Magical Moments: California Gold Country


{photo by Brenda Tebbets}


It’s Labor Day, and there are no classes on campus today or tomorrow, so enjoy the small break and consider doing an enrichment activity or two for E&E hours. Each student needs 12 hours of Enrichment and Educational activities per trimester, and these can be met through field trips, museums, exploring a topic of interest, viewing documentaries or historical movies, and other educational activities. SLOCA Enrichment or Academy classes count too. 


Speaking of field trips, today we bring you a Magical Moment from the Tebbets family all about their summer trip to California's gold country. Eric and Brenda Tebbets are a Track B family in their 6th year at SLOCA, with children Tristan (Int) and Jacob (LMS). Brenda writes:





One of my favorite moments are those times when I see something around us and use that moment to quiz my children to see if they can recall what they have learned at school.  Recently, we just visited the Angels Camp Museum in Tuolomne County.  My main reason for stopping there was to see the Mark Twain display.  I really did not know what else to expect on our visit there.  They had an impressive collection of carraiges from the 1800's.  Everything from a hearse, fire wagon, stagecoach, a covered wagon and many others. 


One of my favorite displays were the 2 printing presses they have.  I quickly asked my boys, "who invented the printing press?"  I'm sure we impressed Jim, the staff member, when my son could answer the question - Johann Gutenberg.  He then gave my boys a private lesson on how the presses worked.  After that, while the boys explored the mining section of the museum, Jim showed my husband and I the display on how the Stamp Mills worked for mining the gold out of the mountains.  It was really cool just to see the display in motion, and even with all the Gold Rush episodes I have seen, Jim's explanation of how each step worked made it all the more interesting.  After that, Jim taught our family the technique for panning for gold.  Another great moment was when he used the word Eureka and asked if we knew what it meant.  My son quickly answered, "I found it, and it was Archimedes who said it."  Again, I think we took Jim by surprise that a 10 year old knew this answer.  


Although we stopped at this museum just to bring to life Mark Twain, which we had covered in school the year before last, we were able to tie 3 of the 4 time periods we study at SLOCA, the Ancients - Archimedes, Renaissance - Johann Gutenberg, and Modern Times - Mark Twain.  I am always impressed with education that my children receive at SLOCA, but it is moments like these that remind me that all that hard work is priceless. 




Thanks for sharing, Brenda! We love hearing about how history comes to life for our families, and how our students make connections and appreciate experiences like this! 


If you have a Magical Moment to share on the blog, we would LOVE to hear it! It can be something from a trip like this, or a homeschool victory, or any special moment for you or your kids that reminds you why you have chosen to educate this way. Please email Down Home and tell us about it!


Also, if you took photos on the first day of school, we would love to share some of those on the blog as well! Please upload them to flickr (email Down Home for instructions if you need them) or email them straight to the blog coordinator - thank you! We are always looking for photos of school events and homeschool days, so keep the photos coming!  




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Categorized: Archive, Magical Moments

Free Friday and Technology




It’s Friday! Well done, everyone! Whether you’re a new or returning family, it takes a little time to adjust to a new school or transition back into routines, so don’t worry if you’re not feeling settled yet. We have a long weekend ahead to gather materials, organize emails, prep your home, or just take a deep breath.


Fridays here at Down Home are just that – a day where we gently encourage you to take a deep breath, slow down, and step away from the technology and craziness for a bit to be with your family and focus on relationships. We call it “Free Friday,” or “Free by 5:00 Friday” not because it’s a day off, but as a reminder to intentionally carve out some device-free time over the weekend. It doesn’t have be exactly 5:00 pm on Friday, but that’s a great place to start if you want to make this a priority. Down Home wants to offer inspiration and occasional ideas to help you in this endeavor. 


We want you to know why we feel this is important enough to be our focus on Fridays, so our Director Susie Theule has a bit more to share: 



Technology – we love it and we loathe it.  It opens us up to new forms of relating, gathering information, and keeping us abreast on all the latest greatest trends.  It also takes our time, cries for attention, and calls our name quietly and persistently often at the expense of others and time well spent.




At SLO Classical Academy, we often remind each other to resist the urge to be on our devices.  Why?  Is it because we have some weird thing against modern progress?  Are we afraid of technology? Do we like being behind the times?  Don't we want our kids to learn to be cutting edge?  Do we spurn new ways of thinking and the benefits those little metal and plastic gadgets can provide?


The overarching answer to those questions isn't as easy as a simple "no."  Instead, the caution we give at the school is that regardless of what you think about technology, the time spent on it keeps us from time spent doing other things – good things, important things, life-altering things.


Let me list a few of the things that can get ignored, or at least put on the back burner, when technology controls us rather than us controlling it: Relationships.  Conversation.  Creative endeavors.  Play.  Reading.  The great outdoors.  Daily chores (I know, I know).  Learning.  Observing.  Questioning.  Games – with others.  Puzzles – the kind you touch.  Touching – the kind with people.  Exercise.  Rest.




