I have been home schooling since Caleb was 5… and hes now 11. So around 6 years. In all that time I have yet to join a co-op type group. Although one year we did participate in something called Classical Conversations… and while I liked parts of it, it just wasn’t my thing. I didn’t like feeling bound to a specific curriculum’s “time schedule…” sounds weird, but I like the freedom of controlling things… and CC for me, hindered that. It also was very expensive… The one year we did it, it was a shock the final cost. Still, one of the things I did miss about CC, was the social interaction. So when we moved to SC. I knew, being new, we needed to find some sort of home school group to join.
I am thankful that I found one that has been a great fit.
It is located about 12 minutes from our home. It actually meets at the sister church to ours. The church we meet at, planted our church. So I thought that was kind of cool. The cost was minimal compared to some co-ops I had debated joining back in Atlanta… but just could not afford. For the whole semester, supplies included and even child care for Reed was under $100.00. You just can’t beat that! That is so cheap for three boys, 4 classes each. I am so thankful that this co-op was affordable… seems like many co-ops forget that larger families can’t afford to pay $75.00 a class… or 100’s per kid. At least I can’t. While I realize expenses and time goes into putting all of it together, I sometimes think things are way over priced… I never want our home school to be a financial burden. Ever. So we’ve def. had to pick and choose what we do, depending on cost. Thankful this one is within our means.
The boys are taking classes like Architecture using Minecraft. Reptiles by the River. Art Creations. Fun with Letters. PE. Music. etc.etc. Basically elective type classes. It is also a time for them to be independent. Navigating the hall ways to their different classes. We also have a gym devotional time where the kids can spot and sit with their new friends… have snack… and so forth.
After co-op (it ends around 12:30) many of the families do a picnic style lunch at a nearby park too.
I am on the year book team and snagged a few photos this week. Thought Id share a few favorites here on the blog. :)
Here is Caleb in his Reptile class. I help in this one.
1st Period class I am with middle schoolers, teaching some fun art skills. Right up my ally.
Owen (who is 5) has done great learning the ropes. (he’s the one in yellow here)
How adorable is this baby turtle!
& of course, any class that involves lego’s – its awesome.
The Co-op has over 100 families involved. Pretty massive :) & encouraging to see so many home schoolers.
A few things I have learned this year home schooling.
1. Teaching 5th grade English is horrible. I almost wanted to throw in the towel. Call it quiets… give up. I am awful at english. Beyond awful. I do not comprehend it fully myself and therefore to teach it, was even harder. My blog is evidence of how bad I am at english (with proper grammar, spelling and so forth). It just is not my thing… and the curriculum we had did not offer any dvd lessons and walk throughs, like Caleb’s math offered. We use Saxon with Teacher DVDS for his Math and that has been a life saver for me! Having a curriculum that explains things well to my child, is huge… I need that help. So when we would do english lessons and struggle badly… I lost it. I am so thankful my husband has been willing to help… and so he is taking charge and does English with Caleb. I thankfully am able to understand 3rd grade English haha… so I do teach Taite his english just fine. I know as my kids age though and get into higher grades… if the curriculum does not offer dvd help, I will not be able to teach them well. Call that a lack in confidence in myself… or just pure honesty. “I am not smarter than a 5th grader” holds some truth. It just creates in me a push to find ways to make it work… as I do feel home schooling our boys is important.
2. Kindergarten should be done slowly… if schooling your 5 year old is resulting in insults… or fuming tempers… you need to step back. Preaching to myself here… Owen who is a new 5, just like my other boys is having trouble with phonics. Math, writing, no problem. Phonics… its rough. I remember facing this same situation with all my boys and realizing that around age 6-7 something just clicked in them… and what use to take them hours to retain, took minutes. So I am reminded from that but also encouragement from friends… to take it slow. Give grace… and dont fall to the temptation of social pressure to get a kid reading by age 5. I think its nuts that schools expect ALL boys (esp) to understand and grasp reading well by age 5… I for one, wont belittle or make reading so unenjoyable that they hate it, just so they can say they read by a certain age. My older boys are evidence that learning to read later, will in no way slow them down. They are doing fantastic :)
3. School in shifts. With four kids, all different ages. You cannot school everyone at once. At least I can’t. So we school in shifts. Most mornings I try to get the older two to do math 1st… they can for the most part do this without my help. I sometimes have to do a lesson with our 3rd grader… but Caleb who is 5th grade, does every bit of it on his own using his laptop program and work book. It takes him a solid hour though. Saxon is hardcore :) but solid. While they do math, I may work on Owen with his workbooks. Reed may play iPad. While I work on Taite with english, Owen may play with Reed. While we do Science/History together (I do this with my older two, both at the same time). Owen may play something alone and Reed may nap. Its all about balance and finding time to focus on one thing… if I tried to do everything at once, I would loose my mind! I even try to add in a 20 minute time span where I can workout… and focus for just a few moments on MYSELF. We moms are worth that 20 minutes… and our children should be able to leave us be for at least that amount of time.
4. Offer incentives and rewards. I created a new chore chart system. Each chore gives the kids “screen time.” If they complete certain chores, they get a certain amount of time… one of those chores I added was “Do your school well and quick.” If they do this, they get an additional 35 min. screen time! A huge amount compared to their 5 minute screen time chores :) – I also have a treasure box. filled with goodies. At the end of a week. If they ace their spelling/math test, etc… they get to get a toy or goodie from the treasure box. This has always worked well for us… and its very inexpensive. Dollar Tree has lots of great options.
and… I think thats it. Each year I learn more and more ways to make schooling work… each year brings its own challenges… and at times doubts. Its a year to year thing… and we make it work. Thankful for the ability to home school… It is a blessing.