Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Co-op Love

We've participated in homeschooling co-ops for around 15 years. Our first was with other military families in NM when our oldest were smaller than our youngers are now. We've started our fair share of co-ops and class days along the way, from small in-home studies with a few families to large enrichment programs, as well as smaller, more academically focused groups that were methodologically oriented.

Our last foray into starting something was a University Model School, which fell apart with our house fire. My heart is still there, but not for this season. Partly, cause this season is so good. I get many of the same benefits of UMS, without much of the work! We are involved in a Homeschooling Fellowship group that runs both a co-op and an academic class day- 2 fer. After the fire, Dr. Dh made the executive decision that we were going "back" to this well established group that we had been part of years before starting stuff ourselves. It's been a great home-coming.

On Fridays the kids have chorale, art and a unit study. Unit studies have ranged from geography to biology (dissection in 4th grade!), to personal finance, to Latin. Chorale is led by true blue musicians, and includes rounds, patriotic songs, Latin hymns, and instruction in theory. Art is taught by artist Mom's who challenge and inspire the kids, who bring home skills and projects worthy of hanging, wearing or displaying!

Tutoring Center is a seperate day a week and includes academic classes. Homework is assigned and expected, fees paid, and grades given, along with tests and projects. The teachers are professionals in the homeschooling and wider community and range from writing and science, to government and poetry.
This only leaves 3 days a week to work at home. The days that we are home, the kids are focused and intentional about getting work done. I know the adage, "If you're not at home, you are not homeschooling." And I think that can be true.

 But I also think that creating an edcuational environment that works for your family is about utilizing the resources that you have available. For us, with older, more responsible kids, this schedule works out beautifully. Car rides to and from town are spent reading, napping, chatting and drawing. I have grand plans to throw in an audio book or two but so far it hasn't materialized. Caitilin contiues to whet my appetitie with tantalizing tales of good reads on tape, so it might happen yet!

The key to a co-op, class-day environment that works for you is to find one with a culture that you can live with. In other words, do the parents and kids have the same core values that you do? We are in a group of very intentional people of faith. While some of the details of our lives differ, we have a basisc understanding of where folks are coming from.

Are the participants like-minded? By that I mean are you the lone draconian homeschooler amonst a bevy of radical unschoolers, or vice-versa?
Are other parents clear about expected behavior from the kids? One of the things I really appreciate about the group that we are with is that it IS a community of faith. We all have very similar expectations regarding our kids behavior in areas of respect, diligence, reverence, etc.
Are the other parents clear about what is expected from them? Do they show up when they say they will?  Are they prepared? Are they contributors or merely client/consumers?

Homeschooling is a challenging, and potentionally lonely road. Finding a group of like minded educators to walk the trail with is worth the time, energy and dedication required!
Bottom line: Co-op can be the very best of homeschooling times.
Find other homeschooling co-opers over at
Winecup Christian Academy


Sarah Small said...

I can't even imagine homeschooling without our fabulous co-op! It has been a lifeline to hundreds of families. It is interesting to me how many locals I know who "don't need a co-op" end up giving up on homeschooling...

Mary Prather said...

I agree with Sarah. We love our co op dearly!! You made so many great points in this post!