TSH Observations - 2020 May 4th
Week Beginning May 4th, 2020: From Founder & Principal Mimosa Jones Tunney
Hello TSH Parents:
It was a true joy to see so many of you at Friday’s Wink & Wave - I really enjoyed stopping traffic in the name of our kiddos! There was so much love, kindness and spirit swirling around us, it made me feel that there is nothing we can’t accomplish when we work as one towards a common cause. Our common cause on Friday was seeing each other, connecting in the only way we know how right now. But our larger common cause is changing education… reinventing what school can and should be… and no virus is going to change that mission. Check out these movers and shakers:
Yes, we are out for the rest of the year. And while that makes life difficult for now… we are winning the bigger battle of giving our children the best possible environment for them to learn and grow as human beings. I’ve had the chance to speak to many of you and observe how you are pursuing Home Learning. Again, if you’re doing fine… skip down to more photos and the Parent Tip! If you’d like more, visit our new Home Learning page www.theschoolhouse.org/homelearning. About 85% of our families prefer not to use screens (with the exception of research and film); about 30% of our families have both parents working from home; many are essential workers and must leave their home. What this means is there are a lot of different conditions happening all at once!
Learning at Home:
If you visit our website www.theschoolhouse.org/homelearning (check back every weekend) you’ll be able to build your own Home Learning Program. We do this because we are a school of individual learners. No two children are alike and therefore no two learning plans are alike. This takes more work on the part of our Educators and Team… and likely more work on your part, but I promise… the more you set up your system, the more independent your Learner will become in the coming weeks (if they’re not already!) and that’s our aim at TSH. The other day, I was tied up and the boys taught themselves for 2.5 hours. You can do it!
1. First, choose one of three styles based on your child and your availability. This may change for you along the way (or not be relevant at all), but here are three good general options:
Working closely with your Educator several times a week you follow the DLP. These DLPs keep track of how we would traditionally have introduced materials and ideas and worked within the classroom. Since we don’t have the benefit of materials at home, you’ll use those provided by your Educator. You can set your child up for a Provocation in the morning (see below), start a Morning Work Cycle with a work plan, followed by a Specialist and ending with Mindfulness (see below). This seems to work better for girls than boys.
Working with a theme you are guiding your child through a time-period, interest or passion. I used an example with one parent this week regarding her son’s love for basketball. Because her son was reticent to do the “paper” part, I suggested they delve into basketball. Working together they could:
Research his favorite players. As a first grader, he could write a few lines about this player every day. Draw these players. Find out their stats. How are stats created?
What is the history of basketball? What else was going on at that time when Naismith invented it? What is the diameter of the basketball? Why is it that big? How high has the best basketball player jumped, thrown a free throw?
If you take a look at the above, many of the standards have been covered: writing non-fiction, measurement, addition, subtraction (even division), research, history. You can check your child’s work for things like punctuation, grammar. In the basketball case, get a poster board and put each player up as you research it and create a dream team!
Almost anything in your DLP can be aligned with your child's passion. In our home, we have adopted this process. I read the DLPs over the weekend, so I have an idea of what our Educator would be covering, but I don’t use the paper included. We make our own books, math problems etc. based on what we’re learning. This past week was a continuation of math.
We decided to make an Alex Calder piece (because he was born during the Industrial Revolution which we are still pursuing!) that involved balance and measurement.
We built a set of shelves which involved almost everything! Designing an original piece, drawing a plan (in this case we had no brackets), measurement, sanding, painting, leveling, constructing with glue and screws and installation.
Finally, we planted which was a lot of math - days, inches, etc. but also research on the plants themselves. We also embedded our watermelon seeds in an old dump truck for awesome repurposing!
Screen-time is usually less so you may choose not to do Specialist time with Inquiry-Based, but maybe you spring for Provocations and Mindfulness along the way.
I’M GOOD PROGRAM:
You aren’t doing a formal “program” but enjoying watching your child play, discover, read, write, explore nature and cook. You are happy teaching your child life skills, home making, building and building fine and gross motor skills. You are talking to them about the world, the crisis, your favorite memories. You don’t need independent time from your children and when you do, they seem to just ebb and flow with the day.
2. For the first two styles, they are easiest if you set up. Spend one hour a weekend planning your week ahead especially if you working from home and not readily available from 9-12 noon. If you are doing our more formal program, collect the information from your DLP and schedule your times with your Educator and Specialists. Print out and have ready all materials in their binders and/or baskets. If you are doing any creative projects from our Activities List online, prepare the materials ahead of time (by the way, most of our Educators spend the majority of their time in preparation, not the actual doing!) A few weeks ago I had a work-filled weekend and I neglected to prepare my week ahead. It was a total disaster. I spent most of my time trying to catch up to them and felt woefully behind which increased my stress level significantly.
3. Use our additions if you’d like. We've added Provocations and Mindfulness to our website at Educator Provocations and TSH Mindfulness - Compassion friendly wishes meditation. You can now structure your day to begin and end with this! We have sectioned out the Provocation days, so click on each day when you start your morning!
4. Make certain to be mindful of the following:
— Introduce topics with love, enthusiasm and QUESTIONS! Why is it so light out when you go to bed now? Why is some grass light green and other grass darker? Why do the birds sing mostly in the morning? Almost anything can be turned into a writing or math practice. Science is everywhere and history is too.
— Print out research over the weekend or night before to mitigate time online. You can create a library of printed research.
— Have backup! Multiple activities in your back-pocket will make sure you can still get your work done!
— Don’t ever force a piece of paper or a topic. It’s the fastest way to tune them out! They can smell this like a dog smells fear. You can always re-introduce it later. Find the academics in what interests them. If you’re having a difficult time with this, call your Educator. They are happy to help you at any time.
— Breathe. They are NOT behind. The whole world is quarantined right now academically. They are AHEAD in many more areas including sibling connection, independence, home care, innovative learning and time with you.
5. Observe your child. This is the most fun part! What are they wanting to learn, need more of or struggling with? Just observe them for a week or even a few days and don’t intervene. Once you have that information, connect with your Educator and they can work with you to help fill these gaps. We’ll never get this kind of observation time again!
Two words: PAINTERS TAPE. Painters Tape can be used to measure on your floor anything and everything. When Duke was doing a research project on rabbits, he discovered their ears can grow up to 2 feet. We measured that with painters tape and whoa(!) big ears. This lead to an hour of research on how big things can get and what those sizes look like in real life!
Check out this letter from Dr. Michael Hynes. We’re with (ahead of) you Michael! https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2020/04/after-pandemic-our-children-deserve.html?m=1
Enjoy the weather and stay safe! Remember to send us your photos, Learner-Led Lessons (video) and ideas that are working for you!
And we’ll update you on TSH Camps once we have guidelines from NYS.