Friday, November 15, 2013

Growing Your Homeschool . . . Co-op

Tuesday, the kids and I went to our final day at the homeschool co-op until the spring semester. The girls loved their classes this semester as they embarked on exciting journeys in classes, like World Missions, PE/Health, Backyard Critters, and Art.

Our homeschool co-op has been such a blessing. It is  new co-op, this semester only being it's second program, and we've been involved since the beginning. I even taught a creative writing class this semester (and plan to teach one next semester, along with another class).

These are the ways my family have benefited from attending a homeschool co-op:

1. Meeting new friends: We've only been in Kentucky for about 16 months now, and at the time we started with the co-op, it had only been 7 months. We live outside the city limits, so there are very few opportunities for any of us to make friends, outside of going to church. The homeschool co-op gave us the chance to connect with people who have similar lifestyles and were going through the same things we were.

2. Our homeschool is pretty laid back, so it was a great place for the kids to learn without feeling pressure to "do well." They just had fun, but learned a lot in the process. You should hear the girls talking about the animals they learned about (or got to hold) in their Backyard Critters class, or the ways they can better take care of themselves after a fun Health class.

3. It gives the kids a chance to learn from other teachers. When they grow up, or if they ever go to school,
Mommy will not be their teacher. Other people will not teach the same way I do, and the kids need to realize that. Also, there are things other people can teach with more expertise than I have. What a joy that we can share our strengths with others. For the older kids, I am able to share my knowledge of writing and fiction, helping them to draw on their creativity and life stories.

4. Some weeks, we may not go out otherwise. I don't know when it happened, but at some point I became kind of a homebody. It probably happened when I had two tiny girls, who were practically twins. It made going out to do simple stuff like grocery shopping such a chore. Then, I just got used to being home a lot. The co-op gives me an obligation to get out and do something.

5. Field Trips! We get some great deals either because we're a large group or because we are specifically a homeschool group. Our Field Trip coordinator has awesome ideas. We've been to Dinosaur World, the Creation Museum, a couple of different kinds of farms, visited an Amish community, and just gone to the park to have some fun.

There are many other smaller blessings, but those are the main ones.

Now, am I saying every homeschool family needs to rush out and join/start a homeschool co-op? NO! Co-ops are not for everyone. If you are looking at homeschool co-ops, make sure to find one that fits your family. Although a co-op is a conglomeraation of different types of people/families, some tend to be more formal, some less formal, some focus on academics while others offer "extras" (like sewing, instrument lessons, cooking, etc.). We subscribe to the "a little bit of something or everybody" motto.

*The top photo is the kids with some friends on the last day of co-op. The second is one of the other moms doing a science experiment with soda and mentos... And the last is my family at the Creation Museum, one of the many fun field trips we've done with the co-op.

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