Finding Your Flow - SLO Classical Academy
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San Luis Obispo Classical Academy San Luis Obispo Classical Academy

Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

Semper discentes—always learning together.
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Finding Your Flow

Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow”

Happy Friday and congratulations on the end of the first full week of the school year! Today I (Wei) was reflecting on when we first got introduced to SLOCA seven years ago and our family was tossing around the idea of doing this ‘classical hybrid education’ thing. My very first question at a sneak peek was about the grids – how do they work, what do they look like, how does the home part work with the in-school part? (You can tell that my husband and I are from a long line of teachers). I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of integration and overlap that happens in the classroom as well as at home. Almost like university, where you have lectures, then tutorials in small groups, SLOCA combined a classroom teaching curriculum with an integrated one-on-one component. 

My glorious feelings fell apart when the reality of what the at-home component really looked like, with one child working through the grid and another toddler running around smearing playdough everywhere. Then in later years with two children falling on the floor saying ‘not spelling again!’ or hiding outside, or one conveniently quietly slipping away to ‘play’ while the other sibling is busy working or even checking off the grid without actually completing the work. All that to say is there is a beautiful flow that eventually happens with the at home days or evenings. Intention and planning helps, and being flexible helps. In thinking about this post, there was a teacher, (among many others) Mrs Wallace, who would send home beautifully written emails with her grids that helped me with the flow of my home days. Words of encouragement, and also practical ways of structuring our days to make the most of the precious time with our kids. I had saved some for later, and I guess now is the later! With her permission, these are a few excerpts of her wisdom. 

By now we/you should be settling in with routines on home days and at-school days. I encourage you to have your child rise each morning at the same time, have breakfast together, and get started on school work, whether at-school or at home. Routines not only help build solid habits but they also give the students a sense of security as they know what to expect. However, I do encourage you to add a bit of fun to your home days. Try reading together outdoors under the shade of a large tree. Consider working on that recitation on the trampoline or while jumping rope. If there is a particular subject that your child resists, consider offering incentives such as a bowl of blueberries or a quick walk with the dog when the work is complete. These changes don’t take much time, but they can make a big difference for these young students!

I encourage you to take your children outdoors each day, even if only for a quick walk around the block. I remember taking daily breaks in our homeschooling mornings to stroll around the neighborhood in search of familiar plants and animals. I would challenge my boys to find things such as 10 acorns, new bulb shoots breaking through the mud, Mr Taylor’s fuzzy brown cat, the remains of apples dangling from Mary’s fruit orchard, a squirrel scurrying up an oak tree, etc. The kids loved the challenge, they gradually gained an appreciation for the beauty of nature, and it helped give us the energy needed to complete the lessons that awaited us at home. Even today my boys will point out the blooming poppies or the bright pink Naked Ladies as they chuckle with the memory of learning the silly name of that plant. Oh, the memories we cherish. 

Most Fridays I watch two of my precious grandbabies from breakfast to bedtime. Normally we play, stack, read, giggle, and romp around the yard. But today we are dealing with some heavy family issues, so I am not truly present for these two babies/toddlers today. And they feel it. Trying to do laundry or return a phone call is met with frustrated baby tears. And I am reminded of the heavy weight you are carrying. Many of you are homeschooling on top of parenting, nursing babies, working inside or outside the home, paying bills, and competing with the pinterest-perfect home/meal/outing.  I feel you today. You have chosen to take on the role of teacher in addition to parenting your children. While your days may be filled with snuggles on the couch while reading quality literature, I also realize there may be push-back on those lessons, or the dog dug out of the yard again, or there are fevers raging, babies crying, and math pages yet to complete. Take heart. We all have good days and rough days. And our children learn patience and compassion. They learn that they are not the center of the universe. They learn that sometimes plans have to change, and they learn to be flexible. I invite you to give yourself grace today. Breathe. Take a minute for yourself. And give yourself grace. Tomorrow is a new day.

I will end with a quote from The Core: 

Home-centered education is natural education, which means that, naturally, nothing will go quite as planned. The spontaneity of life with children can oftentimes seem fruitless, and there’s never a paycheck to help soften the harder days. The rewards come in small moments of progress and success shared as a family.

If I could add anything from my handful of years homeschooling, I would add—talk to other home educators! It is nice after the last couple of years to be able to walk the halls again and see familiar faces and meet new ones. My personal favorite is to talk to families with multiple children, and older kids than yours! For example, it took me years and many overwhelmed moments to find out that reading the history and literature the night before is so helpful. Reading the HIG before you sit down to Math is highly recommended too. And lastly, reading the grids, because many of these teachers have traveled down this road before you (and survived!) and have a wealth of knowledge that comes from a community forged by over 17 years of excellence.  

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