One of our favorite homeschool happenings here at The Unlikely Homeschool is our bi-weekly gatherings with three other families for our homeschool co-operative. We've been apart of this group for the last five years...back when it was just an organized preschool play group.
This small handful of homeschool hopefuls determined to band together and support each other along the journey by providing a few extra curriculars for our, then, little preschool tots.
Since then, a few families have come and gone but our intent has remained constant...to provide a healthy social outlet for our children while imparting some exceptional educational experiences.
We began our group back then with a unit study concentration. But three years ago, with three and eventually four faithful families with fourteen kids ranging in age from nine to newborn, we evolved into a kid-friendly Book Club.
Each summer, we, moms, get together with a list of potential read alouds...both picture books and chapter books. After some brief deliberation, we begin to make our assignments for the up-coming school year. We set up a rotation of hosting/teaching and helping. Since we meet the second and fourth Thursday of each month from September to May, each mother agrees to host/teach for one month in the fall/winter and one month in the spring. We meet in homes and share in set-up/clean-up duty.
If a mom is not the host/teacher she is either assigned to be the "helper" or to be one of the two "baby wranglers" of that particular meeting. We try to include the littlest Littles as much as possible, but we also understand that sometimes it is more logistically necessary to allow them to play together in a play room or bedroom.
We, then, divide up potential books. We try to keep to a healthy rotation of one chapter book the first month and two picture books the next month. This pattern is repeated until the end of the year. Hosting moms are responsible to plan a thematic unit filled with hands-on activities that reinforce ideas from the book. In the last three years, we have participated in everything from miniature Renaissance Festivals to dinosaur digs from kid-friendly versions of a presidential election to our adaptation of the winter Olympics. Our scheduling of books is most often dictated by seasonal settings of the books that we have chosen for that year. Obviously, a fall themed book like The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Diane Arnold lends itself to some fall fun and should be assigned to the fall.
We also like to schedule in time to celebrate national holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day. We round out the year by organizing an end-of-the-year program where the children can display their completed projects and participate in a short staged-program for the viewing pleasure of doting family and friends.
Stay tuned for details on the nuts and bolts of our co-op morning schedule. But for now, take a moment to get acquainted with the four mommas of the group. You'll see them around these parts quite often. I hope their amazing gifts and creativity will be as much of an encouragement to you as they have been and continue to be to me. So, let me introduce you to (from left to right) the Deputy's wife, me, the Architect's wife, and the Announcer's wife (and her cute baby bump!) We welcome you to peek into our co-op from time to time and hope that you'll share your stories of great Stories with us...we're always in need of a great book suggestion!