December 12, 2005

Homeschool Coop Showcase

Over the years we have been members of several homeschool support groups and coops. The one we are a part of this year is far and above our best group. It is like finally coming home to an extended family with similar goals and values and a LOT of kids.

We have approximately 70 families and too many kids to count. It seems that many of the families have 3 or 4 kids so you can do the math. At first I was intimidated by this number but we have developed some closer friendships and still enjoy the entire group.

I jumped right in, having joined just last May - I volunteered to help coordinate and establish a field trip committee for this group. Along with 5 other women we have just planned around 15 field trips a month for the months of Jan-May. I am excited for this. More details to come as we attend the trips.

The most exciting part for our family has been joining the Coop portion of this group (which is both a support group and a cooperative). The group is very well organized and established even though the coop part is only in its third year. I want to share a bit about the cooperative. For those of you interested in starting one this format is an excellent one for a larger group.

The group is divided into four main age groups. Birth-2 in the nursery, 3-4 year olds in a class, 5-1st grade in another class, 2-4th grade in one group, 5-8th grade in another group. The older two groups divide up into smaller classes and choose from different elective classes. We have a three hour day, with three sessions. Each parent teaches or assists in two hours and has one hour off to visit with and support other moms. Some dads also teach or assist in the coop in a variety of ways.

We recently ended our first semester with this group. We had one child in each of the first three age groups and none in the older two. Our kids classes were set in format. First hour they had a literature based book loosely following a Five in a Row format. With age appropriate lessons and activities. Second hour they had music, arts and crafts and a snack. Third hour they had a PE type class. My kids really enjoyed their classes and started to develop relationships through them.

Rhiannon's highlights from her class as she dictates to me - Reading about Robert Frost and the Snowy Woods, playing at gym class, snack time, making new friends, making a sculpture of London, singing Sunbeam, making my Thanksgiving centerpiece, and reading Cranberry Thanksgiving. I had fun at everything.

Ciaran's highlights from his class as he recalls them - My favorite book was about Jesus and the Candy Canes, my favorite craft was making blueberry buckets, making a manger with graham crackers and marshmallows, and marching around Jericho to make the walls come down.

To highlight some of the other classes offered at the end of the semester the coop offers a showcase where each class stands up and demonstrates or discusses some of the things they learned. This is very fun as we see all the coop offered and accomplished in a few short months. Rhiannon especially enjoyed seeing all the classes offered and can not wait to be able to choose her own electives and try out some of the different classes.

This past semester the coop offered a wise variety of classes including drama, knitting, purse making, science experiments, chemistry, math games, fleece projects, literature class on Betsy Tacy, Backyard Ballistics (building different kinds of projectile items), and Contenders for the Faith (a boys practical life skill and spiritual discipline class - excellent). There were others I am forgetting but you certainly get the idea.

At the showcase each class came up and demonstrated what they made (knitting, fleece, purse making, Backyard Ballistics, etc), what they learned (Contenders, math, science experiments, Betsy Tacy, etc). Rhiannon's favorites were the drama classes (which gave dramatic presentations and did a dance) and the Chemistry one which played a game with a circuit they built and had the audience match elements to their symbols. Ciaran's favorite was backyard ballistics, especially when they shot marshmallows into the audience with a projectile they made. There were also PE classes for the older kids and a class called Snack Servants - where the students made and served all the kids in the coop (over 100) snacks for the day.

It was amazing to see how well this worked and all that the kids and teachers were able to accomplish. More than what they learned though is the community that they are building. Sitting at the showcase I saw a group of about 9 boys in the preteen age (I am guessing 12-13 range) who are clearly a community of friends after three years in the same classes. Even my kids after just a few sessions have developed friends and sat with them in the general assemblies.

One memory from our coop that is burned into my mind is Rhiannon going to coop the week she realized she had to have her tonsils out. She was very nervous and uncomfortable about it. She went up to a few of the moms she knows there and explained what was going to happen and asked if they would please be praying for her. She felt comfortable enough with these women to ask that and with the children in the group as well. That is building community, that is an excellent coop.

I am so thankful that we were led to this group and have been accepted with open arms here.



  1. Cool site. I like the style. Have a happy new year. Take care

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience with a co-op. We are getting ready to start one and your information is invaluable.