March 31, 2005

The End of Co-op

As many of you know for the past few months we have been participating in a country co-op with other families from our homeschool support group. It has been a positive experience. We have learned about the geography, flag, food, language, customs, festivals, dress, history, government, animals and inventions of each country. We have eaten at restaurants, visited museums and done a wide variety of activities. The kids each kept a passport and received a stamp for visiting Israel, Iraq, China, Thailand, and Japan. We also started with a month focusing on the United States as a baseline for the kids (and the teachers).

We have brought coop to an end however for a variety of reasons. I would recommend it to anyone and I will miss doing this in a group format. My kids and I have enjoyed this so much that we will be continuing the study of a country each month on our own. We will cover much of the same ground as we did in coop just in our own family and I will continue to record the studies here. There will be less group activities and that will change things but also more freedom for us to tailor it directly to the needs of our own family members.

As with any co-op you do lose some freedom and flexibility in order to receive the benefits of shared responsibility and group experiences. Now I will have more work to do but more flexibility as well. We will miss the group activities but be able to do more specific things.

If you have a group of families that want to work together I recommend the country format. It was easy to do, fun and educational. You can look through my archives for our past lessons or feel free to drop me an email if you are thinking about starting one and have questions.

If you don't have any other families but are intrigued by the idea I invite you to join us as we move through each country each month. I will be taking off the month of April I think to organize what countries we will be doing next and start back up in May, this is one I think we will do year round.



  1. Anonymous10:05 PM

    Hi Tenn

    Would you mind answering a few questions about your geography co-op for me?
    I'd love to know if you had a spine or resource list you used in developing your program. We are considering doing something similar with another family and I've been looking for some resources to get us started.
    Also - if you wouldn't mind sharing what worked well and what sorts of suggestions you would make to a group just starting this type of program I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance
    Karen in Ont from WTM boards

  2. Karen,

    Didn't see an email for you so I hope you check back here.

    We did not use a single or steady resource for our program. We developed it by discussing what aspects of a country we would like to see covered and then divided up the weeks in a logical way. Each family took one week and kept that same week for the year so they could be consistent and learn from their past weeks. This format worked well as you quickly learned where to go for your resources.

    The basic format for finding research was to check out a wide selection of books from the country the month before and go through them. The children's non-fiction section is a great place to start. I particularly enjoyed the "Welcome to my Country" and "True Book" series. They were easy to read to the kids and had a good amount of important information. I would say on a typical month I would consult 5-10 country specefic books. However, I acknowledge I have an excellent public library system and access to two large county library systems.

    After going through the books I would also use google. Typing "Japan lesson plan" was a good starting point - then I would refine by age if I needed to. I would read others lessons and adapt for the needs of our group.

    I also consulted the official government website for the country, the embassy sites and sometimes travel sites for the country. I am planning on contacting the embassies as well for the next group of countries we do.

    To a group starting this I would suggest the following.

    1. Open and honest communication about your desires and expectations. Both in terms of time commitment, academic level and division of responsibility.

    2. Clear and specefic goals. Each month we will learn the following....

    3. Consistency. Learning the same things about each country helps in a variety of ways. It gives the kids an understanding of what to expect. It helps the parents in lesson planning. It allows and fosters easy comparing and contrasting between countries.

    4. Sticking with one continent and learning about different countries within this continent. Makes the geography easier - only one continent and helps show ow things can be similar and very different in a single region.

    4. Keeping it fun. The kids seemed to get the most our of weeks where we had fun activities that they could participate in.

    5. Reread my archives - on the sidebar you will find overviews of the weeks we did the USA, Israel, Iraq, China, Thailand and Japan.

    6. Keep a binder for each child to keep all their resources in. Use plastic sheet protectors so they can go back trhough and look at all their work without damaging it. It promotes comparing and contrasting.

    Those are some to start with - if you have specefic questions please email me at NOSPAMtenniel@NOSPAMgmail.comNOSPAM (removing the NOSPAM)


  3. Anonymous3:10 PM


    Thank you so much for this! It's exactly the type of information I was after and will be really helpful. I appreciate the time you took to type it all out for me.
    Thanks again