Homeschool Co-Op Redux

Saturday

I put my seventh grader in the writing class at the co-op because back at that time I thought it would be one thing off of my plate. I stuck him in there as I knew twice a week we'd be there for older son's chemistry class and figured the younger could be productive.

This was our first time using this co-op and I didn't know what to make of the organization, when we signed up. It was a crapshoot.

The class was $850 which I guess I didn't really tally up as the price was given in monthly payments. I shudder now to think I paid $850 for one 7th grade class especially now that I know that the local homeschool mom author of the course had created what I think is an extremely simplified and repetitive writing curriculum. The entire year was spent on sentence writing and paragraph writing of fiction or opinion pieces along with grammar lessons, very left brained outlining methods, and poetry writing. My son felt the class was a cinch and that he was the smartest one in the room. On the other hand, regarding the fee, it seems more easily acceptable to pay $850 for a high school chemistry class than for a course taught by a mother who uses her friend's curriculum.

I have written enough in the past about the chemistry class so won't get into that here. If I have not said it previously I will make it clear that I respect the teacher and the way she conducted her classroom.

I learned that my younger son likes to do the bare minimum and has started to slack. He cares noting for grades. He does not measure his self-worth by grades. This sounds good but with writing the point is to learn to write well. The teacher allowed re-writes using her criticism. Son said he didn't care about the grade so refused to do most of the re-writes. He said he read what she said and learned from it and that he felt that making her changes was cheating and he wanted to let the original grade stand. Thus his grades ranged from 100 to low B's. He goofed up and forgot to hand in a few assignments so the kid wound up a B student. On the good side he is a very fast learned. You tell him something once and he remembers it. He remembers his homework without having to look at the assignment list. He took care of his paperwork and kept it tidy in the binder that the teacher required. He never lost homework. He was so tidy that I caught him throwing out some of his schoolwork as he felt he was finished with it forever. I wanted to keep it in the binder, they are his writings, at least for now!

(This same son I had put into a not-a-co-op thing who used Institute for Excellence in Writing which I feel is a much better writing program. After we quit the not-a-co-op, I was teaching both IEW and having him do the class then that was a bit much so I dropped IEW for the remainder of the year but he will use it in grade eight.)

As for what I think of the co-op itself it similar in some ways to my favorite co-op in Connecticut. The administration is open to learning disabilities, asynchronous learners, gifted kids, and they are a bit loosey-goosey in a good way. The bad of it is sometimes it is too loosey-goosey and there is bad classroom behavior that in my opinion is not being kept in check. Since I hung around the place for 90 minutes twice a week I saw or overheard through thin walls what was going on in other classrooms. If I was a co-op teacher there that nonsense would not fly with me. There are some really poorly behaving elementary and middle school aged kids there.

What was different from my former much-loved co-op is this co-op is more traditional school-y with Christian curriculum and the other was mostly teacher developed classes with offbeat topics or great stuff not normally taught to kids that age. The CT one was more alternative and also the group was smaller and more tightly bonded making for some great classroom dynamics.

At the former co-op I was a teacher and since I was around a lot I got to know the kids and some of the other moms who taught or volunteered. It felt like community. Here at this co-op because I was there just three hours a week I did not really get to know any of the adults and I didn't ever really interact with the kids, so I didn't feel a real part of the community. They did have some social events but they always conflicted with sport practice or races for my kids so we could not attend those.

Interestingly this co-op owns the building! It is so convenient to not have to schlep stuff back and forth to a rented facility like we had in CT. This place is a former house and they also added two portables which contain a total of four large classrooms. There is a meadow and a butterfly habitat, there are several acres, I'm not sure how many, but at least three. It's pretty impressive in that way.

I would enroll my kids there again if the class selection was a good fit, if the thirty minute each way commute was worthwhile and if I felt it was a best use of our funds. As of right now I have decided that next year neither of my kids will take classes there. How and what we are doing will have to be decided upon this summer. I have a lot of thinking and planning to do this summer.

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