Transmuting the school system, to support everyone!
This evolving article (even the title) is intended to support you to see many possible options when it comes to transmuting the school system...
This article may seem choppy, it's the best I can do with kids that need me. I hope you find something supportive for your family in this article... FYI- in a couple months our kids will be 9yrs, 6yrs, and 2yrs old.
Charting our own path, when it comes to education, is not something new for our family! Our son unschooled himself half way through SK and has been in and out ever since, and our daughter unschooled herself two months into JK!
The school system is in for a HUGE overhaul! Especially now that we see the levels to which staff are willing to go to mistreat children: "just following orders, they say".
To be honest, I think the corona virus is here to push these kinds of agendas forward. The kids have been suffering for too long, and we have not been listening. Well, now it hurts, and we need to listen.
This article will evolve as we learn more, and as people send me more information to share. The intent is to show you many doors and options that are open to you, so you do not feel so alone. While I continue to try to keep in mind that there are many people who like the school system, just the way it is/was, and maybe it is ok to have many arms to a new way of doing school, including one that doesn't change. No need for us to resist each other, lets just open all the doors!
The photo above is a cube our son made to guide us when we are looking for something to do, below is a list for you.
But first, the school stuff, and also let me say: I know families and kids have different needs. Although my personal opinion and voice will always sway towards the wellbeing of children, on a case by case basis, I know each situation is different, and parents can only do what feels right or what feels wrong, regardless of my opinion. Power to each of you!
We have been doing online school for kindergarten and grade 3, mainly because my kids don't do too well when their parents cannot get involved to advocate for their needs, they often need days off or to go in late, and they have no interest in wearing masks or having to deal with cohvid stress, fears, and conversations all of the time.
Kindergarten online is a complete NO GO for us so far. Too much social programming, and when we do pop in (or speak to other kindergarten families), the kids are bored and the tasks require too much prep by the parents (who are then encouraged not to participate in their child's learning), and the teachers are incredibly condescending!
My husband has taught me, though, that it is always good for our kids to have an option to access community, and for that we are grateful. This is also a great resource for educational games for young kids: https://pbskids.org/sesame/games
I have absolutely no interest in enrolling our daughter in in person school, because, like I said, she unschooled herself after just 2 months of JK when there was no corona virus, and I absolutely hated the destructive meltdowns at school pickup, and the violent nightmares, so, for our own enjoyment of life and learning, we will just keep her home.
She is excellent at directing her own education and creative pursuits, but she did wish for more social interaction and people to play with. When the weather was warm, we continued to go to our local parks and collect numbers from the friends that we meet there. I think facilitating social play is something families should do on their own, and not rely on the shools, because each family has to assess their own comfort level (for risk and ability to navigate illness), and, in my opinion, this is too much for us to ask of the school.
Latest update: Our kids now attend Mother Earth's Learning Village two days per week, in person karate at Toraguchi Martial Arts, mentioned below, and swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School. Our daughter also does gymnastics in person at The Little Gym and non-competitive ballet online, while our son does coding online at ZebraRobotics, mentioned below. I also have an adult friend, whom they enjoy playing with, come to our home, twice per week to play with them, for a total of 8hrs/wk.
These are things that I may not have thought I had the money or time to invest in before. It's amazing what a few changes and restrictions can open up in your mind, when you re-prioritize to what is most important, for each child. I also think smaller paid programs are the way to go, because then everyone can select what meets their child's interests, their family's level of fear (and empowerment), and their family's definition for what it means to support and respect children!
Our ability to participate in all these in person programs, without fear, is probably because I feel confident in my ability to care for my kids if they were to get sick and to support others, see:
Masks are/were supposed to be by choice for kindergarteners, however we are aware that there is quite a bit of teacher-sanctioned peer pressure and bullying going on at the schools to keep those masks on (not to mention some people who pride themselves on depriving 2yr olds of oxygen!). See: Before you decide to wear PINK for the Anti-Bullying campaign, please read this... for my take on where bullying comes from an how I believe it is mishandled in the school system. Don't even get me started on their anti-racism campaigns, all the while with them asking me again and again to identify my children by colour in their census, no thank you!
Grade 3 online is also not without its flaws. The success of an online class appears to be very dependent on the teacher, the dynamics of the class members, and the degree to which the technology and technical understanding of all members is flawless. We have, however, been able to create a wonderful collaborative relationship with our son's teacher.
Here is where you can access the curriculum for your child.
