This year I have been transported back in time to long division, and doing it the good ol’ fashioned way—on paper. You know, it’s the math that your Fourth Grade teacher insisted you would use in your day-to-day life?
Well, fast forward twenty-three years and I’m actually using it.
I have successfully taught seven kids, in my home, how to do long division. The best part about it is that it is just the tip of the iceberg of incredible things we are learning this year.
Being a Prenda Guide
My name is Amber. I’m a mother of three children and a Prenda Microschool Guide. This means that I have the privilege of inviting seven children—one being my own—into my home four days a week to learn, teach each other, and make unforgettable memories.
At Prenda, our mission is very simple: we empower learners. To empower means to make someone stronger and more confident, or to give them the power and authority to do something.
Within the walls of my microschool I am empowering these children to be co-creators of their education.
I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about how lucky I am to have this opportunity to walk alongside these kids on their journeys. It is truly amazing to watch them grow everyday and take charge of their own learning.
A Typical Day at a Prenda Microschool
As I finish the morning chores and bussle of family life in the morning, the school children dash through the front door full of energy and life. First, they go outside to check on the vegetable garden they helped plant. Before heading back in, they swing by the goat pen to say good morning to the mama goats and their babies. They are a favorite around here.
After that, we head inside for Community Circle.
Today, we set our intention for the day by discussing one of our core values, start with heart. We talk about ways to pay attention to our thoughts and emotions and what we can do when we become overwhelmed.
After Community Circle, the children set individual goals for what they want to accomplish in Conquer that day. They take turns shouting out the number of lessons they aspire to get done in math, reading, writing, etc., and I help guide them to their unique finish lines as they get started on their core subject work.
- Helping sound out difficult words in large reading passages
- Going over multiplication facts with a Third Grader
- Hearing one student help another in descending decimals
- Breaking down what idioms are with a few Fourth Graders
- Providing some time-telling manipulatives for hands-on practice with clocks
- Adding the word “yet” to the end of any “I can’t do this” statements that are said
Following lunch and recess, we come together for Collaborate.
Today in Collaborate, we gather around my big circular dining room table for “Poetry Tea Time.”
We have a small snack and some lemonade that I made the night before. The kids giggle as they drink, lifting their pinky fingers up in the air. The real magic happens when I get out the poetry books and we all take turns reading and discussing poetry.
Next, we dive into Create.
During Create today, we work on pointillism paintings inspired by George Seurat and his famous technique of painting using only dots. The children are fascinated as they try to design landscapes, one dot at a time.
The children take turns sharing a struggle and a success of theirs from the day. Lastly, we say the pledge of allegiance and they head back to their own homes.
My day of bussing my own children around to activities now begins.
As I sit at my son’s karate class, my mind spins about the day. I doubt myself. Did I do enough? Did I help enough?
Just as my thoughts begin to spiral, I am pulled back to reality when I hear the class recite the definition of belief, “Yes, I can!” It is just what I need to hear to keep me going.
Being a guide can be challenging, but also extremely rewarding.
I can do this!
I believe in myself as a guide and as a mom.
Written by: Amber Fenn, Prenda guide
Images by: Adriane Thompson
What is Prenda?
Prenda is a learning model focused on empowering learners. In fact, that’s the mission! We support microschools where 5-10 students meet together in an informal setting (often a classroom, library, or other suitable location), learn at their own pace, build projects, and engage with each other in collaborative activities. Each microschool is supported by a certified learning guide and utilizes a proven mastery and project-based learning model to give students more agency and autonomy in their learning. The result is a child that loves to learn resulting in strong academic progress.