Recently, I dipped into Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men. I love this book because the school that is run is so different and wonderful. I had to start taking notes on all the great things that are done to teach the boys and the girls so I thought I would share them here with you as we turn into another school year.
Also I worked in my rooms (I teach art in two elementary buildings) on and off last week and this week (erratic because floors were being stripped and waxed) and thought I would share them with you. I don’t have lots of pictures because honestly I had a rough time dealing with my emotions. Taking pictures wasn’t on my mind.
Lastly, I have school-aged kids so I was also getting them ready to go back. This was the funnest part!
Going Back to School
Let me start by saying that I try really hard to keep politics out of this space. I am very conservative and know what it feels like to have keyboard trolls and others assume everyone has their beliefs and belittle and hate those who do not. So, like a lot of conservatives, I have “gone underground,” but I’m still here.
The reason for that was to say that we absolutely need schools open again in our country. I’m willing to compromise and wear a stupid mask all day if that’s what it takes. I’ve done a lot of research and found that schools around the world that have re-opened or stayed open have had little to no cases of Covid. That makes me very happy as my biggest worry is my kids and my students. We all need to get back to work. Our families and country need us! Let’s go!
I started as I try to start every year. With wonder. What can I learn that excites me to get back to school? This year it was finding Childcraft books and reading Little Men by Louisa May Alcott. I already discussed Childcraft here. Little Men turned out to be a most interesting book and I gleened a lot of wisdom from it’s pages and the wonderful school they made from Plumfield.
-Educations were tailored to the children. Teachers do try to do this, but we only have a child for one year. This was long-term planning, with a focus on morals and work ethic. Jo observed and wrote in a journal about each child in her school. She took one day out of the week to sit quietly and do this. She also discussed the children’s sins with them and tried to help them be better by giving them constructive ways to handle their spirits. Jo was always, always looking out for things her boys (and two girls) were liking, showing aptitude with or interest in. They were encouraged to put their energies into it. She then came up with plans for them to pursue these things, hoping they would find their life’s work. Sometimes it was hard for her to match a child with something.
-Everyone lived at the school and it ran like a very large household. Many of the children were orphans or runaways, so this was the only family they had. Everyone had chores to do and were expected to do them, I’ve said this before on here- everyone helps run the ship!
-Each child had a pet to care for (kept in a barn and farmyard) and a patch of garden to tend. This teaches responsibility fast! The children did their chores together at the same times of the day so the expectations were clear.
-The children were taught the love of God’s creation by making their own natural history museum and studying nature.
-Boys are taught school and then “Boy things.” Girls are taught school and then “Girl things.” Differences in the sexes are celebrated and understood. Both were taught to be loving in their own ways- boys to be chivalrous, girls to be caring.
-They have useful play and call learning to do new things “a new kind of play.” Oh, how I wish we would associate school more with play and figure out ways to learn that are playing for that is the natural form of learning for children (and adults!).
-They learn to do grown-up things “by my ownty-downty self!”
-The one girl in the school (later they get another one as it is primarily a boy’s school) has a play kitchen with a real stove, china, pans, brushes, apron, washing tubs, etc. This reminds me a lot of Montessori and I thought it was really neat. She cooked real food and took a lot of pride in learning.
-The boys and girls have a “cosy club” that is used when it is raining. They play games and have snacks, listen to music, etc.
-Saturday night the boys get a pillow fight before bed. They earn it by going to bed during the week without fuss.
-Sunday is meant to love and nourish the spirit. Activities like reading, art, architectural blocks, etc. are encouraged. Special materials are kept for this day in one of Jo’s closets.
My rooms came together very quickly this year. I de-cluttered a LOT. I took a lot of wall decor down and shelf decor so my rooms could be sanitized easier. I tried to social-distance my student chairs at the tables as much as possible. I have no idea how many students will be physically there. At this point my district says enrollment in virtual school in 40% of our whole. It seems like things are changing every hour and no one knows what it going on. We have had many teachers retire recently so I don’t even know if I will be actually teaching art! I’m just so thankful to have a job- I don’t care.
Being in my rooms was hard. I am still trying to process all the feelings I had. It was like a small trauma that I was away for so long. I’ve been seeing my students in Wal-mart and I realize I miss them all so much. I’ve had anxiety dreams about school all summer. I go back tomorrow (Friday 8-14-20) for in-service, maybe then I’ll know what is going on, but I doubt it! Ha!
One thing I did really enjoy, and always do, is getting my kids and myself ready to go back to school. My favorite part of Harry Potter is when he goes school shopping, and getting school supplies was my favorite thing to do for school as a kid ( I hated getting clothes though!).
I took a day for each child and did a date day with them. We discussed their budget, their needs and then we went to our outlet mall and to stores in the big city and went out to eat. My kids loved their date day! I even had fun and got some new clothes too!
Other than that I’m trying to take good care of myself and write! I love writing and illustrating my writing! I have two books in the works right now! Yay!
Talk to you soon friends! Let me know how things are going for you at the start of your school years even if you are homeschooling or virtual schooling!
From Kansas Street with Love,