Last Monday was back-to-school week for my family, and our week started out with our first day at Artios Academies, a once-a-week integrated academic and arts program for homeschoolers that we’re participating in along with 20 other homeschooling families in our area.
Artios Academies is not a co-op by definition, because the classes are taught by paid teachers (I’m teaching two subjects), however it’s not just an “enrichment” program either: Artios classes encompass most of our core subjects, and the in-class day includes five classes — history, grammar/literature/composition, music, theater and art — that are centered around the same historical time period. The curriculum we use in class will also extend into the rest of our week working together at home.
Ever since I met Artios Founder Lori Lane (she spoke to our homeschool support group in early 2014), I wanted our family to be a part of Artios. I really connected with many of the discoveries she made in her homeschooling journey and the whole-hearted educational approach that led her to start Artios, first for her own three boys, back in the 1980s. Lori was influenced and inspired by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s “For the Children’s Sake” and later by Ruth Beechick in the development of her family’s interconnected homeschooling approach, which uses history as a “spine” for teaching all subjects in an associative, integrative manner — with a Biblical foundation. Personally, we had also settled on an integrated approach in our homeschooling (previously using Trail Guide to Learning) for exactly this reason. (See my previous post on whole-hearted homeschooling and how it relates to the founding of Artios Academies.)
This year, the opportunity to join Artios came to us: A new campus was starting up right here in our town of Castle Rock. I couldn’t wait to join and help with the launch team. During the planning process, I decided to help out on the teaching staff, and as God brought more of the puzzle pieces together, I ended up deciding to teach History and Literature for the middle school and high school students in the program.
As I mentioned, last Monday was our first day of Artios and also our first week back to school for the new homeschool year. This year, I’m teaching Elementary through High School (yikes!) at home: My daughters are now in 3rd, 7th and 9th grades! I was both excited for the girls to enjoy their first day, and a little nervous about doing my part to make it a great first day for all of the students that would be in my classes. Along with the five core classes offered by the Artios Core program, my high schooler is taking an optional science lab track with Apologia Biology.
It was hard getting up and out the door early after a very relaxing last month of summer break, however the girls were all smiles and energized by the time we arrived. Classes ran very smoothly for a first day at a new location, with many families participating in the program for the first time. The girls enjoyed getting to work with some new teachers and friends, and I managed to get over my first-day jitters and enjoy the four classes I taught.
Because of the holiday weekend, we won’t be back to Artios until next Monday. However, the momentum we built that day carried through during the rest of our homeschool week last week. The girls dove in to the reading, writing and projects launched in Monday’s classes even though they have plenty of time to finish their assignments this week.
Along with the Artios Core program and Artios Home Companion Series curriculum that we’ll be using at home the rest of the week, we will continue to use Math-U-See for math (because it’s been very effective for my girls) and Apologia Science for my 3rd and 7th grader. This semester we’re planning to do a very small science co-op with just one other family using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics.
Are you back to school in your homeschool or still in preparation mode? What are your curriculum plans? How does teaching and learning styles affect your curriculum choices? Will you be participating in any homeschool co-ops or enrichment programs? We’d love to hear what you’re working on for this homeschool year.