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Mini-Schools: The Tuesday School
a model mini-school expanded homeschool program
© Ann Lahrson Fisher
Students who attend a mini-school benefit from spending time with other adults. They may learn things that their parents can't teach them. They are exposed to rules and values that differ from their own. They meet other children. They learn to participate in a group. Parents enjoy several advantages when their children participate in a
Teacher/sponsors of mini-schools generate income. If their own children participate, the family benefits twice. Teachers with a passion for a field can share that passion with others. Other teachers, who thrive in the presence, noise, and activity of young children, or among angst-driven teens, can develop successful general enrichment
I set the age range at six through twelve, with a limit of nine students. We met during the nine months of the traditional school year. Fees were paid at the beginning of the month and covered most supplies and a snack.
Tuesday School met once a week, from 10 AM until 3:30 PM. Parents were free to stay or go. Our days may have looked like an alternative or free school. The core curriculum was the milieu of our home. Much of the house and resources were accessible to the students. In short, we were a homeschooling family with interests. The students came to sample our lives and to share their lives with us and each other. Our day began with sharing time, important for students who had not seen one another all week. Next we planned the daily schedule all the nitty gritty details of learning together. Art or craft activities, read-aloud time, recorder playing lessons, games, and open-ended math and science explorations were typical. Free play and individual projects were always an option, and often chosen by the younger children. Some students scheduled and taught lessons of their own in math or piano. Some of the study groups continued all year. The end of the day brought another group sharing time, problem solving, discussion and planning for future activities. Parents often stayed to visit at the end of the day until our family schedule squeezed them out the door.
Classes are limited to six students. Family-sized classes maintain a homeschool type of environment and allow for greater individualization. Fees, paid monthly, cover instruction, a snack, and high quality art materials.
Younger student, age six to nine, meet for three hours once a week. Classes for younger artists focus more on imagination, creativity, and exploring a variety of media. Older beginners, age ten to teens, meet for four hours each week. These students begin each class with direct instruction, usually in drawing. Each day includes fine arts activities as well as crafts. Advanced students, age twelve to teens, meet for a
Sue's scheduling methods fly in the face of popular opinion. Homeschooled students are noted for having amazingly long attention spans in their areas of interest. Taking advantage of that ability to focus, Sue offers classes that range from three hours for younger students to five and one half hours for a class of advanced teens. This model has proven resoundingly successful, as evidenced by full classes, a lack of behaviour management problems, a high rate of returning students each year. The end of the day is invariably met with groans of, " But I'm not finished yet!"
Sponsors have the freedom to create the program they want out of their passion and commitment to the needs of homeschooling families. Like Learning Clubs, mini-schools can be developed in a multitude of directions. I look forward to the day that unique mini-schools are organized by passionate and knowledgeable experts, offer every imaginable topic from alphabets to zeppelins, and can be found in every neighbourhood.
Ann Lahrson-Fisher is the author of Fundamentals of Homeschooling: Notes on Successful Family Living, published by Nettlepatch Press. This is the best book on getting started and continuing with homeschooling that Beverley Paine has ever read!
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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