As the summer stretches on, instead of the state of California opening up more, I see it hitting pause or reverting closer to the “Safer at Home” mandate. One of the things that helps me get through it all — the thought of online-only classes in fall, more economic downturn and fallout, parents that were excited about their kids going back to school in fall so they could get back to their job — is reflecting on the complexity of this situation and identifying the sources of grief I feel. This post, like my post two weeks ago (Part 1) — is personal in nature, though hopefully it will be helpful to parents. These reflections are my attempts at processing this complicated world we find ourselves in. Two weeks ago, I explored the first question from my mentor — What is lost? Follow this link to see Part 1.
Part 2: What is left?
As I planned for this summer, I was attentive and put an ear out for what was open. I found out that our local aquarium, the Aquarium of the Pacific, is open. Also local beaches, whale watch trips, and many campgrounds are still open. Heck, I still have a bike. The thought of going to the gym is a no-go for me, but I can jog and (to save my knees) – ride my bike.
Digging a little deeper — my family has not gotten Covid. We are in tact and well. When I widen out more, there are a number of my kids friends; we can get together in an outside setting, one-on-one, with masks, etc. Then there are my neighbors — they are still there. Things are more open now than in March, when my youngest son was going to have his birthday party on March 17. (That was a definite no-go!) We are now proficient in how to be distant and wear masks when getting together with others.
Widening out even more, I am fortunate to be able to continue to write. Writing can be done at home. As of this December, I had my second curriculum 80% completed. Then, how about teaching? I can teach online from home. And for fun and self-enrichment — I can continue to paint and work on independent films. Those can be done at home.
Part 3: What is possible?
It is my sense when I check my Instagram feed that many in the homeschooling community, charter schools, vendors, homeschool thinkers, are papering-over the big changes and challenges in process. Maybe they are scared to look at the reality of all that has changed. I get it — it seems there are not a lot of good or easy answers. The situation cannot be readily fixed.
Again, if parents can take these questions one by one, there is a possibility of thriving, even in the midst of loss.
When I answer the question – “What is possible?” this framing gives me an immediate spark of optimism. What IS possible? What positive outcomes can happen? What new prospects are out there, that I have never engaged with? What new disciplines can I can develop, now that I have more have time?
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Author Christine Echeverri, of #californiaoutofthebox and #earthpartycurriculum, explores reflections on her own children and their creative process, as well as her own journey as an author self-publishing her first book in her 40s. . . #peterelbow #writingwithoutteachers #selfpublishing #homeschoolwriting #homeschoolcurriculum
When I think about the question of what is possible with respect to homeschooling, I think of the potential for a positive shift. My kids and I have more time now. Some of the co-ops we have joined will not be meeting live. Given we have that loss – special time with my kids friends, access to great teachers – we can recalibrate by spending the time to work on those areas more independently. I have always wanted to try a more unschool writing program. (See our Organic Learning Channel entry below for reflections on a more informal writing program.) Now we have more time to experiment. With respect to my kids friends, I believe the answer is to get together one-on-one in an outdoor setting. The schools face liability issues if they spearhead meetings. As a parent, I need to spearhead meetings with my kid’s friends. Like homeschooling, I cannot wait on someone else!
Again, we do have options! Campgrounds are open. We went on a camping trip this week and enjoyed being in nature, away from computers, etc. Also, we can go to local natural outdoor places and take trips like whale watching.
Supposedly, the human brain does not grow after age 20. That is false! Growing up, I use to dread playing games; we never played them in my family. Thanks to implementing more games in homeschooling, I have found a value for them. I enjoy putting our minds together around a common set of rules. I am always amazed at how smart my kids are too. They generally beat the pants off me. (See video post below for a game we liked!) Being together, going to outdoor places, playing games – we can still have a good summer!.
I have always needed a lot of time alone. I am introverted and enjoy spending time working on projects. In this last year, I began implementing Painting Mondays. From 4-6, we have no friends in the house. I get out my oil painting supplies, put on my music, and get to work!
Another thing I have continued is writing curriculum. I stayed focused this spring, and after many reminders from my husband to “stay focused,” I finished my second curriculum, Earth Party! I have written it to be an offering that will help homeschool families learn more about life forms from single-celled life through the animal kingdom.
Over 6 years ago, my friends and I shot a short art/independent film, geared for families with children eight years old and above. Each summer I would hack away, editing the movie. This summer was different: I finished our short film. Here is a link to view the trailer.
The Big Picture
When I consider the big picture, I get even more excited! Because, though life is different, what else might I be able to do now that I was not able to do before? When my life was about driving to baseball games, packed weekends, maintaining a ton of friendships, and feeling like I always had three more things to do than I had time for. Now, I do not have that problem. The eagle is grounded! What other projects and pursuits do you want to experiment with?
Parents, how can we help YOU?
Even for parents not naturally drawn to homeschooling, homeschooling families have a ton of resources for schooling at home. As a homeschool parent, I know about resources that can be helpful, different curricula, and public charters vs. private homeschool options (at least for California). (See HSLDA link below for homeschooling in other states.) If you know of a currently homeschooling family, reach out and ask them ALL of your questions. Homeschoolers are generally happy to help! You may also email me at christine [at] carriershellcurriculum [dot] com with more questions.
History and Science Resources We Offer
- Earth Party!, a biology unit study curriculum (grades 1-6)
- California Out of the Box, a California history curriculum (grades 3-6)
- California History Online Class, Tuesdays 2PM (grades 3-6)
- Coffee with Carrie Consulting (Consulting, homeschool how-to, and encouragement for homeschool moms)
- Excellence in Education (Physical store selling new and used homeschool resources in Monrovia. Carolyn and Marty are very knowledgeable about educating in the home.)
- California Homeschool Network (Tons of homeschool how-to resources)
- Homeschool Legal Defense Network (Questions about legal requirements by state for homeschooling)
- Rainbow Resource (They sell a huge variety of homeschool resources)
Other Ways to Help
We are very interested in putting resources together to help families with students in grades 1-6. Even if your child is in a district public school, we would love to help your child’s learning (even if it’s online!) be natural, engaging, and authentic. Please let us know if you are interested in the following:
6-week projects class?
- Projects-based learning (Online, Time TBD)
- Is your student learning certain content where you would like help overseeing them developing a project, either a written or a physical endeavor? We can help. We are interested in being a guide through the process: students will submit a proposal, gather materials, execute the project, making sure to turn in any written work, and showing their project in a fun, group, online meeting.
- In conjunction with parents, during this 6-week class, we will guide your student in helping them to navigate through project steps.
- Email us at christine [at] carriershellcurriculum [dot] com if you are interested in this option.
- Weekly California Out of the Box Office Hours – (Time TBD, FREE)
- If you have purchased our California history curriculum and have questions as you go through it, let us know if you are interested in weekly office hours. We are happy to point to resources and suggest adaptations for your particular students. Also, if you have children in various age groups, we are happy to help you settle on grade-level expectations. Send a message to christine [at] carriershellcurriculum [dot] com to find out more.
What is lost?
What is left?
What is possible?