03 August 2012

To Co-op or Not to Co-op?

It's the final day of the Back-to-Homeschool Blog Hop!  What a fun week it's been!  I hope you've been having fun, too.  If you are just now catching up with the Hop you can check out Day 1: *Homeschooling Methods* here, Day 2: *Homeschooling Curriculum* here, Day 3: *Homeschool Planning* here, and Day 4: *Homeschool Rooms* here.  

(Brainteasers Class)

Today we're talking about Co-ops~in other words, homeschool cooperative classes.  Co-ops have been a big part of our homeschool experience for over 3 years now.  We have been a part of them with two different homeschool groups, in two different states.

Co-ops are not classes meant to take the place of your own curriculum at home or to teach your core subjects.  Co-ops are homeschool families coming together to offer classes in subjects they are passionate about and enjoy sharing.  A great co-op can be a fun, enriching, extra-curricular addition to your homeschool.  

(music class)

The first time we participated in a co-op I was hooked!  It was such a great experience with so many benefits.  The kids learn to function well in a group setting, how to take turns, learn from someone other than their mom, get a chance to take classes that may not work in their home setting and so much more.  And don't forget the bonus of having all those fellow homeschool moms to hang out with!

(Recorder Class)

Not every co-op is, or has to be, the same.  There are so many ways to do one!  The two that we have been a part of are different in many ways. 

Our first co-op took place for 3 hours on Friday afternoons for 8 weeks in the Fall semester and then again for 3 hours on Friday mornings for 8 weeks in the Spring semester.  They rotated mornings and afternoons so that some families could at least participate in one co-op session a year--some could only do mornings, some could only do afternoons.  Thankfully, we were able to do either and could always participate.  

We were able to choose the classes we wanted for each hour (sometimes we had to take a 2nd choice if the class filled up, it was first come-first served), with there being about 3 choices per age group--K5/lower elem, middle school, jr/sr high, etc. (sort of like choosing college classes).  Over the course of two years we enjoyed classes such as Worms, Little Pilgrim's History, Crafts, Speech, Horses, Music, Legos Action Contraptions, Early Math/Early Reading, Book Club, Blood & Guts, and more.  

(Science Experiments Class)

Our second co-op experience with our current homeschool group has been different and yet just as rewarding.  This co-op was, in fact, just started last semester by a mom new to the group and new to the area--our group (of which I was new to also) had never had a co-op before.  I was so happy that someone was starting one because we were missing our former group's co-op terribly!  

This co-op has a slightly different format.  We meet on Friday mornings for 6 weeks each quarter and offer four 50-minute classes.  Every student enrolled takes every class, rotating within a group of their own age/grade.  Last semester we had classes such as Science in the Kitchen, Art Appreciation, Etymology, Brainteasers, Sign Language, Choir, Science Experiments, and Bible Trivia.  Very fun classes!

I decided to give teaching a co-op class a whirl in the 4th quarter of last year (Art Appreciation) and really did have fun with it.  This format is a bit more challenging to me in that a parent must prepare for 4 class periods and 4 different age groups--as opposed to the above format where a parent would simply prepare for the individual class they were teaching for one period.  With art this new format wasn't as challenging as it could be with other subjects though--and I had great assistant moms who really helped--so it was a great class to gain planning experience in.  I'm looking forward to teaching a class or two again this year.  

(building Lego Action Contraptions)

I'm looking forward to starting our 1st quarter of co-op classes in just a couple of weeks!  We'll be studying the Constitution, Creative Writing, the Parables of Jesus, and Muscles & Fitness.  

Co-ops have truly enriched our homeschool experience.  My children always look forward to their classes, seeing their friends, learning in a different environment and doing things that may not always be possible at home.  Parents, however, are the key to co-ops.  Without parents participating, teaching, helping, cleaning, etc. co-op classes can't happen.  When parents are willing to work together for the good of the students great things can happen though.  Co-ops can be as small as a couple of families in a home or as big as you can make them happen, but it's all about *Cooperation* :)  I definitely encourage you to look into trying a co-op if you have one available locally, or maybe consider starting one with a fellow homeschool family or two.  I realize that there are no perfect co-ops (because there are no perfect people) and I don't mean to paint too rosy of a picture here since both of our co-op experiences have been good.  However, co-ops have been a huge blessing to our family so I highly recommend them overall.

Remember we're blog hopping this week, so hop over to some of the blogs listed below and see what else they have to say about co-ops.  

BacktoHomeschool

1 comment:

John and Allie Fields said...

This will be our first time at co-op. I can't wait for it to start in September!