Despite what many people think, homeschooling is definitely NOT an alienating experience. But sometimes we get asked, or even ask ourselves, how do we get social experiences? What opportunities are out there for our kids to meet other kids, and where do we parents find other parents?
The answer is simple: The Wonderful Co-op!
(This is part 2 of a 3 part series on the Wonderful Co-op. If you missed part 1 you can click to go back and read about the Year-Round, Open Co-op.)
One fun type of Co-op that really connects kids is the subject/curriculum specific co-op. In this co-op, you choose a subject and corresponding curriculum and go through it as a group. This can be a few weeks, or a year round co-op depending on your choice and how fast you want to go through it.
My first experience with this type of co-op was when I came in on the last of a 3 year Science Co-op put together by my awesome friends Gabby and Jill. (Talk about homeschool mom idols- these two ladies are mine.)
Gabby and Jill worked their way through the R.E.A.L Science Odyssey curriculum and I came in for their final year with Space. We met every week, the same time, same place (a public park) and worked through the book. I paid a nominal fee to Gabby and Jill to cover the materials cost, bought the book, and otherwise all I had to do was show up!
I’ve heard of several co-ops that run like this. A homeschool favorite is the History Co-op using Story of the World. I know several families that have done History co-ops. And because SOTW has 4 books, you could feasibly do 4 years of it.
But maybe weekly co-ops are difficult or maybe you can’t agree on a curriculum, you could do a co-op based on something like a book. Gabby put together a Harry Potter co-op this year. They meet once a month and do activities related to Harry Potter. The ideas are endless with where this could go, or even how long this could last.
Basing a co-op on something like a book is really a great way to bring a variety of kids together because it is a common interest that could easily span many different ages, races, cultures, sexes, etc. And there is a plethora of interest choices… Star Wars co-op? Lego co-op? Cooking co-op? Fashion Design co-op? Hunger Games co-op? The ideas are endless. And you can be as fanciful or realistic as you like. Harry Potter could be all about magic and mythical creatures or you could take a more practical every-day approach and cover chemistry (potions) and botany, etc.
This year, the Littles are in a Magic School Bus Co-op with my friend Tina. Remember Tina? The wonderful mom that did the Kids’ Honor Club? Yep. She did it again.
Magic School Bus Co-op is based on the Magic School Bus show. The kids watch an episode and do some science experiments to reinforce the show. Unlike the science co-op where Gabby and Jill did all of the actual teaching, in MSB co-op each mom in our group is taking a turn hosting. While I loved Gabby and Jill doing all of the work, I also like doing my part. Besides, who doesn’t love Ms. Frizzle?! I wanna be just like her.
Another benefit to the subject specific co-op is that the group is usually pretty small which gives you and the kids plenty of time to really get to know each other. With this kind of intimacy, these groups usually tend to stick together through a lot of different co-ops. For example, our Science co-op included Noel Beth who is also doing the Harry Potter co-op with Gabby and Jill. Our Kid’s Honor Club (which in and of itself was a type of co-op) included Jill and Shannon who are also a part of the Magic School Bus Co-op. Our kids know each other and like each other and so they do things together. We know each other and like each other so when we are planning our next co-op, we want to work together.
Yep. There we have it people. No more isolation because we homeschool. Be creative and follow your kids’ and your interests to create a co-op. Create a co-op that meets your needs and probably there are some families out there interested in participating.
If you would like more information on the co-ops I’ve mentioned feel free to contact me. If you have participated in a subject/curriculum specific co-op or have ideas of one, please share in the comments. We all love ideas and inspiration!