Friday, December 28, 2012

Counting on Co-ops - a look back

Photobucket Last Fall, during the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop, I wrote a piece about counting on co-ops.   I mentioned that we had participated in two in the past.  Truthfully, Schnickelfritz participated and I sat gabbing with the other moms.  Oh, I occasionally did a science presentation but for the most part I reaped the benefits without putting in the effort.  At the end of the post I mentioned that we had another co-op opportunity and this time I would be teaching a class based on the Science of Disney Imagineering Dvd's that we love.  For 10 weeks we spent the bulk of our Thursdays at a little church-based co-op.  So here are some of my thoughts now that we have a semester under our belts.

1. As much pressure as I feel making sure that I'm providing the best education for my son, it's that much worse worrying about providing for other folk's sons and daughters.  I agonized for weeks if the hands-on activities would be fun yet educational.  Would they be too hard or too simplistic.  I made up quiz sheets to help students remember key points as they watched the videos.  I think that most of the other moms felt this way too.  Schnickelfritz's Mapping the World by Heart teacher always had handouts and fun games for memorizing the names of countries.  The kindergarten class that met before mine had three hardworking moms organizing crafts every week. 

Studying friction on an icy slope
2. I was amazed at how draining  it was to be away from home for so long.  Fritz's first class started at 11:30, then we had lunch, two more classes, and then drove to the country to pick up our fresh milk.  We'd be gone for 5.5-6 hours including drive times.  And the organization involved--Fritz would need books and materials for three classes, I'd need a DVD and experiment supplies to teach mine, we had to pack lunches and I needed a cooler and containers for the dairy.   Just five years ago  I was used to being at work 8 hours every day, and I had to pack my lunch and all Fritz's things for daycare.  And  now I started dreading my Thursdays starting Wednesday night.  When we loaded back in the car after my science class finished it felt like TGIF.   Some of the other co-op teachers mentioned similar feelings.

Learning about levers
3. On a positive note, knowing our Thursdays were full of outside activities made me that much more committed to staying on track the other schooldays.  It was just the accountability factor I needed. If I ever felt like slacking in one subject, the first thought that would pop into my head was "You've already lost Thursday, you can't afford another," and then we'd forge full steam ahead.  I had already made most subjects fall into a four-day schedule (we did still do Bible and math on Thursdays before co-op).   

Eureka! We have a circuit
4. Schnickelfritz got a boost of self esteem when he saw he could keep up (even surpass) the older kids in his geography class.  It was listed for 5th-8th grade and he's only ten, but he has a passion for maps so the teacher gave him a chance.  I was pleased to see him behave and listen so well (I guess because he's interested in the subject matter) and he's often the only one who has completed the memory homework each week.  You try memorizing all the countries on all the continents sometime!   So far he's even been able to deal with his perfectionist tendencies when it comes time to practice drawing the maps--I'd expected him to be frustrated that he couldn't draw every boundary exactly right. 

My Hands-on Science class
The bottom line--I asked Fritz if he wanted to continue co-op next semester and he enthusiastically said "Yes!"  His Mapping the World by Heart class is continuing (we still have Asia and Africa to do).  He's switching from Prairie Primer to a boys' book club reading The Hobbit.   And because there we've been through all the Disney Imagineering DVD's and there aren't enough new kids to offer the class again, I'll be switching to a Championship Chess class.  I've already got all the books/DVD's and I made my own demonstration board--but that's another post.

So my look back on 2012 covered our first real co-op experience.  Other Crew members will have their own experiences to share.  Be sure to check out the first Blog Cruise of the new year, 2012: A Look Back  on Jan. 1st. 


Bethany said...

Wishing you blessings in 2013! Following from the crew.

Milk and Honey Mommy said...

I enjoyed reading through your co-op experience. I am at that point right now, deciding should we stay or should we go. I had already decided to not return and after reading your post, now believe I should reconsider. I taught writing to high school students and I wanted to be sure that they were learning something from my classes. Like you, the time away from our school at home was also an issue for me. Although our co-op is only half a day, I still want to be sure it is worth it - time away from home and are they really learning anything we can't do at home?

The preparation for my co-op class did make me more organized.

I'm doing the soup swap again next month.

Amanda Sikes said...

Loved these thoughts! I have just this year started a co-op in my area but we only meet once a month for now. Time spent outside of the house is always such a hard thing to balance isn't it!

Clarissa said...

I nominated you for The Liebster Award, visit my blog to read all about it!

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