Thursday, January 28, 2010

To Coop or not to Coop?

This has been the question for us since the beginning of the school year.  To Coop or not to Coop?  In our previous covering, we had Friday classes which could last anywhere from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.  You did not have a go all day but could take as many classes as you were allowed into.  They were enrichment classes that were good learning opportunities but generally fun in nature.  The other potential "plus" is that you could drop you child off and return to pick him/her up at the designated time.  Thus giving Mom some much needed time to run errands or do something fun, maybe by herself.  That is unless you were volunteering your time to teach one or two of the classes offered or helping out in the office. This arrangement seemed to work fairly well for us, Riley enjoyed the classes and got to know several of the children and I did get some good time to run errands or do lunch with someone.  I also taught a few of the classes which was fun too.

One draw back to the Friday classes was that usually around Thursday or so, we would get into a good swing of getting things done, attitudes were good, mom was motivated, Riley was motivated.  And then on Friday we had to set all we were working on aside and go to classes.  Generally by the time we got home after classes we were exhausted and certainly didn't want to finish up any remaining work that needed to be done.

When we changed coverings this past summer, (for several reasons-not having to do with classes) we switched to one that did a Coop instead of "Friday Classes".  I had never done a coop so I didn't know what to expect.  Although I was really recovering from a Long period of over committing myself and Riley and our time.  I was really trying to make a change in that area, so after some prayer I began to feel that the Lord was leading us to just stay home.  That was a little bit of a struggle for me because with Riley being an only child, I wanted to make sure he had interaction and playtime with other children.  During the school year that doesn't always come easy with friends who go to public school.  But I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we needed to stay home.  So we did, and it went well.  We were able to get quality time in for school, have free time (as long as we finished school in a decent time frame...) and felt much more rested.  All the while, I was still praying as to whether we should do the Coop or not.  I still felt a nagging in my heart that Riley needed that break from me, time with children, time to hear another Mother teaching the class and see her interact with the kids.  So when the time came I put our names on the list for the coop... I took a leap!

The coop in our covering (not knowing how other coops function at this point) is on either Thursdays or Fridays from 8:30 to 12:00.  A family can sign up for either day or both if they so choose.  There are approximately three classes for each age group and the children rotate from class to class.

Today was our first day and here is how the day went.  They started off with a devotion time with the whole group of kids.  This was centered around a character trait and verses from the Bible.  Then each age group went off to their respective class.  Here was the one thing I wondered about (after having time to myself in the past).  Each Mother is expected to stay on campus and help out in two of the classes!  (They don't see themselves as a "babysitting service".) The third hour is free and you can participate in a prayer group or sit and fellowship with the other Moms.  I have to say I really enjoyed it and had a good time!  I didn't think it would be a "bad time" but I wondered if I would miss having time to myself.  I didn't even think about it!  My first hour was free, so I visited the prayer group.  I thoroughly enjoyed it but think that next week I will stay with some of the other Mom's so I can meet more of them.  The next hour I helped out in Art, then the last hour I helped out in the 3 & 4's.  That was fun too!  It brought back a lot of memories of Riley at that age and how fun it was to teach him different things.  So I would say overall that cooping was fun and I look forward to the next week!

After devotion time, Riley went to Fun with Science, then he was in Art with me and then a class where they do Unit Studies and games.  He said that school was "cool" and he really had fun!  He met two new little boys and they all three seemed to be quite the little combo...  :-)

After today, for now I guess our answer to the question "To coop or not to coop?" is Yes!  We both had fun, we were home by 1:30.  We finished up some spelling words, did some reading and we were done.  We probably could have gotten by without doing the spelling but Momma felt like we needed to squeeze that in.  I imagine we will need to evaluate that decision each term to make sure we are doing what we need to do for that part of the school year, but for now it looks as if it may work for us!


Alice Brow said...

So one of the deciding factors for me would be the cost. Does it cost anything? said...

Hey! I'm over here from Lynette's blog.

I really love seeing how other mom's and homeschoolers "do life." I can vaguely remember a time of schooling one child and being able to complete a fun project or read an entire story without several interruptions. Although I do miss that aspect, I'm very thankful God has blessed me with my 4 kids here (and 3 in Heaven).

Enjoy each moment (I'm sure you will).

Claudine T in MD

Lynnette Kraft said...

I saw the title and I thought you were talking about chickens! :) No, not really.

We've never done coops, but we had many children and Anna's health kept us from getting out in crowded spaces. I know many moms who do that and love it. I think it's great that you enjoyed it so much and I'm sure it will be great for Riley.

Thanks for sharing.

Karen said...

I have four (with my oldest in 9th) and we have been in several types of Coops. The one I have been involved in the last 5 years consists of over 100 kids and teaches all the subjects. You pay a tuition based on classes and have to commit to teach one class either on Tuesday or Thursday. We took a break from it last year and got some groundwork I felt needed to be covered. Yours sounds great. I think you just take it one year at a time=)

Carol Topp, CPA said...

I love how you shared the whole thought process..the pros and cons...what to expect and the unexpected blessings you received.

Homeschool co-ops can come in all shapes and sizes and it seems you have found one that fits you well. Being home by early afternoon sure helps! Someone at that co-op is thinking ahead and planning well. Be sure and thank the leadership!

I hope that your co-op continues to be a blessing for your family and many others.

Carol Topp, CPA
Author of Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out