From these various documents, we were able to grab the sections relevant for our child's grade (reducing hundreds of pages down to 58 pages). From this, we were able to identify 21 goals for the year. Then, of these 21 goals, we were able to identify the ones that are important to us (considering where our son is at and his interests in his unique educational journey). From this we built outward, looking at what the teacher can support us with (using her worksheets, links, and recommendations for books etc.). And then we looked around for other support that we could collect from other books, programs, and objects in our home.
We are focusing primarily on:
- art (the school provides great YouTube links for how-to videos, like ArtforKidsHub, and we have some books, supplies, and boxed projects.
- math with only numbers (no word problems)
- Lego mechanics and coding, currently using Boost (because this is what we already have), Technic appears to be too pricey to get into, so we may just leap to MindStorm Ev3, if the interest continues. Despite reading a decent review of Spike Prime (and the apparent promise of lego education support), we will probably skip this cute Lego-friends mid-level version and go for the updated Mindstorm product, if need be.
- Junior Electronics (micro:bit) and BlockCoding (scratch) with ZebraRobotics. Micro:bit education with ZebraRootics will evolve to arduino and then to raspberry:pi, and they also offers lego-based robot building classes, but only in person at the moment. Our son refuses to go anywhere he does not know if his parents can not come along - too many bad experiences, as he has trouble advocating for his needs, he is deeply misunderstood because he is incredibly deep, which can look like slow to process and moody, doing things for others at his own expense. As with our daughter, I truly find the restrictions of the corona virus have opened our minds to focus and give to the local programs that are aligned and of value to us. Doing so has enriched our lives, and we are so grateful!
- the grade 3 curriculum includes descriptive writing (my husband doesn't even know what a verb, noun, or adjective is, but our son is expected to learn about similes and metaphors), soil, some kind of social studies on the division of old Ontario and the types of jobs available to them, and scratch coding (see above, which I hope to get back to with my son, one day, the school system butchered the process of teaching coding, like they did with math, taking away all the fun, where kids get to see how much they "just know", adding more grunt work, to prove to the teachers that the kids are thinking the way they want them to think. Don't even get me started on what I think school is really about - mind (and by extension population) con-troll.
- We are certainly not interested in made up history (written by the gov-urn-ment), or the schools/gov-urn-ment's idea of the kind of jobs that might be available in 10-15yrs. Instead, we charted our own path, following my son's interests, which included Who Would Win and discussions and research about the corona virus. We also hired someone, to point us in the right direction, to learn about "how to set up a sustainable food supply in our home" (let me know if you are interested in her contact information). I will be honest, all he wanted to do was build and plant, and it was hard to get him to continue to engage in the background research. He did enjoy learning how to keep our dog safe in the process, how to keep pests out, what kind of gardens we could build, what we could grow inside, and we tried a few re-grows from scraps which flopped, so we are now are settling on a box share from Plan B Organic Farm, and we may sign up for BPlanty. This is also a great thing to look into: The Greater Reset
We are grateful to have a supportive grade 3 teacher, who understands where we are coming from and how to work with us, and a principal at our physical school, who reached out to the virtual school leadership on our behalf, to guarantee that our kids will not be kicked out of public school, for participating on their own terms. We did get a call early on, where they wanted to remove us from the program unless I said we were still trying to complete and submit the homework, and we do get a daily email reporting our kids' absence from attendance, but at least we were able to opt out of the automated daily phone calls.
We used to email or attach our son's work to the google drive, but after being told that they could not mark assignments they had not assigned, and I responded that we are not looking for a grade, our son is merely want to share what he is working on, we stopped. Its no fun to show something you are proud of to someone who just wants to dot eyes and cross teas. We also gave a similar response to an email that offered to reconsider his grade if he would do ABC, we are not interested in their evaluation of our child and stopped opening report cards a long time ago!
I want to give recognition and credit to teachers, who put in a lot of (off hour) time to create teaching materials, plan, and assess how things are going, and offer a series of links for multiple ways of doing things, like abcya.com, which you can pay to remove the ads, and we might.
It has not been easy to keep both parents on the same page, for what to do with school, m-ass-ks, or Vs, but we continue to work at it, because we all want what is best for our kids, each other, and our family.
