Classrooms are finally starting to get the school year rhythm down. Peeking inside a classroom you’ll see kids sitting at desks and teachers standing up front explaining the lessons. As teachers figure out the keys to help their new students learn best, students learn the keys to their classroom success. They learn how to navigate their school schedule and how to interact with their peers. Even the littlest ones at Adventure Academy are transitioning into the routines and making friends. Our “Friends and Feelings” curriculum from Mother Goose Time is helping. This week was “Keys to Friendship” and while the littles were introduced to new concepts the older students were observed practicing social skills. From “including everyone” (which is a song that gets stuck in your head!) to sharing and caring, and learning to apologize and learning to work together … it was a great week for social skill building, but also for self awareness.
The lessons helped vocabularies grow to what makes a good friend and what behaviors affect friendships negatively. The lessons offered opportunity for children to vocalize their feelings, and instead of just running off upset they were able to say why they were upset and learn to resolve conflict. I can think of some adults who still could use such lessons! No matter the age the lessons are relevant and the older students felt empowered to model best behaviors for their little friends. That’s one of the best things about multi-age programming. Yes it can backfire when older students model negative behaviors, but fingers crossed – so far we have some great roll models here!
Being a roll model means you lead the “Friendship Train,” but it also means you encourage the little ones to lead at times as well. Being a roll model helps you define yourself and who you want to be. Being a roll model means helping others define who they want to be by encouraging their interests and assisting with their needs. How do you know another’s interest or needs? Watch their behaviors, and their expressions. Learning about expressions and emotions has continued this week with watching how others react to their surroundings and how they interact with others. If they seem upset did you do something wrong? Do you need to say sorry? How do you show you are actually sorry? What’s the difference between an accident, being mean and being a bully? These are sadly all lessons we need to learn.
We also need to learn how to cooperate and work together to solve issues such as bullies. Learning to work together starts with how your family works as a team at home. When one is taught we don’t do chores for the allowance, but because it’s our responsibility, we learn to respect the others in our home. Respect and responsibility are the two most important lessons at Adventure Academy. I don’t care what students grow up to be, as long as they grow up to be responsible for themselves and respectful to others. Even the youngest child can learn these two life skills, but more by modeling than through taught lessons. Modeling how we talk to and treat others in our homes teaches them how to talk to and treat others when they are at school and when they are grown contributors in future communities.
I have been asked how my boys practice being respectful to others since they aren’t at school and are homeschooled. That question made me laugh as when they were in school one was picking up undesired behaviors and the other was only learning how to be victimized and adapt to being bullied. Sadly playgrounds are not filled with roll models teaching bullies to be kind and mentors helping children handle conflict. Yes they need to learn to handle conflict – I’m not saying bubble wrap your kids – but as preschoolers and kindergarten students they shouldn’t be afraid of their peers. They shouldn’t hate school – as early education is supposta be the fun years to learn to love education and learn to trust those you interact with. The socializing issue wasn’t why we took them out of school though, in fact that’s why we wanted to keep them in hoping they would adapt and learn skills that were delayed. My boys are on the “autism spectrum” so learning those social skills were a bit complicated. Sadly the term “autism spectrum” is often misunderstood and people think they don’t want friends – they do – they often have just learned how to adapt by being alone. For us homeschooling has made it so they don’t have to be alone and so they can learn such skills through smaller groups they are excited to participate in.
Like many other homeschool kids, ours love their sports programs, homeschool co ops, church groups and random playdates … they are not homeschooled, they are life schooled as they are learning to interact in more diverse settings and with all age groups. They are learning more social skills then they would at school (while strengthening their basic skills through diverse curriculum options, including Mother Goose Time * as photographed above). They are learning more lifetime skills than they did at school. They are learning how to respect others and themselves – they are learning to find themselves, their interest, their own needs and work towards their goals. They are proud of themselves as mentors helping little ones and love following the lead of older ones they feel are their mentors. They are learning to be responsible and give back by being around positive roll models and learning consequences from negative roll models by simple observation of life. Life is not only same age peers sitting at desks listening to a lecture. Although that method works for transitioning into life for many students, not all students learn life skills that way. I’m glad there are so many options for educating todays youth and I’m glad we have the option to homeschool. We might not homeschool forever as we don’t know where life leads us tomorrow, much less years down the road, but for now we consider it a blessing. If they do re join the traditional school path their social awkwardness can’t be blamed on homeschooling, because in fact being in special ed programs and even being pulled out of the general ed classroom for services was making them more socially awkward. Letting them be their socially awkward selves in an environment where they are comfortable working on other skills has been the best way to help them grow into the confident boys they are today. They know who they are and who they want to be. They have goals and these goals include becoming responsible and respectful members of our future community.
Even through the friends and feelings theme will be ending next week, our lessons of friendship and emotions will never end. Lessons of responsibility and respect will never end at Adventure Academy. If these are character builders you’d like your children to learn consider enrolling them in our program. To learn more about ADVENTURE ACADEMY click here. To learn more about MOTHER GOOSE TIME click here. Students also have the opportunity to learn from Creative Curriculum, Little Lincoln, Right Start Math, Math U See, Spelling U See, All about Reading, Explode the Code, Road to the Code, Hooked on Phonics, Handwriting without tears, Homework without tears and many other great hands on programs – including simply learning through play during “toy time” in our “imagination station,” and exploring the other areas in our one – room school – house. We have part time and full time openings. Adventure Academy is a program offered through Mi Families for our youngest family members. We offer other youth programs, parent workshops and provider trainings as well. Check out our WEBSITE, Friend us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, Subscribe to our YouTube channel, learn more about me on my LinkedIN page … We’re building connections to “Reach out with Resources” for all families and those who work with families. Seeking specific resources – feel free to email me at Christi@MiFamilies.com and feel free to comment below about other topics you’d like our articles to include – oh and don’t forget to subscribe above for future articles. Thanks for reading this one!!!!