This may seem like an odd thing to any who really know me. 🙂 Being that I often speak to my love of being at home, and my rather introverted nature, why on earth would I decide I need a co-op?
The general definition of a cooperative homeschool group – aka co-op – is to “cooperate” with one or more families thus sharing any part of the educational process. A co-op can be a simple group of two families meeting regularly to share their home journey on any particular topic or as structured as a school district public program or charter group (think Classical Conversations). Co-ops can have an academic focus or a social, spiritual one – even a combination of all of these!
Since we started homeschooling almost 5 years ago we have been in and out of various groups ourselves. I admit, I tend to dread these encounters. So many moms and children – I love the variety of ages and activities. All the sweet families we have met but we have never truly felt at home, a part of any of these groups. i do not fault any of them for it. I do believe that finding a group that is “family” in the homeschool community is a hard thing. It does not just happen and I think often we can be a part of many different groups and still not find that.
So when I was approached by a couple lovely ladies from our church about starting a group I was quite ecstatic. Especially since I have been praying for someone to do this very thing since we came to our church almost 4 years ago. Yet now here I am being approached to do just that. And since this request was first made, even more ladies have come to me seeking a group for their children too. How exciting! And nerve-wracking (for me) 🙂
I decided to do it. This year, I decided to start my own informal co-op this fall. So far there will be lots of little ones so we definitely need to make plans for preschool fun! Of course there will also be a variety of older youth involved too. Just a handful of us for now but I do believe the Lord will send them if we are faithful and true to Him in what we do.
So what does this have to do with why I need a co-op?
I have to admit, I cannot do this alone. It gets tiring. Especially as my children get older. It is too easy to burnout when we are isolated from others in this thing. It doesn’t have to be often, maybe once a week (we can determine that based on everyone’s interest) but that time just needs to be there, If we are tired, struggling, or even excited about something – it’s a blessing to others and to us to be able to share!
And how about that dreaded “socialization”? We are always being asked about it right? How do our kids socialize when we homeschool them? I cannot keep telling people (sarcastically) that they don’t … I know, without any doubt, that we are all equipped by God to teach our children. Yet I admit, I fail at math, I do not speak Spanish and I certainly cannot dissect a frog…. That said it’s a great benefit when we can come together to share our specific talents with one another. It’s great for our children to see too, how we all come together and share our talents. Add to that, the opportunity for them to share their skills with one another, and practice other things. My oldest son loves to give short presentations and story tell yet is fearful of being in front of a group, playing games is great for social skills and often so much more, doing crafts or projects is more fun in a group, playing soccer or football, or just being present and helping cook or clean or play with the littler ones (my oldest reads to his little sisters), this is a beautiful way to encourage them, and be sure that they are gaining positive social skills and experiences.
Then there are all the great discounts and classes we can partake in, when we have a group 🙂 Events at the zoo, local art classes, cooking classes, even craft materials and books. We can work together, pool our resources and have a great time doing so. Less pressure on everyone when we are not all responsible for every detail. How fun is it too to be able to bake cookies or thrown parties for the holidays together – There are so many holidays, so many ways that we can learn in a fun and engaging way. And it’s always better when its done together.
Accountability….Who doesn’t love the flexibility of homeschooling? I do for sure! But I also admit that meeting regularly with other homeschooling families can help me to stay focused and on course. To have others that I know are learning with us, are exploring with us, this gives us something to look forward to. It keeps us on task. No excuses anymore because it’s not just about us and we can’t just do it later.
As for us moms we always have lots of crazy and fun ideas to share; we have a variety of interests and connections and sharing all of this can certainly be a huge help to each other in this journey that we call homeschool!
Ecc. 4:9-12: Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up…..And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.