Posted by : Karen Thursday, September 29, 2011
Along this homeschool journey you will find that not only you, but your children also, need companionship and support. This Carnival post seeks to explore some of the ways in which you can find support, encouragement and fun for your children along this path.
|our co-ops almost always involve food!|
|bike riding happens a lot at one mom's house!|
Our co-op has been described by some as being “hard core” (!) in that we are geared towards a craft or activity (it can range from an outing, to painting cushion covers, box construction – you get the picture!) every week, whilst other friends of mine hold a very “low-key” co-op where the emphasis is mostly on playing after a very small craft. The nature co-op takes will depending on the the age of your kids, the shared vision you hold as moms and the desired outcome you want from your time together at co-op. They beauty of it? You get to decide!
And truthfully? Co-ops change. They're as organic as our individual homeschool journeys. What you start out with at the beginning of a year may not be what you end up with as you look back! In our co-op, we had 3 babes in arms at the beginning of the year, all of whom have grown up remarkably during the course of the year and who now need their own little activities. As moms, we've had to keep talking to one another about what we want our co-op to be, and the form we want it to take. Co-ops work if they are able to adapt to the changing needs of the group.
Communication and commitment.
You'll need to learn to co-operate with the other moms way before your kids have to learn to co-operate with each other! Communication – being able to hear one another and to verbalise what you want is essential in making it a successful endeavour.
And our co-op has delighted in watching our children form friendships with one another as we are committed to being a part of it, every week, bar illness or holidays.
|enjoying a Science experiment...|
Some other keys to running a co-op?
- Compatibility – when drawing together a group, have an evening where you can freely discuss what it is that you want from the group, and how you want to achieve that. You may find that people whom you really like as individuals may have completely different goals to you, or ideas of how something should be run that might make you feel uncomfortable. Are your own learning styles and those of your children compatible with others? Being different in this area is not necessarily a problem, as long as you are aware of this at at the outset – after all this happens in the classroom and later the work place! The key about co-op, for moms and children alike, is learning to get along, to co-operate. And this can take time – for moms and children alike.
- Consistency - Although in our own co-op we oscillate madly, we keep trying (note, trying!) to keep some things consistent from week to week. Perhaps it can be the opening song, or they way in which you close off your time together as co-op? Kids welcome a routine, however simple it might be.
- Size – each time a family is added to a co-op the dynamics change – not only because of the number of children , the noise levels and the dynamics of their interactions with one another, but also the number of moms. Think about where your co-op is going to be held – what will it be like on a rainy day? I would recommend starting small and then adding families on when you've found your stride, if you want it to be larger. It's much harder to go from a large group to something smaller.
Wendy from Loving Learning takes you on an inside look at her co-op. I loved the hands on activities on South Africa culture both here (mmm milk tart!) and here (mmm bobotie!), and aslo wonderful to see how their co-op is supporting an incredible journey!
Taryn over at Hayes Happenings also gives you a sneak peek into her co-op, the real nitty girtty so to speak, as well as a look at ideas of how you can structure support groups and/or social opportunities for your children according to what they/you need - weekly or monthly.
Nature Clubs are another version of co-ops, but this time the focus is very much on exploring and enjoying nature. I love Nikki's post on a recent nature club outing over at Our Journey in Him - do yourself a favour, and spend some time looking around her archives to see what else they get up to! Great outing ideas too!
|one co-op member teaching his personally created|
recipe to the others!
Support groups are essential – I still have a copy of my fist post I ever wrote on the Homeschool Kitchen Table eloop years ago! It was a genuinely heartfelt list of questions that I needed answers to in making sense of homeschool. From that single email, I made a friend who has led me into many of the homeschool friendships I have today. Being honest and vulnerable sometimes takes courage, but those further on this journey are always willing to help you are on your way. Taryn (Hayes Happenings) has written this informative and helpful post of the eloops available to South African Homeschoolers, as well as details on how to join them. Facebook also has a Homeschooling SA group, as well as a Western Cape one. There may very well be a group for your province too - if not, why not consider starting one?! Lindy has posted honestly over at Homeschooling in South Africa about how lonely and isolated she felt near the beginning of her journey, but by using the eloops and stepping out and creating a support network, she found a much needed community. She also has some helpful tips to bear in mind. Trys over at Homeschool Blogger has a wealth of both local and international links that would be useful to both new and seasoned homeschoolers.
You are never as alone as you think you are!
|one from the archives - Aragorn at one of the early co-ops!|
This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more. You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page.