Once upon a time there was a dancer girl with long blond hair. This girl danced all evening, every evening. Missing dance was like losing a day of her life. When she got off the bus that Monday so tired, headed straight for the bottom bunk of her pink room, I figured she was just sick. No dance.
Tuesday came and she was alert and at 100%, so she got on the bus and I sent her back to school for day two of annual testing. The bus brought me another lethargic Krystal that afternoon as well. This went on all week until she was nauseous from screen time and anxiety. Her teacher told her to put her head down since her eyes couldn’t see the computer screen. Rest them. We’ll all wait. She could feel everyone’s eyes on the back of her head so she persevered.
I couldn’t make it stop and next year require even more hours of standardized testing. I’m sure the internet is full of stories from other parents of kids with convergence insufficiency. She would learn to manage it, it wasn’t serious. But for now massive testing would make her sick and miss dance. The government mandated testing to be on PC’s in Virginia. So we had no choice.
We began homeschooling in 5th grade. Only Krystal. But….
Mercy saw what we were doing at Jamestown. At Grace Academy. At the library. At the donut shop. School had become our life, not the thing we outsourced, and she was, for the first time, feeling left out – of her OWN family. Logan was at home already since he was a preschooler, and her dad telecommuted from home for Microsoft. I would literally put her on a bus in the morning and the four of us would be home all day together. Yes, we did go out for school, but it was more sporadic than full time, like Mercy did at public school. So, for Krystal’s sixth grade year her fourth grade sister would join her.
We didn’t stop there with the big changes. One we realized there was nothing tethering us down (school or jobs), we did something even crazier than homeschooling. We bought a log cabin in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Krystal wanted to try ballet. So she went to Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Within a year she would be on full scholarship and having the time of her life. (that was short-lived, but you’ll have to keep reading this series to hear more about where that goes)
Once we were in Pennsylvania I had to find us a new co-op for school. Enter Classical Conversations. CC may have been the single most influential organization in Krystal’s life. It suited her perfectly! She made friends on three different campuses in Central Pennsylvania over the years. I even found my Mama Tribe!
CC is Classical education at it’s best. For fourth through sixth graders, both Krystal and Mercy, the morning would be memory work in seven subjects. Essentials filled the afternoon with grammar charts, diagramming, and writing many papers.
From the CC website:
“Memorization Fun, FOUNDATIONS is a grammar-stage program for children age twelve and under and their parents.
Parents and tutors use the Foundations Curriculum, which outlines a comprehensive core of grammar for history, science, English, Latin, geography, and math. Students will encounter these facts again later in the Challenge programs. The Foundations Curriculum clearly leads parents through a classical education at home, week by week.
In addition to the memory work, students also participate weekly in public speaking, science projects or experiments, and either an art or music activity, building a firm foundation for a rich education.”
What is ESSENTIALS?
Over the year Krystal did many other school activities outside of CC including NANO, volunteering with Audubon Society, dance, Memory Master, and library day. She was truly living her education!
One thing I need to mention though is her math journey that began in public school, and by 5th grade at home I tested her into 3rd grade math when we did the placement test for Singapore Math. She struggled with looking at that big “3” at the top of her book first semester, but quickly finished it and we did 4th grade math second semester of 5th grade. That felt better, but she still felt badly to be behind in a core subject like math. Plus, we wouldn’t have known that she was falling behind if she hadn’t come home so we were struggling with the feeling that we waited too long to start homeschooling.
Krystal’s math journey does have a happy ending, so I hope you’ll follow along as I post her adventures through the homeschool years one post at a time.