This was day/week in the life (before we added two days at MELV):
- I am very proud of what we have created so far. The girls (5yrs and 1yr) do a lot together, often breakfast, play, and sometimes outdoor activities in the morning. Our son (8yrs) regularly works one-on-one with me, while our 1yr old is worn by her father for a mid-day 1-2hr nap. Sometimes our 5yr old joins him for parented or un-parented art. We attach the work he completes to the Journals his teacher has created in her Google Classroom, reflecting: Art, Math, Writing, and Science. At the end of each week, we reflect on what was missed and what will get higher priority in the following week. At the beginning of the next week, we do a rough plan for what we will try to cover each day for that week, and we visit his teacher's online classroom to see if anything of interest has been added. Mostly he accepts the Art challenges, and the rest we improvise on, on our own end, having identified our own gaps and interests to work on. Reading is currently being done regularly, but not yet reflected in his Journals. This week he submitted a video (that he created with zoom and posted privately to YouTube) to show his progress in coding. His writing assignment was a review of how each person is feeling about his at-home schooling, and how the concerns of others can be addressed, for an improved experience for all. We do not attach anything to our kindergartener's Google Classroom, because her teachers have not made a good connection with her, so she does not care to share what she does with them. It's a wonderful life, allowing ALL of us (parent, child, teacher, and bystander) to evolve as we naturally do. Even my business (the way I do business, study, complete my work, and interact with others) is evolving every day, for the better and better. Our kids also do their own projects, in their own time: Our son takes apart and fixes his toys, plays strategy and building games, sets up online playdates with his friends, and expands his understanding by watching videos he finds on YouTube. Our daughter practices drawing, writing letters, singing, makeup, hairdos, nails and social interaction with her toys. And our baby works on all kinds of skills (like practicing new words, putting on shoes, climbing, dancing, etc.). We all work on self-care, advocating for our limits and needs, trying to make life easier for each other, while trying to get into our own space, before we lash out at each other, if we can. Others can live this way too, if they want to!
I hope this helps to inspire you, to see that there are MANY ways of doing things, and below are more ideas for you to consider:
- Lasalle Wadding Pool and Nelson Outdoor (direct access, no mask) Pool: Keep this in mind for next summer, and I will add skate and ski options as we learn more.
- Halton Parks: You used to have to sign up for a 2hr timeslot in advance, but I am not sure that is the case anymore.
- Coronation Park: always a good free option, some people even swim there, but I am not sure this is advised! The large covered seating areas were closed (not sure about now)
- Rockwood Park: has a small sandy beach, forest walking trails, no boats for rent at the moment but you can bring your own. There are also some small caves to explore, bridges to cross, waterfalls, and beautiful places to sit. The only rule is not to jump off the cliffs. They do not allow anyone in after they reach capacity, even if other people leave. They tend to reach capacity by 10am on the weekends and not at all on the weekdays. Cost $3 per child over 5yrs of age, and $7.50 per adult. Camping spots still available on weekdays.
- RBG: has a few parks that do not require you to go inside to access (i.e., the Arboretum and Hendrie Park, direct access, on the opposite side of Plains Rd from the main building. My guess is Laking Garden is the same). It appears all of these direct access parks are $3/hr for parking, no membership appears to be required. The signs ask people not to meet there to socially gather and not to stay longer than 1.5hrs, to give others a chance. No masks required, just social distance with other guests.
- Rattray Marsh: has rocky beach access, where some people swim in the waves, though I would not with my little ones. There are many playgrounds, a splashpad, a possible hotdog vendor, and stroller-accessible boardwalk trails through cattail marshes. The easiest place to park to access this area is: Jack Darling Memorial Park (1180 Lakeshore Rd. West)
- Lions Valley is also a nice place to go, apparently dogs can swim there, there is a limited playground, with more obstacle style equipment, no slides, and limited parking.
- Binbrook: $5 cash to enter. Its busy on the weekends, not on the weekdays. The splash pad is closed, but there are gazebos, a kids play structure, and walking trails. The big WIN are the TreeTop Trekking options (but call in advance, as we discovered this week, they are not open every day): The TreeWalk Village is for kids 0-17, kids <3yrs are free, 3-17yrs are $20 each, and adults are $7 each, for 2hrs. You can not send your kids in without an adult, but the adult does not have to (but can) climb. It is totally doable by a confident walking baby, with a bit of help, beware the slides are fast in the middle, slow at the end. The Discovery Courses are for kids 5yrs and up, as long as they are 45inches or taller. Kids are connected to a cable system, which means they can not fall off, and if they can not complete the obstacle course they have the option to just lift their feet and ride the course zipline-style to the end. The cost is $25 for 1.5hrs, ride/climb as many times as you want. The Arial Tracks are for ages 9yrs and up, as long as they are 55inches or taller, and are responsible enough to hook their harness into the safety wire on their own, and complete all obstacles (as they can not just lift their feet to get a ride to the end). We only saw adults on these track. The cost is likely also $25 for 1.5hrs of unlimited climbing. The times are set (i.e., 1-3pm, 3-5pm, 130-3pm, etc., and they end early), so book ahead to avoid disappointment. Also, you have to sign a waiver for each person (on your phone or using their ipad), even adults and babies, so it may be nice to do this from the comfort of your own home. They do have flushable, portable bathrooms, with soap and paper, and enough room to go in and help your child if need be.
