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Stumbled Upon MP & Cottage Schools This Year

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    Stumbled Upon MP & Cottage Schools This Year

    Hello! My name is Shawna Barr and I've posted here a couple of times. What I have mainly been doing though is when I have a spare second (which is rarely) is mine the treasure trove of wisdom here about Cottage Schools.

    Jennifer (pickngrin), you offered me such a thoughtful response on the "multi-age" post, and it was FULL of great ideas and questions to ask, and I never had the chance to respond. So thank you very much.

    I have endeavored to begin co-op this year, and have bitten off too much. I had never heard of a Cottage School when I started this year. The learning curve has been steep but very worth the trouble. So now I am now in the midst of gearing up for next year and developing a plan and a program. (I'll save you the details on all the things that haven't worked this year.)

    I've been drawn to MP as my curriculum of choice for the grammar class that I teach. I started out with other curriculum, but it just was not working in a classroom setting. I've never used MP until this year, but rather have gone to Veritas Press, Classical Academic Press, and the Well Trained Mind for curriculum in my homeschool....as well as an eclectic blend of other materials. I've moved more towards Classical as the years have gone by. My kids are ages 18 (graduated) 16, 13, 13, and 6. All of my teenagers (except the graduate) are full-time diploma students at Wilson Hill Academy, and my focus now is on my last little one.

    I also live in a very tiny, remote mountain community of Northern California. We have a fairly large number of homeschoolers for our population, but very few "classical" homeschoolers. There are no Christian schools in our community at all, and at present, no homeschool cooperative. (Save the experimental one that I started this year...which will be changing form next year.)

    Because of our very small population, and the very diverse range of homeschoolers who live here, finding common ground for a co-op is truly a challenge. We also have a contingent of families who really would like more of a private school than a homeschool cooperative. Full-day private schools have struggled here because we don't have the population to support the cost.

    For a small town, we also have quite the range of Christian traditions--evangelicals to Catholics, who will all need to work together if Christian education outside of our own homes is to be realized.

    So here's what I have:

    Very small population
    Homeschooler families and Private school families
    Varied educational philosophies, values, backgrounds
    Varied Christian Traditions
    Few true-believers in Classical Ed (many simply yet unfamiliar)

    The things that families do tend to value, as I've discovered this year, is the structured "school-like" consistency that our cooperative has provided this year. Homeschoolers appreciated being able to have a little break and to delegate some of the academic responsibility. Our previously public-school participants appreciated the same thing. The idea of fully homeschooling is overwhelming, and for some, not tenable because of the need to work outside the home.

    This year, we did a combination of consistent teacher-lead instruction (I taught math and language arts to a 1/2 grade class and another teacher taught the same to a 3/4 grade class.) and volunteer-parent led enrichment (science, history, art).

    The consistent teacher-led instruction worked well. The shared volunteer-led teaching did not. It was inconsistent and parents bring such a varied level of abiliy, preparation, and classroom management.

    Next year, our parents really want a solid language are/math program, teacher-taught, 4 mornings a week. And they want to just pay for it and forget the co-op model. Then, they want to continue with their own homeschooling plan in the afternoons and on Fridays.

    Our families are willing to adopt MP curriculum for Language Arts and Math and pay teachers to teach it. They want to do their own thing for science, history, art, etc. The language arts and math instruction is where a lot of homeschooling families (at least in our demographic) struggle with consistency and don't want to fight battles around the kitchen table. They want to teach the fun and creative and leave math facts and spelling to someone else. This model also works for our families who really are more "private school" minded, than homeschooling. Teaching their kids to read and write is intimidating.

    Latin would also be a part of the language arts curriculum.

    So, that is what I am considering next year--a 4-morning a week program. Paid, professional teachers and two and eventually 3 combined grade levels, covering language arts and math up to grade 5 respectively. Classes would be divided by MP1 curriculum, MP 2/3 curriculum, and MP 4/5 curriculum.

    I realize that this is not the model that most on this board are practicing, and that makes me a little nervous. However, I don't think that the Cottage School models represented on this would board would work in my community.

    Thanks for hearing me! The information here is invaluable. I LOVED the post on classroom discipline. It described my life perfectly trying to teach a room full of homeschool kids!
    Last edited by ShawnaB; 02-01-2019, 02:54 PM.

    #2
    Good for you Shawna for bringing what you can to the area where you are! What you have ahead is slow work, but what you are offering is deeply good and will manifest itself in time. It sounds like you have a great plan laid out for next year and families who are on board. It is OK if it doesn't look identical to what others are doing. We all look to the model of HLS but we have to embody it in our community. No one on the board here knows your community better than you. Strong language arts including Latin and a robust math program are a GREAT beginning. As time goes on there may be demand for other things. Time will tell. In the meantime, I'm celebrating with you for what you have done and what is ahead.

    Do you have any plans to attend the Sodalitas Gathering and/or CLSA Teacher Training this summer? I realize it is very far away from you. However, if you can work that professional development into your school budget it is quite worth it. You will be able to glean ideas that you can incorporate that are not necessarily content but philosophy. You can run a very classical school without calling it one. (That's a secret; don't tell anyone.) If your school joins CLSA, which is very affordable, you can consult with them for bringing whatever measure of classical pedagogy and content you feel like you can do at this point and make a game plan for slowly moving in the direction of your vision. Kathy Becker leads the western schools division for CLSA and she's an administration expert. If you come this summer, make sure you connect with her. All of us mature into our vision over time. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will our little tutorials and cottage schools be.

    I am thankful that you haven't said, "I can't copy the model exactly, so it's not worth doing." That would be a great loss! I wish you ALL the best in your endeavor and thanks for the udpate!
    Festina lentē,
    Jessica P

    SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
    @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
    S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
    D · 8th
    D · 5th
    S · 2nd

    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

    Comment


      #3
      Thank you Jessica...and I realize I called you Jennifer in my previous post! Please accept my apology--that's just terrible!

      Jessica, you must have the gift of encouragement, and probably wisdom too. You are right about the slow work. I need to rest in that reality, as it has become very clear to me this year that developing a quality program that will meet the needs of families in this community is something that will take time and planning.

      I am glad to hear you say that starting with Language Arts and Math is a good beginning. These subjects do have broader appeal. And they are also within my own wheelhouse. I am a certified teacher for elementary. I've had much training in early literacy and math, although not specifically classical. I came to classical through my own self-study as a homeschooling mom, and also a reading tutor for struggling students. There are so many approaches to literacy, but I find I keep coming back to classical methodologies.

      I would LOVE to come to Sodalitas. Hmm....will have to look at the feasibility of such as a trip. Thank you again for the encouragement!

      Shawna

      Comment


        #4
        And also, this: " You can run a very classical school without calling it one. (That's a secret; don't tell anyone.)" I love this. Thank you. This is exactly my strategy!

        And I really appreciate the referrals and contacts for additional support.

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          #5
          I'm so glad it was helpful! I'm laughing thinking about the "Shawna's school way" just incidentally being the same as the "Memoria Press way" and laughing . What a coincidence!
          Festina lentē,
          Jessica P

          SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
          @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
          S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
          D · 8th
          D · 5th
          S · 2nd

          Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

          Comment

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