Scholé Spotlight: Cedarbrook Scholé Community
Hello! We are Cedarbrook Scholé Community, a group meeting in Southern California for the past school year. We are actually a subset of a larger group that disbanded after the last school year. We have five families in our group, with fourteen kids ranging from age 3 through high school.
We were drawn to Scholé Groups because we wanted our homes to be places of growth and rest, even as we worked hard in our academic studies. But like many homeschooling families, this was an ideal that was difficult to attain—at least not without some intentionality. It certainly isn’t going to happen just by wishing!
So when we gathered together last summer to vision and plan for the upcoming school year, we turned to Psalm 1. We chose our name based on the image in this psalm, which compares the righteous man to a tree planted by streams of water, lush and fruitful. We realized that this was what we wanted to see most in our children. This, more than our academic goals, is what I believe united us as a group.
Being a part of this pilot year has challenged me personally to be accountable to the goals of Scholé Groups. I have always longed to have a more peaceful and restful school environment, but year after year would go by without it becoming a reality. When I heard Dr. Perrin’s talk at our local convention and the invitation to start a pilot group, I jumped at it! I knew that being a part of this experience would force me to follow through on my intentions for integrity’s sake, if nothing else.
For our family, and for some of the others, this meant starting some new habits this year, which mainly meant setting aside time to dedicate our school day and studies to the Lord. Though this is a small portion of our day, my husband and I have decided that this is a step of faith that we will take this year, trusting that whatever is most important will get done. This has meant sometimes skipping sections of my elaborate lesson plans, but honestly, we have not found that has derailed us a whole lot.
As for our group, we meet once weekly. On the second and fourth Fridays, we meet at my home. I believe this has kept the focus on home-schooling. With a small group, it has been possible for one mom to provide lunch for all of us. We take turns with this, which has helped us to enjoy a home cooked meal without having to make lunch every week!
We start the day with an opening session, singing a hymn, sharing a devotional, and/or spending time in prayer. As much as possible, we would share these responsibilities, with the kids taking part when they can. The older children have contributed by sharing devotionals, and all the kids join in praying.
After this time, we split up into three groups throughout the house. Each of us takes one part of the teaching; with a small group, everyone contributes! We have a group of elementary age children, roughly 2nd through 6th grade, studying Latin, writing, and science together. Generally, we complete our assignments at home, with our group time focused on review activities, sharing and editing our essays, and performing experiments.
We also have two older high school age kids studying Latin, informal logic, and literature. Currently, we are using the Walking to Wisdom series and enjoying our trek through Middle Earth with Frodo and Sam. Normally, I would be the kind of mom/teacher that would assign every question and project. Inspired by Dr. Perrin’s “Multum Non Multa” talk however, I took a step of faith and only assigned a few questions from the workbook, which has allowed us to zoom in on particular ideas and probe more deeply into the themes of the book. We still have a lot of material to cover for the older kids, but intentionally choosing to do less has allowed us to enjoy it more and has resulted in much more fruitful and meaningful conversations.
One mom takes our youngest kids (there are 3) and keeps them profitably engaged with books and activities while the older ones are in class. After classes are over, we enjoy a leisurely lunch together. Sometimes, after lunch, we have taken the opportunity to have our kids practice their public speaking skills by sharing their original writing or memorized poems or Scripture. After that the kids are free to run and play in our backyard. The moms then have some time to share and pray as well.
But the highlight, I believe, for our group is what we do on our first and third Fridays. On those days, we get together at our church and have a shortened day of school, followed by sack lunches. Then at noon, we head on out to join other volunteers to serve at the food pantry that our church sponsors on our grounds. This has been a wonderful experience for our kids. They have jumped right in, helping to bag up produce, distribute food, and help cart crates and bags of food into the cars of our guests. This component has helped our kids to enjoy community in service together, but more importantly, has helped us to remember that education is not limited to books and studies.
Being a small group has had its challenges. We all have to pitch in and work hard. When one family calls in sick or is out of town, we feel the impact a lot more. However, I have found that this size has also allowed us to enjoy a feeling of family that we didn’t have in our larger group. Though we could probably use a bit more organization (at least on my part!), we keep things rather simple. It has worked well for us and the kids are growing and thriving. We pray that this experience together will truly help them on their journey toward becoming those flourishing trees of righteousness.
Post written by Vera Christian, Director of Cedarbrook Scholé Community
Vera Christian is the director of Cedarbrook Scholé Community, a small Scholé Group in southern California.