Tag Archives: enrichment classes

Homework? What’s That?

cohdra100_1473 This week marked our second full week of co-op. Elementary students can sign up for one morning a week of enrichment-type classes, but for middle school and high school students, the co-op follows the university model. Students choose individual classes, attend class one or two days of the week, then work on their assignments at home. So while my younger three might be doing a  science experiment, art project, or PE class, John, who’s in eighth grade this year, is taking Geography and Physical Science. And it’s been a bit of a rough start. 

Each class requires quite a bit of work at home. Homework? We hadn’t used the word very much before this year. John brings home workbook assignments, reading assignments, study questions to answer… all of which he has to turn in to someone else besides me. He has deadlines now; he doesn’t get extra time to complete his work if it’s not done. He takes quizzes and tests just one time – there’s no opportunity to try the problems again. And he’s responsible for writing down his assignments and finishing them in a timely manner. 

How’s it going? Well, he told me he worked on his assignments all week, but the night before they were due, he stayed up two hours past his bedtime trying to finish. He tells me briefly about his current event and lab reports, then tells me he’s not sure when he’s supposed to turn them in. Sometimes he doesn’t even understand the assignment. “Why don’t you ask your teacher?” I ask him, but he just replies, “I don’t know.” 

So do I think these classes are worth it? I’d have to answer with a resounding “Yes!” No matter what grade he receives, he’ll have had an experience that requires he manage his time well, complete a project by a due date, and speak up when he has a question. And from what I’ve seen so far, he’s up to the challenge. He’s beginning to understand what’s expected, and he’s working hard at it. And hopefully next week will go a little better.

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