Early this past Wednesday morning I received a text message from ROCS Director Cheryl Ryan asking if I could come in to substitute. I wanted to help but I had some things scheduled in the morning. And then, frankly, I was looking forward to some time by myself.
My daughter attends ROCS Wednesdays-Fridays and had only had one day of school the previous week due to parent-teacher conferences. As a part-time homeschooling mom I cherish the time I spend with my daughter learning together and I am grateful for Red Oak so I don't have to be entirely responsible for filling her days. I also realize that in order for the school to flourish and be there for me when I need time to work uninterrupted, I sometimes need to make sacrifices. That's what it means to be a cooperative enterprise. (For more on this see Ask Not (Just) What Red Oak Can Do for You...)
And so, I went to school to lend a hand in the afternoon. And I'm so glad I did.
In my new role as acting chair of the Education Committee, I had been meaning to schedule time to observe during the school day anyway. I have been outside with the kids many times and volunteered to sing with them, but not spent much time nor had a real sense of what their indoor instructional time looked, sounded, or felt like.
What I found brought me back to some original marketing materials for ROCS which described it as a "gentle place to learn." I think this may have been a reference to homeschool champion Charlotte Mason, about whom I didn't and still don't know very much. But something about that phrase resonated with me. If I wasn't going to homeschool my daughter full-time, I wanted her to spend her "school days" someplace that felt like home. A place where physical and cognitive barriers were somewhat fluid, where she could sing while she did arithmetic, and where she could learn through play, where she could read books throughout the day....
No doubt part of this home away from home feel comes from our current location inside a charming old farmhouse. This is an advantage, and reflection of the Reggio Emilia principle of "the classroom as third teacher." The idea is that the spaces in which we learn contribute to our learning and have lessons to teach us as much as our teachers and classmates. But the house has some disadvantages too as it can get loud and feel a bit cramped. So, I'll look forward to seeing how our little school grows over time, as I cherish where were are today.
Here are a few things I saw. I hope I was able to capture the hygge I felt.
-Jodi Kushins, ROCS Mom and Blog Editor