I remember when I first heard about a two-day co-op that was meeting in Howard County. My friend took her children two days, had several hours of volunteer duty each week and then was able to run errands, attend a Bible Study and even clean her house. Hmmm…that sounded interesting, but I could barely get out of the house to a one day co-op each week.
But I had four children who were really social and really enjoyed learning with friends. Maybe two days would be good for them. And, I was finding that I was preparing four math lessons, four history lessons, four writing lessons, etc. and was often up late into the night working on these things. Add to that keeping up with the reading for several children so that I could discuss the material with them. I had become exhausted. I had done pretty well keeping up, but was quickly losing ground in Latin, Science and Math.
We had tried a one-day cooperative but I felt like it was a ‘data dump’ and homework was optional, busy work activity. I didn’t know which direction to head in. My husband was actually the one who called to set up our shadow and interview at the two-day and I went reluctantly. However, it didn’t take long to realize this was a great option for us. It would give us a full academic curriculum, two days of instruction, quicker feedback (because we met two days), social interaction for my children and the valuable classroom experience that taught discipline and classroom etiquette.
I often tell people that this 2-day ‘saved our homeschool.’ It was just the structure and accountability that we needed. My children didn’t want to be the ‘odd man out’ in class, not having their homework or not having done the required reading. They were accountable to me, but more importantly, they were now accountable to someone else too.
Over the years, I have had discussions with friends and acquaintances about this kind of education. Some feel like it is ‘fake homeschool’ and that I have ‘sold out.’ But quite the opposite. I have realized my limitations and have reached out for help. In our current two-day, my high schoolers have instructors that have ‘expertise’ in the subject matter, teachers that converse in Latin, scientists that understand and better explain the concepts. Sure, I could have taught my children chemistry, but it often took hours for me to read, learn and understand the next day’s lesson. That left my house a mess, laundry undone and responsibilities shirked.
So, we go two days a week, Monday and Wednesday. My children have homework on the other days, supervised (and often enjoyed!) by me. I am learning along with them, reading what I can, editing papers, reinforcing concepts at home. The two days mean that concepts are stretched out rather than packed into one day. Homework is given in increments for each day. Teachers are available by e-mail, phone and skype on off days. One added benefit is the added community. I get to see my friends two days a week too! But I also get time to grab a coffee with a friend, read, do laundry and get some ‘order’ back in my life.
NO WAY this is fake homeschool. It strengthened our educational journey immensely. We all became life-long learners and I enjoyed homeschooling again. I know that many hesitate to commit to two days. But consider what it may bring to your homeschool. While you are needed to help for a few hours each week at the co-op, you also have time to do those errands, grab some time for you and perhaps ‘recharge.’ Homeschooling is a LONG commitment and it helps to know that you have help and a community that is in the journey with you.