Today was the first day of co-op for the spring semester. This is a secular weekly co-op held in a local Unitarian church, with extremely high quality classes. It has two semesters a year, and this is our fourth semester. Our routine is that I read Boy and Girl the class descriptions at the beginning of the registration period, and they pick what they want to take (if anything). So, while to some extent these are ‘traditional’ classes, their participation in them is not coerced, but voluntary. They have complete control over what classes they participate in. And I cannot overstate how much the kids love their classes.
Girl is in the morning Play and Learn program with all of the kids her age, and then she has a “Hands On Science” class after lunch. A class in which she will be wearing a smock and safety glasses on a regular basis. She told me that today she learned about carbon dioxide. She said carbon dioxide a number of times, and that to me says it was a successful day!
I’ll be helping Girl’s teacher in the Play and Learn class this semester, though today I was downstairs helping with first-day goings on, helping returning and new families get their folders and information cards straight, helping make sure all the teachers got paid. But I know that Girl had a nice day in class. She made a family portrait and did a thumbprint numbers page. She made a couple of mistakes, but did her page completely independently, when a lot of the kids needed some assistance.
Boy has a very full day with four classes. In the morning he has a parent-taught Biographies class, in which every mom of a student in the class teaches two classes. I’ll be doing Harriet Tubman and Alexander Graham Bell. This morning his friend’s mom talked to them about Pocahontas, and they made clay pots. Boy’s is beautiful. He did great, his teachers said, except for briefly crying about writing a letter of his name wrong on the cover of his sketch pad. (He briefly cried about something in 3 out of 4 classes today, though everyone is very kind and understanding to him about it.) He also drew a picture of the Jamestown Fort and the English ships that Pocahontas was kidnapped and taken to.
Second period Boy has a forensics science class given by an outside instructor, in which the kids investigate crime scene mysteries. As far as I know that went just fine, and he said he loved it. At lunch he ate with a tableful of boys and then they all went outside and ran around in the freezing cold for a while.
After lunch he has a Fables class, in which they hear a story, then do various activities like skits, and some kind of art project. Today they were meant to make a picture using only shading (with the side of a crayon) and no outlines. Boy accidentally made a line, and cried, but the teacher and assistant got him calmed down pretty quickly. Here is his bear, being attacked by bees. It’s lovely. (The general consensus seems to be that Boy is pretty hard on himself, but otherwise a great student.) One of the moms took a very cute video of the kids acting out the Bear and the Bees, and I could see how much fun Boy was having.
At the end of the day Boy has the Daring and Dangerous Club for Boys, which is probably not all that daring, and definitely not dangerous, but mostly meant to engender confidence and build up their relationships. Today they went outside and played games, and Boy mostly had a great time, but cried when they formed relay teams and he was left out of the group he wanted to be in. Of course, my first thought was, how did that make the kids feel that he was supposed to be with, that he was crying about being on their team?? But of course he didn’t mean it that way, just as I’m sure his friends didn’t mean to exclude him.
One more note about today: I got permission to share Boy’s bird pictures! He said he wasn’t embarrassed about it, now that we explained it to him. That of course, he said, it’s silly to think that girls could own birds, and lots of men have been interested in birds and drawn them. I can’t find his osprey carrying a fish picture (it’s possible he crumpled it up when he was upset about things not being perfect) but here we have yellow-bellied sapsucker drilling holes in the pecan tree with a squirrel, and another bird that he drew trying to figure out what wings look like.