Monday, March 24, 2014

Co-Op Ideas

theist and apologists Atheist parenting homeschool secular parenting

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Many Australian friends are working on developing homeschool co ops for their families and are using their own initiative to create and structure their own co ops. Here in the USA a homeschooler can often find homeschool support/educational/or co-op groups. These groups are a great way to share your skills and to learn more from other families around you. A Co-Op means, Co-operative…sharing your passions and learning about the passions about others…for free or cheap! For example, our family is heavily into the hobby of astronomy. We have often offered observing nights to our homeschooling friends, while they offer their skills to US!

Dance Competition
As a family new to this form of sharing-the-love, you might be experiencing anxiety trying to think of something to offer your group. I know the fearful questions in your mind:  Do I have a skill? What am I qualified to teach? What can I do?

LOL…listen, I've been there.  
Fear not, for you have plenty to offer.
As you experience the homeschool lifestyle you will find it easier to think of things that interest you and that you wish to offer to your group. For now, here are a few ideas you might like to borrow, keeping in mind that your children might have ideas of their own because your kids probably have some great ideas about what types of activities they would love to share with their new friends.  

Road Trip, Baby!
Homeschoolers are all about field trips so I'm sure your family has had their share of trips to the museums, parks, zoos, nature areas, theaters, libraries, and cultural events.  Field trips have the added bonus of being a one-time activity, though I generally offer a list of field trips and activities to our co op. Although I have created this list mostly from my brainstorming, I have also included wonderful ideas that I have seen or heard of through my own or other homeschool groups. Have you thought about some of these places: 

Field Trips
  • trash pick up along the highway
  • Use the schedule of your town's public transportation and go tour your city
  • creek or pond exploration using Peterson's field guides
  • Geocaching
  • Answer phones for public television or other fund drive
  • attend hobby clubs offered in your city: rock clubs, robotics, astronomy, ham radio, rocketry, Toastmasters
  • Attend civic meetings and political rallies
  • Go to the airport
  • Road Trip 
    Please do not take pics
    in the senate chambers.
  • Visit a nursing home and/or day care center to sing or entertain
  • explore your library system, visit each branch in your town
  • mini golf, create your own!
  • tv/radio stations, newspaper
  • control tower at a small airport..very cool!
  • follow a creek and discuss how is oxbows, erodes, changes
  • tour the local university or college
  • tour a local quarry, utility company, city hall, water treatment, lock and dam
My experience with unique field trips is that my children have become familiar with how our town functions, they follow local news, and they have a real sense of belonging. We have formed real attachments to the places that we have visited and we notice activities involving these places. Also I have found that many of these places are more than delighted to have interested visitors.



Art work can be expensive, frugal, or free. Use the resources available to you within your homeschool co op to find others who are interested in exploring the arts and combine your talents and resources. A clever method of offering good co op classes is working with another family within the co op in order to offer the best of both of your resources! So double up with a friend and make the activity even easier to accomplish!

Our homemade game
Shoot for the Moon!
Homeschoolers tend to excel is in the arts. If you offer a messy activity at your home, other parents will truly thank you! I don't think it is possible for me to list every possible art activity here, but here are a few that I have either seen or offered or considered. This list is only limited by my imagination and memory at this moment.
  • Guitar singing in the round
  • clothing design
  • Tie dying
  • batik
  • