Friday, November 1, 2013

Homeschool Co-op 2013-14

Every year, I involve the kids in some sort of co-op setting with other homeschoolers. Most years, we just met once a week for various classes, usually non-core subjects like Art or PE. There were 3 years where 4 families’ rotated houses and each mom taught one or two different subjects. I think that co-op was my favorite because I bonded with the other 3 moms and my kids have tight relationships with the kids they schooled with. Our High Schoolers were graduating and the grade levels were beginning to not match up well, so it was time to move on. 

For the past 5 years, I was participating in and out of a Catholic co-op group that met on Friday’s at St. Bridgets parish in Pleasant Hill. This was such a blessing to our family because we all got to meet and become friends with other like-minded families. Now my kids were starting to have real friends and real play dates with other kids. I had put Theresa in 1st and 2nd grade at our local public school and I would never let her have a play date. It is not because I didn’t know the parents. Most of the time, it was because I DID know the parents. I didn’t trust anyone. In the co-op group, I didn’t just have one meet-n-greet talk with the mom’s. We had full conversations for weeks on end and developed bonded friendships before our kids knew that play dates were even a possibility. I love it! I am SO strict about who my kids spend time with and they don’t even know it. If you asked them, they would say that I am the most un-strict mom.  I hardly ever say no to play dates no matter who they are and it is all because I trust everyone that they are surrounded with at the co-op……like-minded Catholic-Christian homeschoolers.

Josie and her cute little friend, Emily. They called each other and color coordinated their uniforms
When I was a young mom, I had other Catholic homeschool mom’s in a particular category. I was scared of them. I thought only moms who thought highly of themselves would take over the job of educating their kids. They must believe they are smarter/better/stronger than all the surrounding schools and teachers. They must be self-righteous. I have 15 years of meeting family after family that homeschools and learned 2 very valuable lessons. If you read nothing else from this blog, I hope you read this…..#1 We all think that everyone else has it all together and everyone else is doing it better. It is our own insecurities that make us believe that other homeschoolers are self-righteous. #2 These moms are nothing more than regular, faithful and insecure women who are all struggling to do what is best for their kids. These are NOT self-righteous women. They are the most humble of the human species. They are the polar opposite of self-righteousness. They are humble. They are scared. And they are insecure. They do not want to screw up their kids because they know there will be no school or peers or teachers to blame. This is a heavy burden to carry. All of these myths and misconceptions about homeschoolers can be laid to rest when you actually develop friendships with these moms. They LOVE to hear stories of each other’s struggles and failures so they can be reassured that they are not alone. Sure, I know about 2 mom’s that may fall into that self-righteous category but I know hundreds more that are in that category that are not homeschoolers.  This is a character problem. Not a homeschooler problem.

The St. Bridgets group made a big change this year. They decided to move to two days a week and took over Christ the King that had just closed its doors as a diocesan run parochial school.  We now teach core subjects on Wednesday and Fridays from 8:30-3:20 and wear uniforms. Uniforms!! We have about 140 students. We get the experience of being in a real school but this time, it is run by parents and taught by parents. Meeting only 2 days a week keeps us in line with homeschool laws too.  I think that spending 5 days a week with your friends is what brings about conflict and arguments. Meeting only twice a week allows our kids to miss their friends and be excited to see them again each week. It keeps the friendships alive and healthy.

Here is a little taste of what we do…..

I am the Algebra 2 teacher to 7 High School students. This is my favorite class. Really, any High School class would be my favorite class because I LOVE teenagers, especially those weird boys. I don’t know what disconnect that God put in teenage boy’s brains but it makes them so funny and strange at the same time. I just love God’s design. He clearly has a sense of humor. And these boys are pure and modest in their conversations. After being a bus driver for several months, I will not take for granted the gift of being surrounded by modestly talking teenage boys. They DO exists.

I am the Human Anatomy teacher for 12 fifth & sixth graders. They are all a bunch of jumping jelly beans. I would like to say that they are just super excited to be in my class but I think all of their teachers have a bit of a problem keeping them still. I love this class in spite of their vocal enthusiasm. They all act like I am their favorite teacher which warms my heart and makes me more forgiving. My Algebra class makes me feel that way too.

The diocese has a program for adults that want to learn more about their faith called BHI (Bishop Helmsing Institute). They agreed to do a little adjusting and teach our High School Religion class. So, Dr. Brennan teaches the class and I assign and grade the homework. I LOVE this. I have to grade about 20 papers at a time with everyone giving the same answers. Believe it or not, I do not know everything about the Catholic faith. GASP! I know, right? LOL. After reading the same answer to a question that I didn’t know the answer to 20 times, the answer slowly moves from my short term memory to my long term after the 10th paper. I’m getting smarter and smarter just by grading papers.

I love these guys. I call Noah's smile the "I-have-nothing-important-to-say smile".....which is nearly EVERY time he raises his hand.

The Edible Cell! I was everyone's favorite teacher by week #2. Yay me!

Ben goes to public school but on 1/2 days, I let him get in uniform and come with us. Poor guy feels left out. One more year buddy!

Max has study hall during my Algebra 2 class because he laughs too much in the regular study hall
Homeschooling this year has been a huge success. It has kept me on track. The kids feel overwhelmed with homework but that is only because they are not allowed to fall behind like they are so used to doing when Mom was their teacher. For the first time, they will FINISH the book in ALL the classes. The kids are participating in projects and experiments that they don’t get at home. They do oral reports that they put effort into so they don’t look embarrassed. The kids are so excited about school that they get up EARLY and doll themselves up before I even roll out of bed.  I never have to hurry anyone along. I love having a successful year. I love helping my kids with homework 3 days a week, instead of 5. I love being away from my kids 2 days a week while smiling and waving at them through classroom windows or down the halls. I love those big smiles as if we haven’t seen each other in weeks when it’s only been an hour. This really has been our most successful homeschool year and I am so proud to know all of these fine ladies and their children.
We will always remember Nolan. He passed away on Dec. 31st, 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment