiled our collective brainstorms and in addition to, and separate from, our intention to use the PBH approach to support his interests, we've identified some topics and skills that we think will benefit his independence and help him to grow into the best Roscoe he can be, as we like to say around here.

Some of our big ideas:

  • This year we will explore artistic representation methods and learn what we can and cannot do with different making materials so that when he has an idea he will have the skills needed to adequately express it: textures, movement, color, three dimensional media, drawing and painting. I'm using the The Language of Art to guide our explorations in this area. 
  • Nature is our outdoor classroom and we'll continue spending as much time outside as we can throughout all the seasons. In addition to our usual, Marr Science offers well-loved science courses for kids of all ages and I've enrolled Roscoe for a 5-week course in the Fall that will explore science through movement. 
  • I want to continue to foster his sense of self, family, home, and community in a way that gives him a better understanding of how and where he fits in. I see this happening organically through our regular interactions at home and within our different circles. 
  • I also want to engage him more intentionally in what goes on in our family kitchen; to continue to share my love of food prep and making through basic cooking skills that will build his confidence and extend an opportunity for Roscoe to contribute to our weekly meals. 
  • Same goes for adapting the environment and our parental expectations to increase his responsibility and independence at home. 
  • In the last few months I've begun to introduce Spanish vocabulary through our daily conversations, and the kids are eager learners. 
  • Regular play dates with his friends, and other children from various groups that we belong to, as well as invitations for friends to join us in our weekly activities and to work on projects together will come as we can work them in. 
  • I want to continue to facilitate Roscoe and Merritt's brotherhood. 

When I look at this list I have to shrug my shoulders because most of these ideas are what we do and would be doing regardless of whether Roscoe was homeschooling. Even so, it is a helpful exercise to take time to think through the intersection of our home life, Roscoe's personality, and home education. Articulating these ideas (and posting them where I can easily reference them) helps me to keep an eye on our intentions and to remember the specifics.

The most Homeschool-y thing that we will do this year will be the portion of his learning that we set aside for project based inquiries: emergent, child-led, interest-based work that I will actively mentor him through. I'll report back on that part once we get started.

We are truly excited to move into this next phase of our life together, and sharing the last couple of mostly-solo months with the boys has shown me how our time can ideally be spent, what routines work well for us right now and how to harness their un-ending energy for good. Of equal value, I've confirmed yet again—by virtue of not having most of these things this Summer—what I will need to feel happy and sane and purposeful beyond mothering this year: loads of self-care (good sleep, good food, time with friends and Andy, and time to exercise), a few child-free hours a week to stay on top of my list of family to-dos, and dedicated time for pleasure writing. I’m narrowing in on my personal formula for success (Finally, after five years!) and it feels so doable now that I've made the other big decision to not pursue paid work this year.

Merritt will be in preschool either three or five day a week, depending on if he makes the birthdate cut-off for the 3 or 4 year old class. I requested five days in anticipation of wanting dependable one-on-one project time with Roscoe every week, but I think five days may be a lot for Merritt, not to mention the ways that the daily preschool schedule will constrain our at-home routine. We are spoiled by Summer's freedom from imposed schedules.

Looking forward, I've let go of the idea of an uber organized and structured introduction to homeschooling life in favor of allowing these first few months to be a slow ramping up to where we hope to get to in terms of a learning rhythm and routine. I have a feeling that Roscoe may not jump right into something that looks like an obvious project and that it may take some time before he settles into a groove and focuses on what feels like authentic project work. I can guarantee that I will be learning as I go, practicing observation and documentation of his process, practicing using the right language to facilitate his learning process, and continuing to make my own personal learning and doing processes more transparent for him to model.

I'm not sure what the year is going to look like yet but I'm looking ahead only as far as the next season will take me. September. October. November. Little steps to big goals.

7 comments :

  1. Thank you for sharing I know how hard it can be to put yourself out there

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  2. I'm so excited to read about how this plays out! I have a 3 year old right now and am already thinking about kindergarten options. Your blog updates and texts are helping to inform my own decisions!

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    1. Thank you, I think it's a great time to be considering your options for kindergarten and I'm happy to hear that my process is helping yours. Are you local to Richmond or do you live elsewhere?

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  3. I like your outline of ideas for homeschooling - sort of brings a seemingly daunting concept down to home. Totally reasonable and attainable goals. And like you said, they are ideas you would be fostering even if you weren't homeschooling the kids.
    I just read your last post as well and I have to admit that I would feel the exact same way if we were homeschooling. In fact, its probably one of the big reasons we choose not to (sadly). There is a lot of external opinions, judgement, thoughts, etc… that are both voiced to and about you when decide to parent outside "traditional" parameters. I don't know if I have the backbone to standup and explain myself to everyone who would question our decision (especially to our families). Like you said, it would be easier to just hide the fact and keep it to yourself!

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    1. The judgement/skepticism is a bummer and at the same time I know it's out there for any number of parenting decisions that I have or haven't made, so it feels like the most important thing right now is that I find my own confidence or peace with where we're at. The judgement will be there either way, you know? In my head I feel like a normal parent, but I do realize that much of our parenting choices are not those of the mainstream; so there's this internal dialogue I have about that disconnect particularly when a decision screams, "Hey, I'm different!", as homeschooling does. As for our goals this year, of course reading and writing and math concepts are on my mind but I am trying to un-school myself in some ways from the culture that says these things must be accomplished in the kindergarten year. I feel like he'll find his way to these subjects when he is ready developmentally and/or when he finds them relevant to know in order to pursue his interests and/or when the occur in the context of his learning or every day life. The kindergarten year feels particularly flexible. Thanks for your support :)

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  4. "this period of sensitivity to outside opinion"- I feel ya! I'm just now starting to feel comfortable coming out of the homeschooling closet, but not quite as comfortable coming out of the unschooling closet yet. It just takes too much explaining sometimes... no curriculum? what?!

    Roscoe sounds like he's going to have a great year!

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