Monday, February 25, 2013

Bringing it back home...

The most incredible and exciting thing has happened. We will be moving the HOMEschool enrichment center into our own backyard. Literally. Through the generous support of an anonymous donor we will be able to build out the classroom and put in a front fence for the play area and make the modifications necessary to welcome our families into the next stage of Learning Barefoot.                                                                                   

My most strongly held reason for wanting to homeschool came from reading "Dumbing Us Down" by John Taylor Gatto. Institutional schooling is not something I believe in. It is my opinion that children learn best by modeling the behavior they see. This is totally being underscored as I watch my 2 littles observe and absorb everything their two older sibs (and we parents) do.

After watching The War On Kids and Waiting For Superman (both available to watch instantly on Netflix), it helped me define what I do stand for. What Learning Barefoot was created for. While I am not in favor of compulsory institutional education, I strongly support a consciously committed community educational environment- a place where kids can feel like they "belong". Don't we all want to be a part of something larger than our immediate family? A place where our traditions and cultural ideals are shared- or at the very minimum, fully accepted.

  1. A group of people living together in one place, esp. one practicing common ownership: "a community of nuns".
  2. All the people living in a particular area or place: "local communities".

Community is still largely defined as being a geographic term, although in many societies, and with the increasingly easy ability to come together from within larger areas, some have started to segregate themselves into "like-minded" groups. As an eclectic homeschooler, I share opinions with many of them- even the ones who strongly oppose each other.

It seems that without a unifying purpose (not merely a belief system), the "ties that bind" are rarely tight enough to keep a tribe together and when someone acts out of alignment with the group, they aren't exactly ex-communicated (usually) but they are less frequently included or invited to shared events. The whole inclusive/ exclusive battle has lots of grey areas depending on how connected you are. 

One mama told me "there aren't any cliques, we are just closer friends" -it felt okay to communicate/ vent/ manipulate the group from within that inner circle to "protect their kids from outer influences". Fine for them, perhaps a little harder for the families who have kids that have connected to the kids of those mamas, who don't care about minor differences in parenting style as long as all parties are willing to love through any conflicts.

Learning Barefoot is a place that supports ALL family style learning and education methods. Our primary purpose is to provide a safe, welcoming, resource filled environment where adults and kids are actively engaged in interesting pursuits- alleviating the need for the constant discussion of "how" and providing a planned "what". As facilitators we do things alongside the kids, with their interests, ideas and insight always encouraged. If they aren't feeling like being in the "group", there is a quiet reading/ writing/ meditation corner where they are welcome to wander if they feel the need.

We do not require participation- our program is designed to facilitate friendships and connection. We recognize that sometimes when kids share an exciting discovery they will want to find out what else they might also share an interest in- so if in the middle of science two kids start talking about comic books, it's OK with us. However for the sake of the other kids who may still want to continue exploring the scientific principles being displayed, we will invite them to move to another area (or if possible include everyone in the new "rabbit trail" and skillfully bring it back around to at least a bit of closure on the original topic - modeling a very valuable leadership skill- keeping a meeting on task). 

We are now able to be sure that our program will be in a place where we can truly embrace our family's style of learning. And from what the kids currently in our program tell us, they would really like some of the "trappings" of "school"- just because they are curious and it sounds cool. We are not trying to recreate a "school at home" experience, merely listen to the things kids really want- like lockers, lunch tables and lots of games to play.

The community we hope to build will be a mix of cultures, traditions, methods and means- just like any good melting pot. We will ask only that families respect each other, communicate quickly and openly and accept that there will be times when we all act out of alignment. 

Grace. Joy. Chance. May. 

Our kids names and the foundation our "philosophy"...
Everyone needs grace
All are entitled to seek joy
We encourage taking a chance
All may do what they like to do (as long as it doesn't interfere or distract others from doing their thing- and should it, our first question will always be "Can I help sort this out?").

Shawn and I love creating, gardening and musical movement- his artistic abilities and passion for science combined with my love of language and fascination with social studies, weave together into a tapestry that is colorful, eclectic and a bit eccentric!

We invite you to experience Learning Barefoot. April 1st. No fooling.

A brand new (much bigger) meeting room. A back yard for science, herbal studies, composting and gardening and a front yard for playing, running, jumping- a nice long concrete area for trikes, chalk, hopscotch. A mini "stage" for performing al fresco and lots and lots of love.

We will be able to add back into our schedule:
  • Toddler "Paint, Paste & Pour"
  • Baby & Toddler Signing Classes 
  • Family Style Backyard Science

Three additional facilitators will bring 
  • Music
  • Lego Engineering 
  • a foreign language (French or Spanish- maybe both!)
Our two beloved new friends will continue with us
  • Julie's Herbal Studies will now be held in a more conducive environment 
  • Jenn's Holistic Kids Classes include Nutrition, Laughing Yoga, Self Expression - Writing or Arts & Crafts

And of course we will continue offering our core programs- 
  • Science
  • Drawing
  • Video Production
  • Readers Theater
  • Magic Treehouse Bookclub
  • and our cornerstone Enrichment Program (which includes Science & Geography) 
Last but certainly not least we will happily keep our Social Activities running...

  • Glee Group
  • Lapbooking Lounge
  • Passion for Fasion
  • Newspaper Staff

Finally our members will be happy to hear that their membership now includes even more and we will be sharing those changes at our parent meetings in Mid March.

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