Posts Tagged ‘new year’

Choosing a co-op

January 22nd, 2013

For most of our homeschool years we have not involved ourselves in a co-op. However, there have been certain seasons when we have found them a helpful addition to our curriculum.  As we enter into a new year, many people find themselves beginning planning for next school year. Since we are still teaching and running a household the planning can be a long process, and it is beneficial to take your time and digest the resources, information, and opportunities that surround you.

Sharing from personal experience, I thought it might be helpful to put into writing some of the important considerations in choosing a co-op.

The top three I think are the most important — schedules, cost, and family fit.

Scheduling – Take some time to consider all of the scheduling ramifications of a co-op. You will be committed, each week on a certain day and time to be somewhere, whether it is all day or just an hour or two. This can be a great thing, but make sure it fits in your daily routine and your weekly schedule. Make sure you understand the commitment before jumping in. And, can you back out at the end of the semester if it isn’t a good fit? Especially if the co-op requires volunteer hours or the teaching of a class, all of those will fall on you as well.

Cost - Be sure to add up all the expenses — class fees, books, registration fees, per semester costs, etc. At one point I realized that instead of my child taking one class I would rather spend a little more on what we were doing at home and just enjoy staying put.

Family fit – What are your kids’ ages? Do they have programming available for everyone? Are you kids interested in the classes available? Are you still juggling naps? Consider each child and their needs and developmental ability to make sure it is a workable fit.

Reasons to skip it (at least for now)

Takes you away from each other – One of the huge joys of homeschooling is time together. Some homeschoolers spend much of each day in the car chasing opportunities for different children. Not wrong to take advantage of a beneficial time of learning, but sometimes you might find the greater benefit in staying home. Sometimes.

Immaturity and other issues- Another one of the many reasons that I homechool is that some of my kids would not have fit well into a classroom at the state designated age for kindergarten. They needed to run a bit still. Different kids at different ages will benefit more or less from a more structured class environment. Most co-ops are a little more flexible than a traditional classroom, but it is still important to consider the suitability of the situation to your child’s personality and level.

Husband’s perspective- Always seek unity. I don’t rush into anything without talking it over with my husband. Sometimes he leaves the choice to me and is fine either way, but other times he has a stronger opinion about our participating, or not, in a particular activity. I always value his perspective on the situation and want to make a decision that we both are comfortable with.

Other considerations –

Accountability - I think I hear this the most often for why people joined a co-op. They just wanted someone else on a regular, but not daily, basis keeping them and their child on track. Other homeschoolers are in exactly the same place as you and there is something wonderfully enlivening about seeing them once a week and knowing that the rest of the week they are grinding away at the assignments as well. Academic excellence is an important goal and if the co-op will gently keep you on that path, then that is a great reason to join.

Tough subjects — whether it is a subject you hate or one you just plain ol’ don’t understand, a co-op can be a real life saver in certain subjects. Whether it is high level math, speech, writing, or high school science (Physics played a role in our co-op consideration), you might find a co-op a great fit for filling your teaching gap.

Educational philosophy- They might not have to agree with your completely, but you will want to at least be compatible. Be sure you understand their approach and how it affects their classes (worksheets and books chosen, topics of study, class structure, etc.)

Time commitment – you will usually be required to assist, teach, or fill volunteer roles. Don’t forget about transportation times. This will cost everybody’s time if you have other kids at home that you are teaching.

Doctrinal statement – This may or may not apply to you, but this was a significant factor in our decision. Do they have one? Must the teachers agree to it? Must the families agree to it (one parent or both)? Are classes taught from a clear, stated worldview? Do you fit with it, or are you just “ok” with it?

Size and experience- Pros and cons both ways here. I prefer small and personal, others prefer large with lots of choices. Some might like fresh and innovative, others might prefer established and with a track record.

Behavior expectation- what do they expect in class and how do they enforce it? This is important to know if your child happens to be the one that struggles in a new setting or if he might be influenced by the “other kid” who does.

And, a few NOT good reasons to join a co-op :

(these may be way down on your list somewhere, but they will hopefully never be the driving force behind your decision to seek out a co-op)

Socialization - Hopefully you are as sick of hearing this as I am. Your kids need you, not a group of peers to show them how to relate in this world. Yes, they need to work that out with others at times, but you don’t need a weekly commitment to a co-op to accomplish that.

Default -Everyone’s doing it. Um, if everyone jumped off the cliff . . . ;)

Insecurity - Do seek out other homechool moms that can encourage you in your journey, but don’t assume that you need someone else teaching your child for them to get an adequate education.  There are lots of resources that you can use right at home in a subject that you struggle with.  Trust who God has made you to be and His wisdom in placing these children under your care. You can do it!

There is not one perfect co-op and even amazing co-ops don’t necessarily make a suitable fit for every family. Take your time and get to know the co-op, the leadership, some of the members, and even the facility. It does not matter if they worked well for others, what matters is if it will improve your homeschool or take away from it.

I know my bias comes through in this post and as much as we love what we have received and been able to offer through our current co-op, I am more of a non-co-op person. I just love being at home with my kids learning and living life together. But, I also know what an amazing tool a suitable co-op can be in your homeschooling arsenal, so weigh the decision, and enjoy another year of homeschooling whether it’s all under your roof or a little here and a little there.

