Yesterday, my children and I were finally able to witness the fruit of months of labor. I’ve been organizing a homeschool co-op for students in or near my town. I won’t lie. It’s been stressful at times. But overall I feel like the results were worth all of the work.
Our co-op works like this:
We will meet once a month for a morning of classes at the Wilderness Station, a lovely little place set in the woods at a local park. This building and the learning environment created around it is a wonderful resource which my family takes advantage of on a regular basis. Last school year Hunter, my oldest child, took a monthly class at the Wilderness Station. We liked it so much and we were so impressed with the quality of the information he gained that he will be retaking the class next year with his sister. So when my friend who was helping me get the co-op started suggested the location when another one fell through, it made perfect sense to me.
The group will also meet once a month for field trips. Our first field trip at the end of August is a hula hooping and creative movement workshop. I mean, how awesome is that? Occasionally we’ll also meet up at local parks for play dates, on weeks when we aren’t otherwise in class or on a field trip. This will help the children get to know one another a little better and foster stronger bonds. It is our intention for the children and the parents in co-op to create a sense of community.
Our classes were held for the first time yesterday. I went in expecting there to be several hiccups and kinks to be worked out. While it took us a few minutes to get into the groove, it all came together just fine. Frankly, much better than I would have expected even. I’m excited that it seemed to go well and I hope this means we’ll keep it up and running for a while. I’m already looking forward to next semester.
We divided the classroom in half using an accordion door partition in the center of the room that we rented from the Wilderness Station. One half of the room was for the preschool class. The other half was for the “school aged” class.
My youngest child, Drayken, participated in the preschool class. He did a craft, had story time, enjoyed a snack, and had fun playing with his classmates at the nature playground recently built by the staff at the Wilderness Station.
My other two children, Hunter and Ronin, were excited to start their new classes at co-op. Some old friends (who we met three years ago when both of our families were walking the leukemia/bone marrow transplant journey together) and some new friends are also involved with co-op. And of course they were excited about the potential future friends as well.
Our school aged children are participating in three different hour long classes.
First period is basic hand sewing. Yesterday they learned to thread a needle using a threader, how to wind their thread around a little card for easier access, how to use chalk to mark off the lines of their project, and how to sew on a button. The final result of this first project will be a felt book for holding their needle and thread.
Second period is a history/show and tell class. For the first day, to serve as an ice breaker, we allowed all children to bring in an object that would help tell us a little something about their own personal history. Ronin brought her Barbie phone which represented her imaginary friends (she uses the Barbie phone to call them). She told everyone about Sarah, Ashley, Larry, Kyle, and Anushaneegu. And how most of them are in jail. Okay then. Hunter brought in his radiation mask and his two different lines (Port and Hickman) and used them to help him talk about when he had leukemia. This was hard for me to hear… I’ve never heard him talk so openly and honestly about his cancer experience before. I had to walk to the back of the room to compose myself.
Our hands-on-history class is going to be a lot of fun. We were told that this semester we’ll get to meet with a real live historian. We’ll be able to look through a trunk from the local state museum. And we’ll have a chance to look at photos from our city’s history as well. Good stuff.
Third period is a nature class. Yesterday’s class focused on identifying trees. The students learned about leaves, talked about the importance of trees, took advantage of the wilderness station’s gorgeous surroundings and explored the tree covered area near the building, and then learned how to do rubbings with leaves in their notebooks.
Once our classes were over, several of the families met at the playground and had lunch together. This gave the children a chance to play and it gave the moms an opportunity to chat. Which I personally enjoyed very much. The socializing after the co-op, I think, is going to be vital in helping the children form important bonds with one another. We stayed much later than I expected us to. Until 3pm, actually. Everyone was just having such a great time we hated to break up the party.
Everyone in my house is looking forward to getting together with the group again.