Monday, October 21, 2013

Upstate NY Homeschooling: Part 2

Quaker-inspired Community Life

Marcy & Lee are raising five beautiful children and a menagerie of animals, living close to the land in a Quaker intentional community. A flock of chickens provide eggs, meat, and entertainment, a garden supplies them with veggies, and a herd of sheep gives meat and wool. Marcy works the wool with her daughters, teaching them valuable crafting skills. Their best friends live next door with pigs, goats, more chickens, and another beautiful garden and greenhouse.

Each family on the property has their own garden and often a set of farm animals of their own. Families share the bounty weekly at a community potluck in the beautiful central farmhouse, the communal gathering space.

Their two oldest children attend public school, by choice. Marcy works with the three youngest at home, following a blended curriculum incorporating large elements of Waldorf as well as a more traditional reading & writing curriculum. The girls (ages 3 and 5) were eager to show me what they had learned, reciting autumnal verses that they had memorized, singing me songs, and showing me around their “schoolroom,” the former living room now dedicated to their lesson space.
The girls follow a daily rhythm, posted on a bulletin board alongside other images and words from their lessons.

Their rhythm, in Marcy’s own words:
The littles begin waking up around 7/7:30. They'll have some breakfast, get dressed, and have some quiet/free time until about 10am. During that time the girls may go outside and play, check chickens or go on a walk with Dad if he's home. It really depends on the day.
We begin lessons around 10:30. This is our time to do whatever book work we have, learn math concepts, writing, reading, and our social studies/science blocks. We typically finish our lessons within two hours or so. It depends on the depth of projects we're doing. We'll have lunch after we've finished (or we'll stop half way through, again, it depends on how the girls are feeling that day. I'm pretty child led in most instances.)
Our afternoons consist of some reading, playing, mindful work in the home, or painting.

I was impressed by how Marcy incorporates lessons around the homestead into the learning day. When the father found a cache of eggs buried in a corner of the henhouse, Marcy and the girls worked together to float the eggs to see if any were still edible. One egg was partially hatched but stone cold with a motionless chick inside. Marcy peeled off the rest of the shell to show the girls what a newborn looked like, and in the warmth of her hand, the chilly little chick began to stir and move its beak, much to everyone’s astonishment! They quickly worked to candle the rest of the eggs and put any that looked like they might be viable into the incubator. Amazingly, two more of the eggs ended up hatching into chicks, weeks later, and the newer baby chicks imprinted onto the older miracle chick. They now sleep nestled under the bigger mama-chick’s wings. I can imagine of no better, more exciting and heart-warming series of lessons than every piece of this baby-chick salvation epic.

The Quaker Intentional Village hosts a community-wide potluck every Friday that I was excited to attend: I knew that I would meet other interesting people involved in education. Gold Mine! First on the list is an incredible 14 year old who is homeschooling for the first time this year. He casually mentioned to me that he traveled to the Manhattan Free School to “help them set up their 3D printer.” This young person blew me away with his expertise, and his whole set-up is quite extraordinary. He and his father worked together to build a “TV B Gone,” a small device that sends out the signals required to turn off any of the major brands of TVs. His father designed a case for the device, the boy printed it out, and the two of them took a field trip to Wal-Mart to turn off all of their TVs, surreptitiously. Home-schooling at its finest!

The family has two beautiful blogs to chronicle their family life that I highly recommend you follow. Thank you, Marcy & Lee, for your inspiration!

I just arrived in Asheville, NC, where I have an action-packed week of school & community visits planned. Looking forward to more inspiration! Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment