Sunday, July 24, 2005

SLOCA Weekly Update, 7/21/05

Greetings to all,
I hope this finds you all enjoying your summer and hopefully finding time for reading, relaxing and renewal! Susie and her family are away this week. It is my family's turn next week. In spite of vacations SLOCA has had a productive week with many pieces of news.

Enrollment
We are pleased to announce our enrollment is now 25 students strong! We welcome the three children of the Scott Marcum family to our SLOCA family! We have only two spaces left for first grade and then we will need to establish a waiting list! We are still accepting applications and will do so until we reach our class size limit of 12. This is all happening via word of mouth, so thank you all so much for your enthusiastic approach to those you have in your circle of influence. We are really looking forward to this new school and school year!

School Site
We toured two potential facilities this week, each with pluses and minuses. Unfortunately we can't report that we have a site at this time, but we are making headway! We have also been able to follow up on other suggested leads. Again, please pass along to us any spaces that you become aware of that might work for our school even on a temporary basis.

Curriculum
As you are looking for literature titles, if you haven't already found this, Amazon will list sellers of a used copies of a particular title. I have had great success working with this method and saved a few dollars in the process. We have happily answered many curriculum questions either via email or telephone. I want to reiterate that we are happy to talk with interested families about what curricular choices we have made for the school. Please direct those you may know to our contact information found at the bottom of each weekly update as well as the blog.

The Feature Article this week-

How Much is Enough?
I have been asked a great question many times, "Are we doing enough?" More often than not those who have asked that question are doing more than "enough". Let's explore what might be an adequate measurement of what is enough when you are home schooling. First of all there are several considerations that we must identify. What is the age of your student (or students)? How much is enough varies from age and stage. Developmentally, enough is determined by focusing stamina. A young child usually has the staying power of 20 - 30 minutes per subject area. This focus time is not included in the time for a hands on project, it reflects their ability to attend through listening, their ability to process the information heard and retain it. If you planned a 20 minute period of instruction in one curricular area and then allowed about that much time additionally for an activity to reinforce the instruction, then you would want 30 - 40 minutes per subject for your time with that one child. Charlotte Mason recommends short, focused times of learning throughout the
various stages. I have found that to be best with my sons as well, even as they have grown older. We typically spend only the morning doing what one classical educator, Sally Clarkson, refers to as disciplined studies. These would include, math, language arts, science and history and Scripture (for those who study the Bible). The afternoon time is spent on discretionary studies such as art, music, crafts, building, and other pursuits in a particular curricular area. For example, our son loves to learn more in a subject area such as history, so afternoons are for reading the history encyclopedia or searching the internet for the recommended sites for the interest he is pursuing. Another consideration for knowing if you have been doing enough is the response of your students. Are they willing to work or are they over-whelmed with the amount or challenge of the material? The best skill a home schooling parent can develop is the skill of studying your students. You will learn if they are doing enough or if there is a character trait that needs to be developed such as diligence and perseverance. You will also know if they are desiring more than what you have been giving by the responses to the topics. Something else to consider is the reality of your family's season of life. Are you caring for a new baby, or for an aging or ill family member? What is enough may need to be adjusted to the various seasons of life. Keep in mind the core curricular areas of math, language arts, history, and science as you map out your time frames. Make time for those areas of study, perhaps trimming off time from other courses of study for a while until your available time is increasing. Sometimes forming a teaching co-op for a short period can help you with time management while you are being a care giver. All these elements are important considerations when you evaluate if you are doing enough. One important caution: don't compare your home school with another family. They are choosing their method and it may not fit with your student's learning style or age and stage. It saddens me to hear parents bemoaning what another family is doing that they are not. There are many ways to approach educating your children and the right way is the way your family has arrived at and feels peaceful about. This includes whether or not you choose to join a group or part time school like ours. The beauty of home schooling is that it can meet the needs of diverse students and families because it can be tailored in a variety of ways. Enjoy the journey!

Finally...
We so appreciate all the great questions and suggestions that have been shared. Please keep them coming!

