first day of school

Do you know who M.C. Escher is? I’m pretty sure you do, even if you don’t know it. He is my favorite artist and was the focal point for our first day of school. Before I explain the actual activity that we did, I would like to explain what school is going to look like this year. And be warned. The following is way more words than I usually spew out, so feel free to skip to pictures if you aren’t in the mood for educational philosophizing.

My son could handle an in-depth unit on the Italian Renaissance, complete with replicating pieces of art and memorizing the line of Papal succession of the  1400’s. He could do it and I am good enough to make it fun and accessible. BUT. He is six. Mostly what he needs right now is to be given glimpses into the world to pique his curiosity. A taste, so that later when he is ready and wanting the Italian Renaissance he can approach it like an old friend instead of an intimidating professor. He could easily memorize the multiplication tables and start into long division, but why? Why not let him be six? Now this isn’t to say we won’t do anything but lounge about in jammies and play Legos and read Dr. Seuss (although that would be an awesome day). Here is what we will be doing. We will be following the educational philosophy or methodology called Thomas Jefferson Education (TJed) or Leadership Education. I won’t try to sum that up, but one things it says is that my little man and for sure my little girls are in a phase of development that dictates they should learn to work and learn to play. The curriculum is learning true and false, right and wrong, good and bad. It is a time to develop strong family bonds and a love of our family’s central canon, namely the Bible and Book of Mormon. Anything else is frosting. But you do know that I love me some frosting. Enter M.C. Escher.

Everyday will be like this…wake up, eat, dress, then work. He has daily stewardships that he is responsible for and part of that is helping me with what ever work I have to get done. Naomi has her jobs as well (she gets very upset when the cats are not duly grateful and ecstatic when she feeds them). Then we do school: opening song, opening prayer, pledge of alligance, memorizing scriptures and a poem, then “Mine.” Mine is whatever I decide to teach them. This week we are doing Escher and tessellations, listening to traditional Japanese music (Kokyu and Taiko Drums) because I found an old CD that I love, going to a student art gallery, and Lego class. Random? Scattered? Yes. Absolutely. But it will be joyful and allow them to focus on what they actually need right now, with a spoonful of frosting thrown in. Evenings are going to be when we spend time in our core books and I’ll read to them a ton throughout the day. Not to mention playing outside with goaties and chickens.

Probably the most important part of school this year has nothing to do with my kids. It’s about me. I will be pursuing a pretty intense reading list (starting Plato’s Republic, moving through Aristotle, Plutarch, Shakespeare, Locke, Swift, Gibbon, and Marx…yeah I might die), plus my book club, piano lessons, an illustration project, teaching a class for 2-6 year olds once a week, a few online classes on education, and farm-ness (not trying to brag…After typing that, I think I really will die this year). How could I expect them to care about great literature if I don’t read it? why would they work if I’m not willing to? why would they practice piano if I won’t?

Sorry for the long explanation. Can you tell I’ve been thinking about this a lot? Anyways. Today we made tessellations. This site has wonderful instructions and it can be in-depth and technical as you want it to be. Or not. At all.



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