Learning is such a gift! I love to involve students in experiential learning, which engages their senses in what they are learning. Our Scholé Group, Sola Gratia Classical Academy (SGCA), has been a place for students to do just that—fully engage their bodies and minds in their studies. All of our teachers are passionate about the subjects they teach, and an atmosphere of excitement for learning has been “caught” on campus. One of the main ways we have punctuated student learning each quarter has been through the practice of “learning celebrations.”
You may not be familiar with learning celebrations, so let me expand on what they are and engage your senses in a little bit of what we do at SGCA. We use the material that our students are learning in their Great Books class as our basis for our learning celebrations. We then use our Fine Arts class to provide a space for students to help create props and materials for the events. We combine these two elements in the final two weeks of the quarter, collaborating to provide a fully embodied way of mastering the material they have just learned. Over the last three quarters, our students have put together a Beatnick poetry café to master literary devices, an ancient Cinderella play to master the elements of a storyboard, and Greek vignettes to master their understanding of character development. For our final learning celebration, our students are working on Aesop’s fables, which they will explore through the medium of puppetry.
Engage your senses with this video sample of our learning celebrations.
Not every learning celebration must involve extensive preparation. In addition to the larger celebrations, we have also had a few smaller classroom-based celebrations, such as Latin Day and Pi Day. These learning celebrations have turned what would normally be just school into a vibrant love for learning that is felt throughout our campus.
Learning celebrations are one way to enhance the experiential aspect of learning in your Scholé Group and deepen student bonding through shared experience. These events energize our students, reinforce what they have learned in class, and draw them into a deeper love of learning. Learning celebrations also allow students to encounter and embody the material they have just learned, which leads them to mastery. We have had so much fun with the kids, who have really been amazing—surprising even themselves at times—as they have stepped up to participate. The amount of energy and excitement that surrounds each of their learning celebrations is infectious.
Sola Gratia Classical Academy (SGCA) is located in Cary, NC, and we are in the final month of our pilot year as a Scholé Group! This year has been such a tremendous blessing. We’ve learned so much, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I stepped out in faith to start this group (with the encouragement of Dr. Perrin, whom I owe a big ‘thank you!’). We’ve enjoyed this year tremendously. I had no idea all the blessings it would bring to our lives.
We currently have 27 students, and next year we have 68 students registered! Our Scholé Group has experienced a tremendous response to what we are doing. Parents are hungry for a way to classically educate their children—restfully and in a way that embodies Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Truly celebrating the joy and gift of learning provides a positive framework on which students can build their thoughts about education. We are creating a community culture in which students collaborate and put virtue into practice in a meaningful way, and in which learning is prized (and celebrated!) in a practical way. This is how we are participating in the renewal of education at SGCA.
Colleen Leonard is the director of Sola Gratia Classical Academy: A Scholé Group in Cary, North Carolina and the founder of the Wonderful Wednesdays program (find out more at www.SolaGratiaMom.com). Colleen is a seasoned homeschool mom and co-op leader who generously shares her wisdom and recommendations with new Scholé Groups.