Until next week,
Susie Theule and Lisa Lewis

Contact information:
San Luis Obispo Classical Academy
P.O. Box 3601,
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403-3601
805-748-4048
email: sloclassicalacademy@gmail.com
blog: http://sloca.blogspot.com


"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
William Yeats

Saturday, July 23, 2005

SLOCA Weekly Update, 7/14/05

Hello SLOCA Families-

It's Thursday, it must be update time! I heard someone say recently
"you'll probably address this in the blog". That was very encouraging
to know people are not only reading but are looking forward to finding out more! We do have many news items to share.

We Are Official!
San Luis Obispo Classical Academy is an officially recognized corporate entity at the state level! This is the first of three big steps toward becoming a nonprofit corporation at the state and federal levels.

Why Nonprofit if it's so much work?
We have been asked this question a few times. The purpose of going the extra steps to form a nonprofit corporation is to allow us to secure grants for curriculum, computer labs, special training opportunities for parent teachers and mentor teachers, and many other support services for the school. In addition, as a nonprofit entity the school will be able to receive donations for the ongoing benefit of program function and those who donate receive a tax deduction. These are long term goals but much easier to implement from the beginning rather than go back and reconstruct at a later date.

Intake Interviews
We have established an official parents with directors interview which each prospective family will attend. As we have been gathering data regarding how private schools function, one consistent point has been an initial interview between the parents and directors. The purpose of the interview is to discuss how both the school and family will implement the classical model, to discuss the SLOCA Code of Conduct and to clarify any questions that may have come up in the application process. This interview process also provides time for either the family or the school to reconsider the partnership with SLOCA. As a family indicates their interest in applying to the school, we are scheduling the interviews in August.

School Site Options
We had a great time meeting our many of our committed families on Tuesday evening. Of the many things we discussed our site need was a priority. There were many new ideas suggested and contacts are being made to follow up with the great suggestions. We're so glad to have such a great group of families! Hopefully we will have this site issue resolved soon!

School Size Limit
We have discussed how to best meet the needs of all the students who want to join us this year and we have decided to set a limit on the total number of students per class at 12. That means in first grade we currently have only 4 openings. If you know interested families, please encourage them to contact us soon. We are amazed at the number of calls and emails asking for more information about SLOCA daily. Thanks to you all for spreading the word!

The Feature Article this week is-
What is Home Schooling Like?
This is a question that has a variety of answers. For some it has added a wonderful dynamic to their family. For others (those of us over-doers!) it may add a lot of work. Allow me to explore this topic a bit for those of you who have not yet home schooled. I think of three F's when I think of a way to talk about home schooling, and those are not letter grades! Freedom, Flexibility, and Fun! These are ideas that really epitomize this journey for me. Freedom to establish a schedule that is conducive to the life of your family. Freedom to spend as much or as little time on a subject as you see fit. Freedom to skip to a different subject than you did at that time on another day. There are many more I'm sure that other home schoolers can think of as well. Flexibility is tied to freedom. But there is more to it as well. In home schooling your children you have the flexibility to adjust the instruction of a particular subject to meet the needs of your child. Let's use a math lesson for an example. You sit with your child and begin a lesson. As you are asking clarifying questions, you realize they understand the concept quickly. You have the flexibility to give them two or three skill practice problems to verify your observations, and once completed you can move on if you so choose. The final word for our family has been FUN! We have been able to spend time with Daddy when Daddy could take time off and not feel like we were shirking responsibility. We have built LEGO creations to represent the Pyramids, a castle, an oceanography unit and many other demonstrations of learning. We have done lots of math through baking together and of course eating together! We have been able to serve the needy at the Food Bank distribution site. I can go on and on. My point is home schooling is what your family makes it. We will be here to mentor you through the new adventure for your family and are looking forward to partnering with you in the journey.

On Curriculum:
We had a great resource mentioned to us that we want to be sure to pass on. www.childsbooks.com is the web address. Their prices were consistently lower than other sites. It's worth checking out!

Finally...
We so appreciate all the great questions and suggestions that have been shared. Please keep them coming!

Again, if you would like to be removed from this update list just email us to let us know and we will quickly honor your request!

Until next week,
Susie Theule and Lisa Lewis

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
William Yeats

Contact information:
San Luis Obispo Classical Academy
P.O. Box 3601,
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403-3601
805-748-4048
email: sloclassicalacademy@gmail.com
blog: http://sloca.blogspot.com

Saturday, July 09, 2005

SlOCA Weekly Email Update, 7/7/05

Hello SLOCA Families -

Time for another weekly update, and we have some exciting things to share with you!

