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    Raising our children and educating them could be described as, "a long obedience in the same direction." The longer we homeschool, the more we believe that to be obedient, to stay on the "narrow pathway" that Jesus described, we need the Lord desperately, and we also need each other.

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Do Younger Children NEED a Co-op?

flowertitle What I Wish I Knew flowertitle

This week we will address the question...Do Younger Children NEED a co-op?

All three of us clearly - and fondly - remember those early and new days of homeschooling when our oldest one was 3rd grade or below, and we had many little ones as well.

Jennifer- First let us say that we LOVE co-ops and working together with like-minded moms that have children the same ages as ours. The fellowship is so valuable. However, all co-ops aren't created equal, they each have specific goals and purposes. It is important to know what those are to see if they line up with what you need at the particular season of your life.

One important area to look at to see if a co-op is a good fit for you is the time commitments. How many weeks do they meet in the year and what does the day look like? Does the co-op meet for a couple hours or the whole day? Secondly, it is also important to look at what is the commitment required of you as the mom. Are you required to teach each week? Will you be asked to teach once every few weeks?

If you have young ones, in most cases, we would suggestion that you might look for a co-op that meets for 4 to 6 weeks at a time and then take a few weeks off. Also, perhaps you will want to look at a co-op where the mom commitment isn't a weekly commitment but more of a rotation.

Monica- For example, when my children were in 3rd grade and below, I got together with three other homeschooling mothers with children approximately the same age. We formed what might be considered a "mini-coop" of sorts! We agreed upon a specific topic or unit study, and each mom took one week to lead the teaching, fun craft or activity, and yummy snack....of course :-). This may have lasted only a couple of hours once a week. We usually culminated the study with a field trip to highlight what we were studying! Really, the options of what to study are limitless....a study of birds might prompt a trip to a local raptor center, a study of flight could allow the group to visit a private air strip to sit in the cockpit of a plane, or a study of machinery could be just the excuse to visit a local Krispy Kreme or ice cream producer.

Heather- Options other than a co-op setting would be weekly park days, fun field trips, or activities offered through the local library. This allows for flexibility if the little ones are sick, and social time can be scheduled around naps.

Our co-op serves many grades and each mom is required to teach and assist on a weekly basis, our co-op isn't as conducive to families with just younger ones as another group that just focuses on the younger grades. In our particular co-op, two weeks of absences really affects the whole flow. Also, in order to fit the needs of the older students in our group, our co-op day is long...not necessarily a great fit for the young ones.

We welcome younger children, but most of the younger children we have are usually the siblings of older students. The younger student spends the day at co-op because the family is there for the day.

Jennifer- We are each very keenly aware as our children are older, that this season of young ones goes by in the blink of an eye. Even as we were putting this installment together, we were all nostalgic about the times we spent learning with our young ones. Don't rush to get too academically inclined or get into a rigorous schedule that pushes your little people beyond their limits. There will be time enough for that as they grow older.

Isaiah 40:11 says, "He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."

 

We pray that you will feel His gentle leading in your homeschool journey with your young ones. We look forward to our time together next week when we will discuss the topic...How do I pick a co-op?


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