On a hot and humid day in July, I’m thinking about possibilities for the Fall Term and how we can continue to maintain and build the community that we love. My great preference would be for us to meet weekly or even several days a week, but that seems unlikely given the current state of the pandemic and the continued restrictions on groups using diocesan buildings. The space at St. John’s was already tight for us and adding social distancing requirements makes it fairly unusable for our group. I think too, that we have a tremendous responsibility to be cautious for the sake of our members who have lower immune defenses. Yet we still need to acknowledge and serve the needs of humans to meet and interact, and perhaps especially the needs of mothers and children in this regard.
The main strength of our group is in the community that we offer for parents and children. Part of that strength is in the time that we spend together and part of it is in our common studies, and the time we spend in prayer and taking meals together. I believe that this community is vitally important for our own and our children’s mental and spiritual health – particularly in these unusual times- and I want to build up that aspect in person and virtually so that we have the maximum flexibility to meet any restrictions that may be imposed or that we might need to choose for the sake of our members.
We have found that virtual classes don’t work well for many of us and aren’t really aligned with the charism of the community, so I want to stay away from them if at all possible. Instead I am proposing the following:
1. That classes and materials be made available for us to use together. Each family would pay a small fee for materials (similar to the fees at co-op) and would receive the materials by mail. We would then use these materials in our own homes. I’m currently thinking that these classes would be: Science, Nature Study, Handwork, Art, Memory and Recitation, History and Geography and families could sign up for as many as they wanted. Most would work for several ages at once and could be done as Family Study.
2. Plan to meet up every six weeks for Family Day for recitations and display of work and workshops for various age groups and parents. For example: The students who were taking a particular science class would meet on that day to do dissections or other experiments. A group of students could be introduced to a new Handcraft and then take home the materials to work on it during the next six weeks. Parents could have an option of a particular class on and aspect of homeschooling or catechesis or some other time that would be intended to feed their minds and souls. There would be three of these meetings per 12 week term- one to begin the term, one at the midway point, and one at the end. We would plan to meet outdoors if possible or in a gym where social distancing etc could be observed.
3. Continue our online Mother Culture group
4. Encourage people to do outdoor activities like hiking etc. in small groups and even organize a regular set of hikes or nature walks
The focus will really be on the community and providing ways to have a common set of things for discussion (books, handwork, memory work etc.) and providing opportunities to meet in safe ways.
I welcome your thoughts, questions, and suggestions.