Friday, August 3, 2012
Can You Count on Co-ops?
You think you get asked the socialization question all the time? Try being the mother of an only child. While I score nearly all the possible points for "introverted" on those personality tests, my son could grow up to be a Wal-mart greeter. I'm always looking for ways for him to meet up/learn with other kids.
Our first year in Missouri we belonged to two co-ops. One met each week and had scheduled classes, just like school. Schnickelfritz took Spanish (something I couldn't teach since I learned French), choir, and cup-stacking (okay, I logged it as P.E. but it was mostly for fun). The other co-op met bi-monthly for a pitch-in lunch and then activities based on a theme--on Apple day we made applesauce and stamped art by applying paint to apple halves. One time each family made a presentation on a country of their choosing.
Then a sad thing happened--the churches that we met in were suffering economically. They both wanted us to pay, or pay more for use of the facilities. That was tough to do since most of us were one income families to begin with. One co-op moved to a smaller church, but it didn't give us enough classroom space. The other tried meeting at the park or in a municipal center but we couldn't actually reserve the sites for our use. Bottom line--they both died.
We do keep a Yahoo group for the homeschooling families in the area. Occasionally someone will come up with a field trip idea and we'll work together to meet up. Of course, the lack of face to face contacts make those obligations easy to break. One mom of 10 organized an apple butter cooking day and my son and I were the only other family to show up.
Last year I had a very small co-op of sorts. Another mom and I took turns hosting the experiments for Apologia's Land Animals of the Sixth Day. I really needed that accountability of meeting bi-weekly to keep us on our reading schedule for science.
This year we're trying another school-like co-op. For ten weeks we have four hours of classes available for differing age groups. Every parent that wants their children to participate must teach (or at least help) in a class or do nursery duty. I'll be doing hands-on science for 3rd to 6th gradersusing the Science of Disney Imagineering DVDs. Look for me to post about this during the fall.
To sum up my experience--a co-op is only as good as its committed participants. When one mom is doing the bulk of the work, she gets burnt out and things stall until another enthusiastic mom arrives on the scene. I'm hoping that this forced sharing of the load will increase the lifespan of our newest endeavor.
Of course. these are just our co-op experiences. Be sure to check out some of the other blogs below.