This afternoon the children and I spent a few hours with some good friends. We enjoyed ourselves, but we did not meet just to socialise. These friends have all been part of the same homeschooling co-op as us, in fact we met two of the families at the co-op and the other family we encouraged to join. The reason for the meeting is the fact that we have all just left the co-op and are beginning “something else” and we met today to work out what form the”something else” will take.
The co-op has been a huge blessing to our family. I think the most significant thing the co-op has provided for our family is friends. Friends for the children and friends for me and ultimately families who are friends with our family. In the five and a half years we have been involved it has always been a teaching co-op, so the emphasis has always been on learning together, but as we learnt and taught, we talked and listened, we played and prayed and friendships naturally grew. We have made friends whose company we will always delight in even if we don’t see them often.
There are some things that are very hard to do at home and our co-op filled some of those gaps very nicely. We have done spelling bees, math olympics, geography competitions, science fairs and history fairs. We have done oral presentations about countries, novels, sports and famous people. I remember our very first oral presentation was for “Heroes of the Faith” and we did Francis and Edith Schaeffer. The presentation consisted of me reading a script we had worked out together with a line here or there that the girls had practised and a display board we had all worked on. As I watched them make a presentation about Japan last year I couldn’t help noticing the huge difference between that first oral presentation and the one they were delivering. They had prepared their speeches themselves, made the visual aids and worked out how they would involve members of the audience. This development was largely due to the increase in their ages, I know, but it was also due to many and varied opportunities they have had to improve their oral presentation skills in the co-op.
We have had a gym component at co-op also and it has been a big hit. Many talented and enthusiastic mothers have trained, taught and exhausted the children, but the favourite teacher was always Mr H, from Athletes in Action who came once a month to do all sorts of sports and games with them. He worked them hard and they loved it.
Over five years we have covered a great many topics in co-op, some of them a couple of times and I have always been impressed and amazed by the creative ideas of the other mothers. It is wonderful to see someone else’s approach and benefit from others’ expertise and gather ideas. My children were able to learn from artists, designers, musicians, writers, scientists, scholars, cooks who were part of our membership as well as the talented people we invited in from time to time.
There has been another big benefit of being part of the co-op and it is not scheduled in, it just happens. The opportunities to talk to other homeschooling mothers on a regular basis has been a treat and a lifeline. There has always been someone to encourage me, rejoice with me, pray for me, make suggestions, share experiences, lend a hand, or a shoulder. There have been women who have already experienced what I am going through and can give advice, comfort, support. There have been women who can do things which scare me and I have watched and learned and been amazed. There have been women whose lives have inspired me and still continue to, women who walk faithfully with the Lord and are raising children to do the same.
I didn’t know I would receive so much when I joined the co-op with a 7 year old, a five year old and a 10month old baby. So it is not a decision I have taken lightly to leave the co-op with my 12, 10 and 6 year olds. There are many things and people I will miss. But it is time to do something a little different and move our family in a slightly different direction. I am excited to be trying something new. I thank God for His Thursday afternoon blessings, they are too numerous to count.