Panda Express Chinese New Year Resources

December 5th, 2012
2012 Chinese New Year: Learn With Me Program
This FREE program is geared towards students in second to fourth grade and includes the following:

• Exclusive Access to the Panda Express Chinese New Year Video
• Year of the Snake Fact Sheet
• Jade Emperor’s Interactive Game & Activity Sheet
• Chinese New Year Decoration Art Activity
• Lai See Activity Sheet

The Chinese New Year Learn with Me Program™ materials will be available beginning Monday, January 28, 2013. The Year of the Snake celebration runs for 15 days beginning Sunday, February 10, 2013.


Learn With Me School Program

Chinese New Year celebration: Feb 10 – 24

Panda Express, America’s leader in Asian dining, is offering a FREE educational program for your school. For six years, our Chinese New Year Learn with Me Program™ has provided educators with a resource to encourage learning about China’s most important holiday celebration.

Check out all the info:

Our curriculum plans and link to more

August 6th, 2012

Not Back to School Blog Hop

The new year!
We have a couple weeks yet before we begin. August 22 is our official start date at this point, but at least we know where we are headed.

I made myself a master list like the following but just with the generic subjects listed and then a box for each day of the week. Then I won’t forget what they should be doing each day. And, I can use it to record their grades for each assignment in each subject which will make record keeping so much easier.

In the past I would pull out their individual notebooks and pull their grades off the top of each graded assignment. Now, I will just record it all onto my master sheet throughout the week and just have one paper of info to put into the computer on the weekend. That will make my weekend job a 15 minute one rather than an hour long one.

Lots of the same. We know what works for us and what we love, but some new stuff, too. Of course, since we don’t really follow the regular school calendar, many of these books and subjects they are already in the midst of.

I am streamlining a bit this year and doing history all together. Obviously their homework and their interaction with the material will be quite different over the 8 year age span, but we will all be in the same time period and it will tie into our Bible time as well. Science for all 2-8th will be the same as well. My 8th grader already finished Physical science and General Science so she gets to have fun with us this year as she isn’t really ready for high school science yet.

I am mixing up grammar this year. We love Rod & Staff, but it gets a little repetitive year after year. So, I am going to switch every other year and pepper in Shurley and Easy Grammar. We gave both of these an introductory run during our summer school and they seem to fill the need well.

High School continues to stretch us, but mostly in a good way. This year we will tackle Spanish and Advanced Mathematics (including pre-calc) together.

Nathan — 2nd grade
First Language Lessons (mostly oral)
Saxon Math 3 (already half way through)
Handwriting without tears — big focus!! Trying to improve his pencil grip and penmanship this year
All About Spelling level 3 (almost done)
Truth quest History (Beginnings — ties into Bible)
Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
PE — baseball, gym and swim, PE at co-op
Brooke – 3rd grade
Rod & Staff English 3 (half way through)
Saxon Math 5/4 (half way through)
All About Spelling level 3 (almost done)
Truth quest History
Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
A Reason for Handwriting T (half way through)
PE — soccer, gym and swim, PE at co-op
Faith – 6th grade
Easy Grammar Level 1
Saxon Math 8/7 (half way through)
All About Spelling level 4
Truth quest History
Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
PE — soccer, gym and swim, PE at co-op
Paige – 8th grade
Shurley English 7
Algebra 1 (half way through)
Puppetry (Co-op)
IEW Level B (Co-op, I’m teaching)
All About Spelling level 4
Truth quest History
Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
PE — soccer, gym and swim
Blake – 10th grade
Apologia Chemistry (Co-op)
PE — baseball, gym and swim, PE at co-op
Spanish 1
Advance Mathematics (Saxon)
IEW Level C (Co-op, I’m teaching)
Truth quest History
Full days, but wonderfully full. I look forward to another year of exploring life and our amazing world with my kids. In between it all we continue to enjoy the antics of a two year old who breathes new life into everything. Thankful to God for another opportunity to live life in the midst of my family each day.

Fitness incentive program

January 17th, 2012


We all may be seeking fitness motivation that keeps our New Year’s goals rolling, and while this incentive is for the students, maybe it will help us keep our own plans in line.

Raging Waves Waterpark offers an incentive program that will really get kids moving.

From their site:

Welcome to the 2012 Plunge into Fitness Program

Children Kindergarten through 8th grade are invited to Plunge into Fitness this spring as Raging Waves Waterpark joins the battle against childhood obesity. The fitness initiative runs March 5 through April 30, and each child completing the program requirements during this seven-week period will receive a free Raging Waves full day admission pass.

The Plunge into fitness program requires a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day, which totals 25 hours for the seven week period. Any activity that increases heart rate qualifies including: walking, running, biking, playing team sports, skateboarding, swimming, jumping rope and hopscotch. For the duration of the program, each child will complete a fitness log provided by Raging Waves. Once complete, a parent will sign it and the child will turn it into his or her teacher by April 30th. All children kindergarten through 8th grade, including homeschoolers, are encouraged to join this program and earn a free Raging Waves full-day admission pass.

They even have posters to download and all the info right there on their site.  Sign in doesn’t actually start until April 30 when you may use your log in id and password they provide to upload all participating students at once. Everything must be received online only by May 15, 2012.

They say they also give you an opportunity to buy additional tickets for 25% off!

Check out all the details for their Plunge into Fitness program.

Panda Express Learn with Me Program

January 5th, 2012

A fun program that incorporates learning about the Chinese New Year is available from Panda Express.

This would be great for your co-op or support group and is geared specifically to kids in second through fourth grades.

Here’s the link:

Sign up by January 8th!

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