Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's a Co-Op?

One thing that spurred my decision to home school was visiting a local home school co-op for a couple hours about this time last year. A friend was a member and suggested that I come see what they do. I didn't want just another "play group". I wanted some classes for my kids that would enhance what I was able to do here at home. I showed up a bit skeptical that I would only find families with 12 kids, moms and daughters who only wore dresses and had hair down to their knees. Surely they would all bake their own bread and raise goats as well, right?
Well, that wasn't what I saw. Yes, there were some families that had 6 kids, but there were plenty of families with 2 or 3 kids as well. No one was selling bread and no one smelled like goats. I specifically remember being brought to silent tears when I sat and watched a group of 1st graders in class. Seeing them interacting "normally" with one another and they all seemed so happy. I had the thought that "I can do this." I was immediately put on the waiting list for the group and was thrilled when we got the call in July that they had room for our girls.
Our co-op meets every other Tuesday. The two older girls go into classes with kids their age. The classes are about 45 minutes each. They include gym (something I can't do at home), art (something I don't really want to do at home - I hate getting all the stuff out for painting, cutting, etc.), oceanography for my 1st grader, character education for both girls, Zoology for our oldest, the human body for the 1st grader. Really great classes. Of course the girls don't love all the classes, but they wouldn't love all the classes in public school either.
Sissy specifically has made some friends (the "socialization" issue was a big part of my fear of homeschooling and Sissy had several really good friends in public school, as my quiet one, I was afraid it would frustrate her to not know anyone at co-op). One friend she has made lives close to us and the two of them really enjoy hanging out. The co-op had an end of the semester pizza party in December for the kids and moms. That gave us a nice chance to hang out with the other home schooling families. We have gone on some field trips as well (a dairy farm, a local theatre) and yesterday we had a Valentines party.
We met at Jeepers, which is a glorified Chuck-E-Cheese. This place has rides (including a small roller coaster), pizza and games. The kids were really excited because we don't go to places like this, hardly ever. They are so expensive! Our co-op paid the fee for every child (there were about 60 of them there) from our tuition. What a great way to spend the day!

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