We've Reached Our Goal!
We are so happy to announce that as of today, we have 20 registered students for this fall.  Our goal was 20, and we are thrilled we've reached it at this point in the summer.  We are confident we'll keep adding in numbers during the next 6 weeks.  Thank you again to all who have joined us and for those that have spread the word to interested families.  We are excited!

Welcome!
This week we have seven new families to welcome, including the Ronda's, the Pock's, the Olson's, and the Boughton's.  We'll share the other family names as we receive permission to do so.  There is an air of excitement amongst the families that is contagious, and we truly look forward to being partners with these families this coming year.

Class Distribution
Many are interested in how we will section off the various grade levels.  Let us share with you where we're at with this right now. This could change, as registration continues to add new students.  But for now, this is where it stands. . .

We will have one kindergarten class, one first grade class, one class of grades 2-4, and one class grades 5&6.  Our fourth grade may be added to the 5 & 6 rather than the 2 & 3 class.  That will depend entirely on the students who register.  Again our ideal is single grade level classes. There is still space in all classes, but enough to rely upon for sectioning them this way with the exception of kindergarten.  We definitely need more students to provide this grade level this year.  So far, we have two committed families, and will hold out through August for more kindergarten sign ups.  In the meantime, we continue to work with interested and qualified teachers in placing them in the most appropriate grade levels, but we are sure that Barbara Hawkins will be teaching the 5/6 class.

Parent/Director Meetings
One thing that will be occurring over the next few weeks if you have registered with us, or will register with us this year, is a 1/2 hour meeting with the directors of SLOCA, Lisa Lewis and Susie Theule. During this time, we will be working with parents in preparation for the school year making sure questions have been answered, helping parents understand further what to expect, and taking time to ask parents questions that will allow the upcoming year to be successful for all involved.  For those families who have already committed for this year, you will soon be receiving an email with dates and times that these meetings will occur.  Please don't stress about this! Meeting ahead of the school year is a common practice for private
schools, and will continue the process of getting to know each other - relationships we will all rely on in the education of our children.

Curriculum Lists, etc.
When a family registers for SLOCA, they receive a complete list of curriculum and required supplies.  We are happy to speak with those still considering the school about our curriculum, but are not offering the complete list until registration occurs.  Why?  We have spent hours working very hard to provide our students with a full, rich, researched curriculum.  While we realize curriculum choice is a definite factor in considering whether or not to register a student, we also realize that we want to protect at some level the investment of the families who have joined and of those who have done the research and planning.  Again, if you have specific questions, we are happy to discuss our curriculum over the phone.

Once a registered family receives the list, they are free to begin their shopping.  We are also working to keep required costs down, and this is reflected in our required curriculum list.  Shopping for home schooling supplies can be time consuming and overwhelming.  To aid you in this process, one of our moms put together a helpful list of online suppliers, which is listed below.  Some materials can be purchased locally (There is a home schooling supply store called The Parable in Paso Robles), which we always support, but many must be special-ordered, and for these, there are plenty of online resources. Here's the list our mom, Missy Grant, came up with (Thanks, Missy!):

1. Timberdoodle Co   www.timberdoodle.com  A good resource with good prices.
2. Amazon  www.amazon.com   A good place to search for all books.  You never know until you look.
3. Love to Learn   www.lovetolearn.net  A good source.  They almost always have stock.
4. Christian Books Distributors    www.Christianbooks.com   They have some of the best prices on the web.
5. Great Home School Books (Sheperds)   www.greathomeschoolbooks.com Good pricing.  Their site is a little confusing at times but they have a wide variety of curriculum.  You need to know what you are looking for, though.
6.  Ebay  www.ebay.com   For those who ebay.
7. Home and School Marketplace  (Christian Curriculum Cellar and Eagle's Nest Educational Supplies)  www.hsmarketplace.com, www.cccellar.com
8.  Beautiful Feet Books   www.BFbooks   They are just starting to distribute their materials through other distributors.  They have great stuff, but you might be able to find their supplemental reading materials cheaper elsewhere.
9. Rainbow Resource Center, Inc.  A southern CA company who handles all the curriculum we need and has free shipping for orders of $150 or more. www.rainbowresource.com

There are many websites to find reading books.  Google a search and it will lead you to good prices.  The best place to learn of a product is to go to its website (ie) saxon, or Bob Jones University Press,Mcgraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin.  You don't have to buy from the distributor but you can read about the resource and price it.

