A mother of 4 organizes a hybrid homeschooling
Al Lesar, Buyer News
Two years ago, when the pandemic sent her two children home from school, Ashley Graham-Smith kept them there.
The Powell resident, while juggling a baby and toddler with a second and sixth grader, is forming a homeschool group with a unique twist in nurturing.
A corporate graphic designer and marketer by trade, Graham-Smith has embraced her role as a stay-at-home mom and nurturer.
Last year, Graham-Smith and her children were part of a co-op business that allowed for once-a-week socializing. This year, as the spring semester begins, she formed the Guiding Lights Hybrid Homeschool.
The teacher joins the parents
The unique touch of the home school concept has a professional teacher partnering with parents in teaching math, language arts, reading and writing.
It has two modules with 7 to 15 children in each module. There is one approved teacher/tutor per module who works with the children in a multi-age class from 10am to 2pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. A separate set of enrichment classes is the Friday Fundays.
All classes are conducted at North Acres Baptist Church. Graham-Smith said the cost for Monday-Wednesday sessions is about $25/day. The cost of Funday Fridays varies.
“One of my kids doesn’t like math and the other doesn’t like English,” Graham-Smith said. “When I try to teach it, it’s not a good feeling on both sides. Also, they miss the friendships they had.
Graham-Smith said that in the multi-age classroom, all students focus on a single concept. In teaching this concept, there are beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Students can move from level to level throughout the semester. This method only works in K-8 grades. She will have to work on high school in the fall.
Learning is everywhere
Graham-Smith said the multi-age class is popular in the West.
“Older kids thrive as group leaders,” she said. “Younger children become advanced with the work they do with older ones.”
Being the organizer of such a big project was a challenge for Graham-Smith, but she didn’t do it alone.
“It got a lot bigger than I ever thought it would,” she said. “I told my husband that when a lot of doors close, it’s time to stop. The doors keep opening. Whenever I needed it, I got help from someone. I certainly haven’t been able to do it myself.
The education process was a learning experience for Graham-Smith. Last year, she babysat her children on a structured schedule. With two little ones in addition to the students, it was more stressful than anything else.
“You’re constantly in school, no matter the day or the time,” Graham-Smith said. “Kids can learn at the grocery store. Gift wrapping involves both math and art.
“My daughter is a promising event planner. She made a flowchart for her birthday party activities.
“There is always something that could be taught.”
For more information on Guiding Lights Hybrid Homeschool, find its page on Facebook or send your questions to: [email protected]
It’s not easy to be adorable again
Leslie Snow, Buyer News
“You’re the cutest person I’ve ever seen in overalls!” exclaimed the nice lady from the doctor’s office in a soft voice that I’m not used to hearing. It was somewhere between the tone you might use to talk to a baby and the voice you use to calm a puppy.
But while an infant might coo and a puppy might wag its tail at that suave tone, I didn’t do either of those things. I just thanked the stranger and whispered to my mom under my breath, “Remind me not to wear those overalls anymore. I don’t think the world can handle that much kindness.
My mom laughed and went back to playing puns on her phone. I didn’t think about the incident until a few days later, when Amanda and Ethan arrived in town.
Amanda hugged me as she walked through the door, then looked at my black and gray tie-dyed leggings and said, “Look how adorable you are!” I’d like to take you shopping this weekend and help you choose something fabulous.
I smiled and nodded like people do when they don’t know how to react. But my sweet daughter-in-law was waiting for an answer so I said, “Shopping would be great!” I could use new clothes. But what I was really thinking was, “When did I get so adorable?”
And to my surprise, I heard the word again, later that week, when I was out to dinner with my husband.
We were in the lobby of a restaurant waiting for our table when we bumped into a close friend’s daughter. We chatted happily and exchanged family updates before she paused and said warmly, “You’re just the cutest couple. Look at each other in your fashionable outfits and stylish shoes. You are absolutely adorable!”
We waited until we got to our table before we started laughing. “I guess she doesn’t think people over 50 follow fashion trends,” my husband said with a smile. “I guess following fashion trends at our age makes us adorable,” I replied with a smile.
At the end of the evening, as we drove home, I thought back to the terms of endearment I had heard during the week.
The words were intended to be complementary. They were meant to be nice and flattering. I wasn’t offended by them, just puzzled. I haven’t been called “cute” since I was 5 and wore pigtails. And I can’t remember the last time someone said I was adorable.
But here I am in my late 50s, becoming precious again.
It’s the weird thing we do to people as they get older. We speak to them in a high-pitched voice. We find their social life charming and their desire to keep up to date amusing. With the best of intentions, we infantilize them and treat them with a degree of gentleness they may not want.
I also see it when I go out with my mother. Well-meaning people forget that at 88 she is sharp and has years of wisdom under her belt.
I’m only 58, but I know that when twenties look at me, they see an old lady. I am entering the adorable phase of my life. And if I’m lucky, I’ll be cherished for years to come.
After that, I’ll just be invisible.
Leslie Snow can be reached at snow [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Shopper News brings you the latest happenings in your community