Yes, yes yes… I know! Where have I been? I have not written a word on here in so long. But I tell you it wasn’t for the lack of trying. This was our third year of homeschooling and we tried something new. This year, we decided to join a co-op. What is a co-op you ask? It is a group of moms who come together, whom have strengths in different academic areas, and teach the kids of the group. That is the most simplest way to explain it!
Let’s Try Something New!
The co-op we joined was different then others around. It is not like Classical Conversations or Tapestry Of Grace where the curriculum is pre-packaged. The admin of the co-op chose different curriculums for the four different subjects. It covered history, geography, writing, and science. Many hours were spent looking at different curricula to find which ones would fit the co-op. I have to say, it was a year full of fun, excitement and frustrations but they were all worth it!
With being a part of a co-op, our kids had to participate in class. They did all sorts of science experiments, hands on history, gave presentations, had to work in groups and learn how to work together even when there was a disagreement.
The photo above only captured a fraction of what the kids did while they were in class at the co-op. We mummified a cornish hen (which represented a mummy in Ancient Egypt), wrote in hieroglyphics, had multiple presentations, and made cookies. Yes, we made cookies!
You asked, “Would you do a co-op again”? Absolutely! But, there was a lot of good and some bad that went along with our year. The two years previous, we were pretty relaxed. If we didn’t feel like “doing school” we would have documentary day or baking day or home economics day (which meant cleaning the house and grocery shopping 🙂 ). We had a relaxed homeschool but not too relaxed. We definitely worked on our school work, but there was no sense of urgency, no stress, just a get-it-done type of attitude. I loved it, but I saw lots of flaws in this way of schooling (for us).
Our oldest is a very grade oriented child. She loves getting up in front of classmates and show off (for a lack of better words) how smart she is. She loved being the smartest kid in the class. Now that we homeschool, she didn’t get to stand in front of the class and talk about all that she researched. So, for her, co-op was like being back in public school. Our middle daughter really loved our relax learning environment. She is not shy to say the least, but she gets stage fright. But by the end of the year, she was so excited to do her presentations and talk in front of the class. It was great seeing her almost comfortable presenting her subject to the class! For our son, this was his first grade year. He was placed in the 1-4th grade class. I was a little worried that he would not be able to hang academically with the older kids… but he blew that worry off the fence! He did great and had no problem getting up and presenting. Actually, he loved it! He was so excited when he picked to play Joshua (from the Bible) as his First Person Narrative! He did such a great job and totally stayed in character!
It was a great experience but we (well… more like I) had a hard time trying to balance everything with such a strict homeschooling schedule. For me, that was the frustrating part of the co-op. Going from a relaxed atmosphere to a “this assignment is due next week” atmosphere was really hard… for me! I will not lie, it stressed me out. Finally, towards the end, we missed assignments, life happened (it was crazy for a while there) and it was ok! The joy of homeschooling… GRACE and I needed a lot of it! 🙂
Como Se Dice?
If adding a co-op was not enough, this year we also added Spanish. My friend, who is a Spanish teacher for local homeschool groups, lives in our neighborhood. I had asked her if she would be willing to teach Spanish here at our house if I could find another family or two who would like to join us. She agreed! I was so excited because this meant that I didn’t have to drive 30 minutes into town for her to teach our kids! I only needed to find one more family, they had 5 kids who took the class with ours.
Spanish class was fun and the kids did a Spanish country report… and made food for that report! 🙂 It was fun to see what different types of foods the kids came up with. Spanish was not our oldest’s first choice but it was a good introduction to learning a new language. I think this coming up year we are going to try German… since it is part of my heritage!
To Be or Not To Be, That Is The Question?
Oh yes, we just went there… The girls did a fun 6 week class on Shakespeare, that 2 fellow moms put together. My friends did such a good job planning it, teaching it, and made it so much fun. Who knew Shakespeare could be fun! For the final day, the teachers planned a trip to the Shakespeare Theater in Orlando to watch the performance of The Tempest. Our oldest wants to read more works by Shakespeare now! Thank you so much my friends!
Oh Where Did Those Shoes Take You?
I am so glad I did this. At the beginning of the school year, a group of us (outside of the co-op and the homeschool group) scheduled monthly field trips to a local, privately owned, springs. It was an inexpensive monthly field trip in the great outdoors of Florida! The kids has so much fun with all the hands on learning! They investigated every thing from water ways, bugs, to microscopic organisms, to animal skulls and bones, and so much more! I am really happy we were able to go on a monthly field trip and that it was already planned out. All we had to do was just show up!
Where Did That Rabbit Come From?
To add the our crazy life… We adopted a bunny! Funny story. Our neighbors have a couple of bunnies, snakes, big dogs, and they just love animals! While they were on vacation, somehow (while the animals’ caretakers were cleaning out a cage) the male and female bunnies mated. A few weeks after our neighbors got back from their long summer trip, their oldest daughter’s friend saw that the bunny had given birth to 5 babies! Both mom and dad bunny are show bunnies but they are different breeds. That means, we can not show the bunny at the fair. That is ok, she is our little bunny and we love her. Her name is Agnes or Aggie for short. Which is fitting seeing the our neighbors are alumni of Texas A&M… the Aggies. It was such a beautiful thing watching Aggie grow up and get bigger! We got to hold her before her eyes were open! It was a beautiful thing! She is a mix with Holland Lop and Mini Lop and we were able to bring her home on October 31st! So cute! (P.S. if you are wondering what is on Aggie’s head, it is a faux raccoon hat!)
Oh The Places You Will Go!
To go along with our monthly field trips, we had a few other field trips throughout the year. One of our favorite field trips was the Alafia Rendezvous. It is an encampment from the 1800’s. It is so much fun and this time, my husband was able to join us! I love it when he can participate in anything school related! Of course we went to the library… what homeschooler doesn’t do that! 🙂 We took a fun trip to Sea World. I have to say, Sea World has to be my favorite amusement park in Orlando. We have been a few times since moving to Florida but this time we did things we normally didn’t do, which included feeding the sea lions! Yummmm, fish! In the late spring we had a death in the family so we drove the 22 hour drive home to be with family. While up there I took the kids down to our ole fishing hole! It was so peaceful out there. Then to end our school year, we went to the FPEA Homeschool Convention! Man, that was fun! A highlight of that trip with taking the kids to Medieval Times. It was fitting that we went there, because we studied the Medieval Time Period in our history class! I loved watching their faces as the show went on! It really got your heart pounding!
I am looking forward to our next school year. We will be studying U.S. History big time so I am hoping to have some really cool field trips! So much to go out and see!
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