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My Homeschool Co-op Fantasy (only if we stay in AZ)

November 4, 2010

Arizona blows for education.  I learned this myself years ago when I spent two semesters going to two different high schools while living with my sister (I did spend my senior year and graduated in my hometown in IL).  Then I took two community college classes when I came back after high school, and the information covered was literally material that I had mastered before entering high school.  I remember being stunned that there were people who had supposedly graduated high school but had not mastered the basic 5-paragraph essay.  They would whine and complain that it didn’t make any sense and when would they ever have to write an essay in “the real world”?  Well, you won’t ever have to write an essay if your intended career path is to climb the corporate ladder from night cashier to store manager of the local QuikTrip.  But (I imagined) if you are taking college classes, you probably want better for yourself.  So quit whining.

After that joke of a semester I went back to IL and later CA for my higher education, and the abysmal state of education in AZ never really concerned me when I came back here to live and work.  Now I have a baby, who will need an education starting in four to five years, and I am getting worried NOW.  The education system is getting worse all the time, and with the recession and budget crisis in the state, schools keep bearing the brunt of more “cost-cutting measures”.  By the state’s own statistics, AZ teachers get paid less, have more students, and they are expected to teach to standardized tests (which don’t have an essay section.  Hmm) to supposedly demonstrate “accountability”. Um, I’m not prepared to send my child into a school system that ranks “dead last” in anything!  And the brilliant voters of this fine state just elected this guy to be the State Superintendent of Public Education.  FAIL.

So as I was laying in the bathtub last night, I was imagining a Homeschool Co-op.  I have never been into the concept of homeschooling, not because I object to the practice in any way (I think it is ideal, actually) but I just don’t think I have the chops to do it.  I always imagined sending my children to the sort of great schools that I went to (you know, they kind where music and art classes still exist!), and then supplementing their education with home science projects, trips to museums, and stimulating dinner conversations (hey I said this was a fantasy, right?).

Back to the Co-op Fantasy: I imagine four other parents (probably mothers) who all have the same goals for educating their children (who are very close in age to LM), but with different areas of education and expertise themselves.  We each take the kids for one day a week, and do a combination of structured desk work and unstructured free play/field trips.  The kids have plenty of social contact and fun time mixed into the homeschool environment, and each of us mothers only has to be the “teacher” for one day per week, leaving the other days of the week available for the other four of us to spend time with future younger siblings, work, do errands, etc.  And a 5-to-1 ratio seems really great to me, because each child would get plenty of attention, but would also learn to wait a few moments while someone else gets needed help and attention.

Does this really seem too far-fetched?  I don’t think so.  And with just five children and a pile of elementary education material, I’m sure we can come to agreement on a curriculum pretty easily. Then we’d all have well-rounded, socialized, happier children. What do you say?  Who’s with me?!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrea permalink
    November 4, 2010 4:49 pm

    I’m with you! Heather & I talked about it briefly a few weeks ago. My only hesitation is that I don’t know how I could contribute bc I’m not a teacher, not crafty, not mathematically or scientifically inclined. As much as I like art & music, I have no talent for either, and we all no home-ec is way outta the picture for me too. It’s a great idea, but not sure how realistic it’ll be for me & Oli when the time comes???

  2. November 4, 2010 5:16 pm

    We’re with you (assuming we, also, don’t move from AZ)!

    There is actually a woman in Civano who has started a home-school co-op. I think it’s been pretty successful. We’ve been to a couple of events (yes, W was WAY too small, but I wanted to go). Good stuff and there are lots of resources out there for those of us who don’t have an education background…

  3. November 4, 2010 8:57 pm

    We’re on board too! Tonya, Theresa and I had a talk about this a few weeks ago, actually, so it seems like it’s something that we all have had on our minds!!

  4. November 4, 2010 11:57 pm

    I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot too (my thinking time is my morning walks). I’m not 100% sure if I’d want to do a total co-op where we each teach one day because I think I would like more freedom to explore a given topic if my kids were really interested in it. Also, we are planning on having more than one kid so I don’t know what that would do for the division of labor. However, I was thinking that if we could get a group of moms together we could teach classes the way they do in high school which would still give us all breaks. Also, I was thinking (in an ideal world) that if we had 4 moms working together for field trips we could each organize one per month and each assist someone else once per month which would give us a day off every other week…

    Anyway, I’m sure we could find a way to organize stuff to make it work and we have a pretty broad range of interests and talents to draw from. Plus, I’d be willing to bet that there are enough of us that we might be able to work out a couple of groups within a larger organization if we wind up having different ideas as to how to teach. (I’m leaning towards either Charlotte Mason or possibly even unschooling early on and then adding more structure later.) Also, there is a group that holds a homeschool conference in Phoenix every summer and you can get free admission the summer before your oldest is ready to start kindergarden. I am planning on going, but I bet we could make it a group trip. 🙂

  5. Heather permalink
    November 5, 2010 3:56 am

    Well then, it appears we’re all dabbling in this idea. Like Andrea said, we’ve talked a little before and I would certainly be willing to do some teaching IF I’m not still bound to my regular teaching job for $ reasons:) Theresa, that conference sounds interesting. I would like to find out more. I’ve always been a little against homeschooling because of kids missing out on the social aspect of school, but if enough people were involved I could be on board!

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