Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In the news - homeschool co-ops

There is an article about homeschooling in the Washington Times that explores the homeschool "co-op" phenomenon.

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."

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education


Momma TaderDoodle said...

We just started homeschooling, and despite all my efforts to help our family (grandparents etc.) feel more comfortable with our decision it still came down to the silliest issues...

My favorite? "They won't learn right without a black board and bell ringing"

Give me a break!

I'm not turning MY school into a "public school" look a like for anyone.

Henry Cate said...

I generally don't find it helpful to respond in a snide way, but I'd be tempted to say something to your family like:

"Why would I want to handicap my children by forcing them to be in a classroom setting."

Studies have shown that the one-on-one tutoring approach that is key with homeschooling is much, much more effective in helping children to learn.