Finally...
Thanks to all who are working to make this school a reality.  For those of you still thinking about the school, we appreciate the difficulty a decision like this can be.  For those of you just now considering the school for your child/ren, there is still time to jump aboard!  And for those of you naturally gifted at sales, please continue to lead people our way!

And as always, if you'd like to be taken off our email list, just let
us know that through an email and we will gladly remove your name!

Until next week,

Susie Theule and Lisa Lewis

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
--William Yeats--

Friday, July 01, 2005

SLOCA Weekly Email Update, 6/29/05

Hi everyone!

SLOCA is definitely moving forward and is becoming a reality! It has been an extremely encouraging week, both with sign ups, planning and feedback, and the short-term future of the school is now on solid ground. In addition, we've had many doors open and many people encourage us towards our long-term goals, giving us every reason to believe that this school will get stronger year after year.

This week we have several short updates and another great feature by Lisa Lewis. Be sure to read it all. Those of you still deciding on next year may find Lisa's article very helpful.

Welcome
We are happy to report that our numbers went up from 9 to 15 this past week, and we couldn't be more delighted with the families that have joined our quest to offer our children a rich, wonderful education. That puts us 5 children away from our goal, and over halfway to our dream of 27 children this first year. We'd like to welcome the Montemurro family, the Allshouse family, the Oberts family, and the Palmquist family. There are two other families that have joined today and we are simply waiting for permission to share their names with you. Thank you to all these families for trusting in the year to come. We are looking forward to educating classically with you!

In addition, we have several others on the cusp of registering and are looking forward to hearing from them!

Registration
The deadline for the $50 registration fee is July 1st - this Friday. If you know you are going to register your child/ren, and can give us a definite "yes" by Friday, the $50 fee will stand. If you need more time to decide or if you are new to even knowing SLOCA exists, that's fine as well, but the registration fee goes up to $75 after July 1st.

Speading the Word
Some of the fun calls or emails we have received have been from people we've never met nor heard of. Thank you to all for spreading the word for us, and keep on doing it! We will accept kids all summer. The earlier the better for planning purposes, but we know that some families may need more time and some may not hear about us until later. The feedback from people about what we're doing has been wonderful. It motivates us to keep on keepin' on!

And Now, our Feature Article of the Week...

It is time to discuss why a partnership in education is beneficial. Many of you who are interested in SLO Classical Academy have been home schooling already. The thought of changing what you are already doing may not appeal to you, but I'd like to highlight the benefits to you of a partnership. As a professional educator I have had countless informal parent conferences over the tomatoes at Von's, on the side lines at baseball practice or waiting in line at a store. These conferences have often been with parents who know me as an educator but I have not been their child's teacher. You might think that odd but it's not really. These parents have wanted advice on homework, how to help reluctant readers or authors, ideas for helping with math, you name it. What they have wanted from me, and every other teacher I know, is support. We all need encouragement and new ideas as we work with our children, whether it is academic or otherwise. This support is a major component of what the SLO Classical Academy will be providing on an ongoing basis. The experience of working with many children and seeing the variety of ways that children learn and grow will be shared with you and your child/ren. You as the parent teacher will have a resource of information to focus on your child's learning experiences to help make the process as rich as possible. The partnership will also provide an additional learning environment for your child to experience with a very small group of students under the guidance and supervision of the mentor teacher. We will mentor your child through the education process and you through the teaching process. Our desire is to provide as much structure as each family
wants while also providing the parameters needed for continuity between home and school. We won't be telling you what to do every day your child is at home unless you want that much structure! We will however be available to you for those kinds of questions that you haven't had someone to ask, like "Am I doing enough?"

I am looking forward to this school year. We have many ideas that we are excited to implement! I hope you will join us in the partnership of education at SLO Classical Academy.

Susie Theule & Lisa Lewis

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
--William Yeats--