Tag Archives: chemistry

To Join or Not to Join?

a-coopTo join or not to join a co-op next fall…that is the question. It’s a question I ask myself every spring as co-ops begin accepting applications for the next school year.

We’ve been part of two different co-ops, one for just one semester, the other for a year. When we joined the first one, my children were eight, five, three, and six months. We had several friends who attended the co-op and loved the enrichment classes that were offered. The year we joined, though, the format changed a bit, and my eight-year-old was in a math class with other third graders. It didn’t go very well. Homeschooled elementary students, even those in the same grade, tend to work at math at different paces. Depending on the curriculum used at home, students might also be learning different concepts.

They changed that class to Spanish for the next semester, but a couple other things weighed in on my decision to stop. The class was experiencing a lot of discipline issues that went unresolved. Also, the financial cost was more than we could comfortably afford, and it was hard helping out on my required days with a baby in tow. So, we finished off the year at home.

Two years later, a friend approached me about joining a Classical Conversations co-op. We participated for a year, and since I taught the finances worked out all right. We didn’t re-join, however, because I still wanted to follow the curriculum we were already doing at home, and the lessons from the co-op just became extra work we had to do. Classical Conversations is a great program if that’s the basis of your curriculum, but it just wasn’t the right one for us.

So here we are, with my oldest going into eighth grade next year, so I’m thinking about co-ops again. Co-op classes can be great resources for teaching those upper level classes like Chemistry, Biology, and Algebra II. We looked at a co-op on Monday that offers those types of courses to middle and high school students for a very reasonable price. Right now they’re full, however, and we’re on a waiting list. I’m not sure how long the list is, but the director encouraged me to consider starting a new co-op with friends who are also interested.

So now the question becomes… to start or not to start a co-op?

Photo by ShelahD

Apologia Science

One of the great things about homeschooling today is the huge variety of curriculum available. Some families prefer to use an entire curriculum produced by one publisher; for our family, however, I’ve found I like to use texts from different publishers for the subjects we study. For science, my favorite is Apologia.

The Apologia Young Explorer Series was written for upper elementary/early middle school. We’re enjoying our third book this year, Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day. Other titles available are Astronomy, Botany, Zoology 1:  Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, and Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. Middle school and high school subjects include General Science, Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Each one is written from a creationist perspective.

Although I enjoy science, teaching it has never been my strong suit, and there have been years I struggled to fit it into our school day. What a shame, since children love learning about nature, and science readily lends itself to hands-on activities. But I don’t have that problem anymore — the Apologia texts make it so easy. The information is clearly presented, and within each chapter are interesting and fun activities that correlate with the lesson.

And these books are so user-friendly! The beginning pages feature contact information where you can find help by mail, phone, or on the web. Then comes a brief description about what the lessons include. The next couple of pages are my favorite – complete lists of all materials needed for each activity or experiment found in the lessons.

The writers of the text state that it can be read aloud to younger students or worked through individually by older students. I’ve found this to be true. While I’m reading the Land Animals text to my fourth and second grader, my seventh grader is working through the General Science text on his own. His book not only includes experiments but also review questions that I have him answer in complete sentences. Tests and solution manuals are also available for the subjects for older students.

All in all, the Apologia Science series gets an A+ from me!