Let me start this out by saying that we have been blessed to participate in some wonderful co-ops. They were just what we needed at the time, full of wonderful families, and lots of fun.
We've also been in a co-op or two that haven't worked out exactly as we had planned.
Actually, most of them haven't worked out exactly as we had planned, but that's not always a bad thing.
But this year, for the first time in our homeschooling career, we will be flying solo. Bible Study, yes. Art Class, yes. Book Club, yes.
And here's why we just. said. no. this year, and how I will continue to remind myself on our bad days why we made this choice to begin with...
1. Time out of the house. This can be a good thing, for sure. When it is Thursday morning and I am already pulling my hair out at the measly hour of 8 am, it is a huge relief to know that we are leaving the house for most of the rest of the morning. AND that the four of us will be in separate classes for two hours.
However, sometimes I'm not sure the stress of having all of us ready to walk out said door by said measly hour is really worth it. At least, on a regular basis. And for several days out of the week.
With the few things I've said yes to, we already have scheduled commitments. Not to mention our soccer schedule, which is beyond ridiculous.
This year, we are staying home a little more often.
2. Curriculum meshing. Meaning, "is the co-op going to be following a curriculum that is LIKE mine but not mine, or is it going to be following mine?" Last year, we joined a great co-op that was going to follow Trail Guide to Learning. I really, really wanted to be a part of that group, but that curriculum was not going to work for us at home. I figured that since we were going to be covering the same time periods in history, it didn't really matter about the specific curriculum.
And at co-op, it really didn't. My kids were interested, had been exposed to the events being talked about, and loved being with their friends. At home, though, it was a different story.
I felt like I was teaching twice as much. We were covering our regular stuff, but we were also cramming to get in our co-op reading.
Which, all too often, we didn't.
Which gave me another reason for the "I'm a bad homeschool mommy" guilt to creep in.
This year, the same co-op has made their curriculum requirements a little more strict. You have to be using Trail Guide for Learning at home in order to participate. It's still not quite the right curriculum for us.
This year, we will be sticking with what works.
3. Responsibility. Yeah, here's where you're going to find out that I am actually a really lazy person in disguise!
The key to a good co-op is all-member buy-in. Some parents teach, some watch the little ones. Some handle money issues, some handle leadership issues. Some discipline, some plan.
But everyone does something.
I get that, I really do. I also get that we all have different strengths, and also that we should sometimes challenge ourselves by seeking out opportunities outside of our comfort zone.
I also know myself and my control-freak, obsessive tendencies.
My all-in is ALL-IN, or I am upset with myself. (Insert more homeschool-mommy guilt here). And, you know what? Right now I am going to be homeschooling two kiddos, helping a third transition through her pre-teen years AND middle school at the same time, juggling two competitive soccer schedules and assorted car pools, running our household, reviewing new products, blogging, dealing with therapy and medication ups and downs, and selling thirty-one products (my new venture).
I don't currently have any more to give all in.
This year, it is not our season to jump all in. To co-ops, anyway.
So, we'll see. I may have two blissful weeks of actually "home" schooling and then be chomping at the bit to get away from home! But I'm feeling pretty confident that I didn't make this decision by myself. I'm pretty sure God has been trying to tell me to make it since year two.
This year, I'm listening.
What do you all do about co-ops? Check out what my Crewmates are doing below.