Teach Your Children Well
Tim, Liam and Eden grabbed their backpacks, piled out of their mother's car and headed for the school doors to take classes on "backyard science," "folktales and fairytales," art, history and music.
Their school is the Grace Homeschool Co-op in Fredericksburg, Va., and it meets only once a week. The rest of the time, the children — ages 10, 8 and 6 — receive lessons in math, English, reading, spelling and Latin at home in Spotsylvania County from their mother, Rachel Wilhelm.
Highly organized co-ops like Grace — a Christian organization that doubled in size this year and offers about 35 classes each Monday to children from kindergarten through high school — are among the many sophisticated resources now available to home-schooling families.
Our children have been involved in a small co-op for the last 5 years. The emphasis and approach has changed every year. The first year we met in a cottage in a homeschooler's back yard. The next year we met in a homeschooler's converted garage. The following year we met in a local church. The last two years we have met in a community recreation room at a local park.
The small co-ops are a lot of work. We've struggled to find the balance between too much and not enough. We've done everything from three hours for three times a week to three hours for once a week. We found that the "school" model didn't work very well for us. Instead we only do activities that need a group, such as Lego League, Chess Club, Science Fair and "sharing time" in which students can perform or make presentation.
The larger organizations offer wider variety of classes, but it can get expensive and require more driving time.
Some Christian co-ops have reputation for being a bit "prickly" by requiring the endorsement of a ridged statement of faith that exclude Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists and even some Christian denominations.
Either way, I'm glad that homeschooling is in the news. Still, it seems that homeschooling only becomes acceptable the more it looks like "school."
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