Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Homeschool Co-ops

When I first began looking into homeschooling, I found out about a local homeschool co-op that met near my home.   At the time I was pregnant with my third, and didn't want to take on too much, so decided I should wait to get involved with a co-op.  Well as it got closer and closer to the fall I suddenly had a change of mind.  I wanted my girls to have opportunities to make new friends (just like they would if they were going to public school) and experience a classroom environment.  So I contacted the local co-op (the night before their orientation day) and asked if they could squeeze us in for the fall?  And they said YES!

Being apart of our co-op has been a huge blessing and offers so many benefits.  It may not be for everyone, but I wanted to share reasons to consider getting plugged into a local co-op.   We are involved with First Class Homeschool Ministries.  If you don't see one in your area click here to learn how you can start one. 

Here are the benefits of a Homeschool Co-op:
1) Friendships with other homeschool families (for yourself and your children).
2) Someplace fun you can look forward to going to each week and have a break from the home.
3) Gives your kids a chance to be in a classroom atmosphere and learn to take instruction from someone other than their parents. They also learn how to share, interact with their peers and be a friend.
4) Co-op field trips are so much fun!
5) You have an opportunity to get involved and teach things you are passionate about to not only your own kids but others as well! 
6) If you are weak in a particular subject another homeschooling parent can teach that subject!
7) Fees are very minimal!
8) Your child has a reason to pack a school lunch (we always stay afterwards and eat lunch with other families).
9) You get to gleam ideas from others, share/trade curriculum, give and receive encouragement!
10) It is a great support system and helps you to not feel alone in your decision to homeschool!

I also want to mention that a Homeschool Co-op may NOT be right for your family if:
1) You were hoping it is a place to DROP-OFF your children.  Parents must take resonsibility for teaching or helping in some capacity.
2) You already have an overabundance of commitments and this would create more stress for your family.
3) If you have babies/toddlers who still nap and you are not flexible about their napping schedule.

Our Co-op has grown steadily every semester I have been there.  We now have over 80 families.  I have made so many incredible friends and so have my girls.   Some of the fun classes my oldest has enjoyed over the past few years are: Container Gardening, Girls just wanna dance, A human body class, 7 Continents, God's Little Princesses, a science class and a Mother Goose class. 

I also had my first opportunity to teach a class this past session.  I taught a class for 6-8 year olds called "Adventures on Circle C Ranch", which centered around a series of beginner chapter books.  The books are about a little girl named Andi, who lives on a horse ranch in the late 1800's.  We would read a few of the short chapters each week followed by coloring, activities, crafts, and games.  The website offers free coloring pages and activity packs.  I bought all my crafts at Oriental Trading Company.  The kids in my class loved it so much that I am continuing the class in the fall with more books in the series!

Being apart of our local co-op has been a wonderful addition and enhanced our homeschool experience!!