And not only does technology drain time from those things that for centuries have been considered "good" for us, research reveals that those who spend a lot of time on devices end up with a brain scan that is eerily similar to that of an addict.  Yep, it's true.  And... the desire to learn reduces, grades tank, relationships suffer, moods plummet, the ability to concentrate crashes, and desire for all sorts of good things (see paragraph above) reduces... immensely.  


We love technology.  We enjoy it, we use it, we integrate it (only if it enhances true learning, however).  But we see it also as something to be approached with caution, utilized with care, and kept in its place.


We all have to decide for ourselves what "keeping it in its place" looks like in our homes.  At SLO Classical Academy, we have decided what it looks like on campus. We ask kids to keep their weapons away to create the space for learning and relating.  That's what we're about – learning – and that's what our focus will remain at school.  In addition, we will unashamedly encourage our community to step away from their devices in order to look up and not miss out on all the wonders of our lives.




Steve Jobs is supposed to have made the following comment at some point in his technology-focused life:  "I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates."  


Would you?  Please join us in creating space by being free of technology by 5:00 on Fridays!





Starting soon, Down Home will be setting aside a few Fridays to introduce you to our new-this-year SLOCA teachers and staff. We started this “Friday Faces” series last year and it was a hit, so we want to keep it updated with the new faces you’ll be seeing around campus. Meet them online and then welcome them when you see them around school! 


What's your take on keeping technology in its place? Leave a comment below to discuss, or to offer suggestions!



SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned websites or businesses.


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Categorized: Archive, Home Life

Priceless Playground Volunteers


{photo from SLOCA’s Flickr site}


No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another.

~Author Unknown


Over the summer we shared a little about the rewards of volunteering here at SLO Classical Academy, and the new requirement to serve 5 of your 15 volunteer hours each trimester either on the playground or at Fred and Betty’s. The focus then was on our thrift store and what to expect when you give your time there. 


Today we want to emphasize another essential and urgent area of need – playground duty. At the beginning of the school year we are especially in need of extra eyes on our kids, and we are so thankful for those of you who have signed up so far! We know this can be tricky for some families, but if it can work with your schedule it will provide a huge benefit for our kids and be rewarding for you as well. Parents with younger children can bring them along. 


Like we said previously on the blog, volunteering is not only vital to the operation of our school, it is also one of the best ways to get to know the kids on campus, to model the character traits that we are teaching them, and to build community by connecting with other parents and staff members. 


It’s an easy job – parents who volunteer on the playground might do any of the following:

  • Help kids follow the rules on the playground.
  • Be an extra set of eyes to keep our kids safe.
  • Provide minor first aid for scraped knees, etc.
  • Help them with snacks and lunch, with special attention given to food allergy awareness and keeping hands clean.
  • Help them learn to take care of our school by reminding them to pick up trash and equipment.
  • Help them resolve minor arguments, etc.
  • Engage them in games like four square, jump rope, basketball.
  • Be a part of our SLOCA community – get to know the kids your kids are playing with! 


{photo from SLOCA’s Flickr site}


In case you’re still not sure if this is something you want to give your time to, we leave you with a few testimonials from parents who have experienced the personal rewards of volunteering on the playground:


Lisa Merrill (Track A):

I am the quiet type of playground volunteer. The kids don't seek me out to unscrew their thermos lids or ask for a restroom pass. They look toward the more outgoing Ms. Adams. They probably don't know my name, but I know most of their names, who their friends are, and what game they like to play at recess.


What I have learned from watching the kids at recess and lunch is that boys and girls play differently. Most boys gravitate to the balls (though the flying disc took precedent in the field this year) and are very competitive. Girls tend to hang out in small groups and play four square or with the jump rope. When girls play with balls they are much less competitive and are more forgiving of a miss and allow a "re-do." 


The SLOCA kids also play very nicely with each other. They take turns, play fair, and are considerate of other's feelings. I have enjoyed being able to help out during recess and lunch. And since I have been on the playground for 4 years I have been able to watch this group of kids grow up. I notice when they get glasses or braces, when the girls start wearing make up and when they boys finally notice the girls. It has truly been an enjoyable experience to be on the playground every week.



{photo by Jaime Mickey}



Richard Jenei (Track B):

The benefits of volunteering at the playground were numerous.  I got a chance to see how my child interacted with his friends and fellow classmates which assisted with our communication.  My questions have become more than just the typical, "how was your day at school?" I feel that we now have greater connection. Lastly, I am provided with a rare opportunity to connect with other parents which you really do not have the ability to do when dropping off and picking up your child.  I really feel a sense of community as a result.



Brian and Mary Beth McCormac (Track B):

Volunteering at lunch has been an amazing opportunity to get to know our children's friends, classmates and their parents. We have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at lunch and we look forward to continuing it next year.



{photo from SLOCA’s Flickr site}



Paul Bischoff (Track A):

Being recognized by the kids is awesome, and knowing I'm adding a little positive to their lives through giving them protection while they play is very rewarding. The camaraderie with the other parents is also special, and connecting with them is what makes our school community what it is. 


Our school wouldn't be nearly as awesome as it is without the parental involvement, and volunteering is a huge part of that.



