Greetings from Classical Homeschool Africa, a Nairobi based Scholé community which is the first of its kind in Kenya. We are a small group who initially started as families with a shared desire to provide the best education to our children using the classical method. As we pondered on how we would accomplish this, our research led us to discover Scholé, which we believe to be a great framework to establish a functional homeschooling co-op owing to the benefits and freedoms each scholé group is afforded. We started this journey in May 2020 as seven families, and have since grown to ten families, who together have purposed to build a truly classical community with adequate structure, while maintaining a level of autonomy, flexibility, and restfulness.
The start of our first term coincided with the end of a spike in the COVID-19 cases in Kenya. We therefore had to make arrangements to meet outdoors in order to comply with social distancing health requirements. We ended up having our classes in one of our family’s gardens. Given the limited outdoor space available at the residence, we also had to make the call that only the middle and high school learners would meet physically. It was however resolved that in the absence of meeting physically, the grammar students would meet weekly online for a couple of hours to cover literature, English grammar, and to play fun memory work games.
As with many academic homeschooling co-ops, routine is key, thus we have tried to maintain routine to our scholé days. We begin our weekly meetings at 9am with contemplation, a bible verse, a virtue, singing the Kenyan National Anthem, and prayer. The students then break into their separate classes according to age group. Our parents are the teachers on Scholé days. Our middle and high school students enjoy classes in literature/composition, Latin, science, math, logic, and history. We spend the lunch hour in the company of one another, enjoying Nairobi weather under a canopy of trees. We end each of these days by coming together again expressing our gratitude for our conversations, what we have learned, and also the blessing of our community.
“Key to our inception were the dads of our founding families. “
Key to our inception were the dads of our founding families. We believed that in order to be the community we envision, we would need the involvement of not only the students and the moms, but also the dads. They have offered and continue to offer invaluable insight and support to our community. One of the interesting ways the dads engage is through our monthly “lunch and learn” activity, where a ‘guest’ speaker comes during our lunch hour and discusses their career and the path they took to get there. Speakers have mostly been dads, but this has not deterred other family members and friends from participating. During this session, our students are given an opportunity to engage in dialogue with the speaker with a question-and-answer session afterwards. The hope is to show our students that there are several ways of obtaining the same end goal as well as to expose them to new and interesting career paths. To complement this further, our homeschool dads plan to champion an effort to expose our students to the practical side of learning by affording them the opportunities to shadow industry professionals in areas of interest to them.
Our homeschool co-op would not be worthwhile and complete without fun activities. One of the things we do as a community is to come together once a month in an informal setting and just socialize and enjoy each other’s company. We also have a monthly fun day where students and parents alike have fun with dress up, with days for career dress up, where students dress up according to the career they would like in the future, pajama day, and crazy hair day. We hope that these events outside of academic areas add a sense of restfulness and will help to strengthen us as a community.
“We hope that these events outside of academic areas add a sense of restfulness and will help to strengthen us as a community.”
It’s been almost a year since we started this homeschooling community, and we are grateful for the opportunity to educate our children this way. In many respects we are still finding our way as a community. We therefore expect that our current goals and traditions will continue to evolve based on the needs of the students, and of the community. As we plan for next year, a key point of conversation is how to keep what is covered in community culturally relevant. We know there is a wealth of classical materials out there, but most are heavily skewed to the western world which may not fit well with the primarily African students who we teach. One of our goals is to include Kiswahili as a language offering in addition to Latin. Another is to include Kenyan and African history in our memory work and history classes. One last idea is to include novels and short stories written by authors of the diaspora in our literature classes.
One of our community short-term goals is to find a meeting place large enough to allow our entire community to meet together before the end of this term. In doing this, we will also be able to share this wonderful way of learning with additional like-minded families.
Shani Croom-Muriithi is one of the directors of Classical Homeschool Africa, A Scholé Group. She is a mom of four children who started homeschooling almost five years ago when she and her family relocated to Kenya from Northern Virginia. She has been using classical methods for three of those years. She enjoys engaging in thoughtful conversation with family and friends as well as sharing all that she has learned along her homeschooling journey thus far.