Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Grand Tradition in the Making

The picture of a bunch of kids in costume is from the Shakespeare play, A Midsummer's Night Dream, that my two oldest children helped perform recently. I was really impressed with the quality of the performance this year. The costumes were so grand and the acting very good for youth ages 12 to 16. It helped to have a synopsis of each scene printed in the program. I wouldn't have understood it otherwise, because my Shakespearese is not good. This play performance was sponsored by the Commonwealth School, organized by homeschooling parents, that my two oldest attend, here in north Davis County, Utah.

The other pictures are from my daughter's "Key of Liberty" class while they had their Constitution Bowl, answering questions about the Constitution, and then from their Awards Night.

This is a school based on principles of the Thomas Jefferson Education philosophy for youth who are in scholar phase. It's kind of like a co-op but better. I've done a few co-ops in my homeschooling days. The commonwealth school is set up to keep running even after the families who start it leave because their kids get too old. It is meant to be governed at the local, small community level, just like the old-fashioned one-room schoolhouses were. It has a board of parents who run it, and then a slate of teachers/mentors who are also parents with children in the school. A constitution outlines the rules for it. The concept was developed by Tiffany Earl, under guidance from Oliver DeMille, author of A Thomas Jefferson Education book. Tiffany asked Aneladee Milne to be her partner and they are constantly refining the idea. They do weekly conference call training to the teachers/mentors, so there's a lot of support. I love the name for it "commonwealth," for that implies that it is for the common good of all involved.

Most Commonwealth schools I know of meet at Baptist or other non-LDS church buildings. They use curriculum prepared by LEMI (see LEMI was started by Aneladee and Tiffany, two moms who love the TJED philosophy and have created projects for scholar phasers. These are projects to help youth learn about the Constitution, Shakespeare, the War between the States (aka the Civil War) principles of math and science, and
great statesmen in world history.

The youth meet once a week to work on these scholar projects in classes and then do the rest of the work at home. This once a week school has been perfect for my youth to have an opportunity to meet with peers and have a social life with other homeschoolers. If you homeschool and have children 12 and up who are getting bored of homeschooling, this may be just the thing for them. If you have been doing regular "conveyor belt" schooling with your kids and are dissatisfied with that as well as the generally silly and vulgar junior high atmosphere, this may be a much better alternative.

You can learn all about LEMI and commonwealth schools at You can take the training this summer to start one up for the fall in your community. I think you will love the results. Aneladee and Tiffany are having a webinar on Friday June 12, 2009 to help parents learn more about being a mentor to their children for their children's education. I encourage you to go to to learn more. You can buy the book about Commonwealth Schools to learn about their history at the web site. I think they are a wonderful idea, a grand tradition in the making, and I hope they will spread all over the globe. Right now they are mostly in the western United States but every year more sprout up. Maybe you will start one!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Celestia,

    Found you on progressive sad I missed the April Conference, would love to be on a list so that I don't miss next year's (you'll have one right?). Enjoying your burden giving (it's been on my mind this week...praying for help in the lifting as well).

    Anyways. I'd email you, though I couldn't find your address on the I'll leave you a longer than long comment. :)
    My kiddos and I have lots of food allergies, seasonal allergies, was reading your post on staying away from grains and dairy. I definitely have noticed a difference from staying away from dairy during allergy season (recommended by my kinesiologist also). Anyways, I've been creating all kinds of dairy-free'll find archives at the daily delights (look at the tabs at the top).

    I have a harder time during pregnancy as well...especially with the added hunger. Do you enjoy legumes, beans, etc? They seem to help me keep my energy and blood sugar where it should be.

    Hang in there. You are an inspiration to so many of us. Thanks for sharing all you do and feel. Much love, trina