- I understand, not everyone is ready for indoor play, but when you are, this is a great opportunity: We Rock The Spectrum (for all kids, ages 0-13yrs), Private Facility Rental, $75+tx for up to 10 people (including adults), 45min break between sessions, where the gym is cleaned using a sanitizer mixed with water, no smell, often used at schools and daycares, safe even on food surfaces. Owner wears a mask, attendees don't have to, as it is with your unique bubble of 10 people. Atendees need to wash their hands or use sanitizer before entering the gym, and they must sign the corporate waiver. Location: 245 Wyecroft Rd, Unit 3, Oakville, Ontario. Reach out to owner Tatiana (905-337-0101) to book your spot, when you are ready.
- You can also contact Andrea at SoulJourn Adventure to create a wonderful staycation, entertainment plan suited to your family's interests, needs, and to build off of what you already know. Follow her on Insta first to get a feel for what she has to offer!
- "I hope you dance!" - by the Burlington waterfront still going strong, contact Kinga for details/directions (289) 339 7812.
- Miss Danielson Math, tons of free videos with option for paid one on one support! A contact at scholastic also recommends the following for math for the younger ages: Zorbits Math, Prodigy Math, and Mathletics
- Through the school we have access to PebbleGo, RazKids, DreamBoxMath (haven't tried this one yet), and more. Through the GoogleClassroom we have free access to Google Read&Write with SpeechToText and AudioRecorder ability. I'm a big fan of TextAloud for myself, but I think you have to cut and paste the text out from the source to the software, and there is no mobile version, although TextToSpeech seems to be pretty good.
- Through our local library we have access to Encyclopedia Britannica for read-aloud science topics (our 8yr old says they read too fast, I emailed the physical library to see if the reading speed can be adjusted, no response, I personally find the reading pace is good, and that other children's software reads too slow, but to each their own), and cloudLibrary for online books.
- Amazon Prime Video also appears to have many of the books (in animated form) which are imbedded in their BookFlix platform. Unfortunately the Scholastic Learn-At-Home platform, which looks awesome, is only available in the states. I also just emailed this link to my 5 year old, it looks promising: https://www.storylineonline.net/
Sir Ken Robinson PhD, on how we can use this time to revolutionize education to support kids!
- Toraguchi Martial Arts offers outdoor and indoor distanced no masks (except for entry and exit) classes, as well as online classes. Reach out to DJ (905-849-7625) to see if they have (or can create) something to meet your comfort level and needs!
All powerful kids, especially those carrying karmic or soul destiny 9s or 1s in their Soul Contract, could benefit from proper martial arts training, from teachers who stand firmly in their integrity (which, when martial arts becomes trendy, is actually hard to find). Knowing how to channel one's anger and frustration with integrity is key, with everything that is going on right now. Behind anger and frustration is always fear. Behind fear is always a disconnection from love. Re-connect your kids to love. Let them know they are ok. This will allow them to feel safe enough to be angry, and to channel their anger toward positive change. Adult classes also available.
My husband has just released an app so that you can calculate your own Soul Contract charts, see Soul Contract Calculator.
If you have anything you would like to add to this list, please reach out.
We also have a group of local parents who meet online and get together in person, to create group activities. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to join a whatsapp group for local park meetups. And don't forget to frequent your local parks, to meet others who can become local allies and friends.
Join us anytime by sending me an email (email@example.com).
We also have many skilled alternative practitioners who can offer support, education, and guidance, so we don't take things too personally, and so we don't feel so alone! It is so important to have something for YOU when you are going to embark to be of service to your kids. Here are some courses to learn more about your self and your kids.
What you serve others should be what overflows from your FULL cup, not the last drops in your empty cup!!
Also, read this document carefully, so you understand your rights if you choose online education for your kids, including: you have the right to have online education delivered to you in a different way if your child needs access to the laptop that you are using in the daytime to do work!
And, if you want to build with us, you can join part of the radical conversation here: Brave New Education. My only request, if you decide to join us, is: please be kind or walk away. We are doing this for the KIDS!
And know, it only takes a little bit of input at a time to grow a good brain. When your kids take breaks, you can too!!
Let's work together!!
Love and Bless, Strong Family, Strong Light!
Family Dynamics and Life Purpose Specialist
MSc Psychology (Stress & Health)