If you don't know what a homeschool Co-Op is, I can explain it to you. It's where a bunch of families get together to share knowledge with other families or to learn together. There are many ways to set-up a Co-Op. Likely as many as ways as there are of how to homeschool. I've been in a couple of them in my travels and I've read a whole book on homeschool Co-Ops and how to make them work for your family. This particular Co-Op is a Local Christian Homeschool Co-Op. It doesn't completely mesh with us, but my kids are enjoying it regardless. Usually there are more kids than this, but the day I took this picture families were missing due to illness.
This particular Co-Op is in a very large space. It is in a large church. There are classrooms a kitchen, a gymnasium and even a teachers lounge. The families seem very friendly and open to us, even though we are not Christian. The kids are split up by age range (nursery, 3's and 4's, 5's and 6's, 7's and 8's, 9's and 10's, etc... ), depending on the class.
The above picture is Zoe in her gym class.
The above picture is Zoe in her gym class.
Each class is separated into their own rooms. There are three periods. Classes start at 9AM, right after morning announcements, singing "Oh Canada" and morning prayer. Some teachers have their students pray at the beginning of each class. There are three classes with small breaks in between to get to the next class. The school day ends at 12:30. We go home for Lunch. Snacking is okay during classes and sometimes food is incorporated in the course for a reason. For example, pioneer food is served in pioneer class.
There have been fun classes in the past. They even had a flight school come in and teach about flying and airplanes. Some of the students have continued on and got their pilots license. Most of the classes are run by parents and to join up there is a small fee. There is a choice to drop-off kids, the price is much higher. This is the first time I needed a police report to join a Co-Op. I think that this is pretty rare. The more busy classes require a teacher's helper and each parent gets a spare where they can relax with a coffee in the lounge. Sometimes older homeschool students decide to teach a class. This provides them with great experience!
This Co-Op is a bit too much like school for us. There are classes that are too boring for a busy boy like Austyn. The periods are strictly enforced with a whistle, just like the bell at school.
The great thing about it is the diversity of courses. There is a kite making class. Math, Messy Science, Map Making, Singing, Gym, etc. The kids usually have at least two classes to choose from for each period. The above picture is called Around the World and Austyn is putting make-up on his Ken Doll for the purpose of mummification when he was learning about Egypt. The picture below he is wearing clogs for Holland.
We will likely attend this Co-Op again, but it would be nice to have an alternative. Maybe not as big of a Co-Op would be nice. One that doesn't incorporate religion into the courses, but is open to all religions or none at all. One where the ages can mesh together for some activities. Maybe it could be more like the mini-Co-Ops that we use to attend when we lived in Ontario before (before we moved to Edmonton). It would be nice to let the kids stay on a subject they like longer if they choose to or maybe they could move around more freely from activity to activity. Maybe the activities could be flexible enough that the kids could alter what is suppose to be done and make the activities their own.
I've been thinking about it since I've lived here. I may, eventually take on the task of starting one up. There is another Co-Op that isn't religious but it's far away. Some of the Mom's have talked about Car-Pooling to attend one whole session of it and get enough information to model it here in our area, if we like it. For them, it's hard to put a Co-Op together when they've only known of the one and some of them have never attended one before. It would provide the homeschoolers in this area some choices/alternatives. Not every Co-Op fits every family, just like not one style of homeschooling fits every family.