Robert Billington (Track B):

My daughter and I moved back to the Central Coast last year and I enrolled her at SLOCA. I volunteered almost everyday she was at school. It was a good way for me to meet other parents who were involved in their kids' education, the community and the future in general. Helping with the lunch hour/playground duties also gave me a look at where my daughter is headed with her education and friendships as I saw how other kids interacted together. I believe being involved in the community, and helping out where I can strengthens our community and is a positive influence for my daughter. I enjoy being that role model for my daughter and I love being so involved in her education. 



We extend our deepest thanks to all of our parent volunteers, and to those who shared their thoughts with Down Home today. We are so very grateful for your kindness and devotion to keeping our kids safe and making our school the special place that it is! Just like the quote says at the top, you are cherished!


Parents, we hope you are looking forward to getting out there and being part of the wonderful things happening at SLOCA by volunteering on the playground and at Fred and Betty’s this year.


For more information about volunteer hours, email the volunteer coordinator at For playground-specific questions, email our Playground Supervisor Ross Landgreen at


Click here for our Playground Duty google doc to sign up for a specific time. Or feel free to email Ross at the address above and he can put you on the schedule. Here is our playground schedule so you can find a time that works for you:


  • 10:15-10:30 - Kinder through Intermediate Recess
  • 11:15 - 11:55 - Middle School Lunch
  • 12:00 - 12:40 - Kinder - Intermediate Lunch
  • 1:30 - 1:40 - Kinder - Intermediate Recess


Thank you for your help with this important and priceless service! 



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Categorized: Archive, Character, On Campus

What’s for Lunch: Make Ahead Idea




Today is “What’s for Dinner Wednesday,” but with the start of the school year we can all use ideas for packing lunches!  Typically though, on Wednesdays Down Home will feature a recipe or food-related post designed to help with some aspect of feeding your family. Because feeding their bodies is as important as feeding their minds, and it’s a very real challenge we all face.


You’ll usually find dinner recipes here, but occasionally we will look at lunches, snacks, or special occasions. I (Jenny) enjoy cooking and have my own stash of favorite recipes, but I love to experiment a bit too. Typically I stick to easy, real-food, nutritious meals, and while I prefer to use local and organic products, I know this isn’t always possible so feel free to substitute as necessary. I will try to include a variety of recipes throughout the year, including vegetarian options, crock-pot meals, quick recipes, and favorite family classics.


Hopefully the meal ideas here will make the dinner time rush a little smoother, or maybe just give you a fresh idea when you’re in need of one. But if cooking isn’t really something you’re into, please feel no guilt, and feel free to pass them on by… or pass them along to a friend.


We welcome recipes from parents! Please email your favorite easy weeknight meal to Down Home any time during the year, and we just might use it on the blog!



On to today’s lunch idea! A friend shared this Make Ahead Cold Lunches post by Karrie from Happy Money Saver, and I think it’s pure genius. I plan to attempt it on a smaller scale. 


The idea is to prep a week’s worth of fruit, veggies, lunch meat, cheese, crackers, snacks, etc. (whatever you want your kids to take in their lunches) and keep them in bins labeled for lunches. Kids can grab from these when they fill their lunch boxes in the morning or the evening before. With a cold lunch bin in the fridge, and a dry lunch bin in the pantry, everything stays organized and ready to to be quickly assembled. Kids could even help prep for the week. 



She also has ideas for how to make ahead and freeze sandwiches, and how to use reusable containers instead of plastic baggies. Freezing leftovers would also work beautifully with this system… it can be adapted to your family’s needs and preferences. 


Click here for the full article with more ideas and photos.


I know we have some clever moms out there – how do you simplify the lunchbox routine in you home? Please leave a comment and let’s create a forum of great lunch-packing tips! 



SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned website.


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Categorized: Archive, Food

Let Down Home Come To You




On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Down Home will typically post about topics such as homeschooling, home life, organization, classical education, enrichment ideas, and anything relating to our school/parent community. Lots of things fall into these two days, and if there’s something you’d like to see featured here, please email Down Home and let us know!


This being the first week of school, we are going to ease into things. Today we simply want to highlight the most convenient way to keep current with the blog, for those of you who are new or didn’t know about this previously:


Down Home can come to you! You don’t need to remember to check the blog or wonder if there’s anything new. Simply subscribe to Down Home via email and each time there is new content, you will receive a message right in your inbox letting you know what’s up on the blog.


Click here to subscribe – This link is also always found in the right column under the search bar. It’s orange and says “CLICK HERE to get Down Home posts delivered to your email inbox!” 


If you don’t want more email but you’re on Facebook regularly, you’ll also find links to each day’s blog post on our Facebook page




One less thing to remember is a good thing, right? We hope you’ll subscribe and/or follow us on Facebook, and never miss out on all that’s happening Down Home. 



SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned websites or businesses.


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Categorized: Archive, Community

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About Down Home

Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy's blog! We are a classical school offering options to make education work for families. We have a full hybrid program for grades K-8, which means two days at school with three days of home education, all days following the classical model and curricula carefully laid out by the school. We also have a four day program available for grades 5-8. Our high school students attend school three days each week. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home. Semper discentes - always learning together.

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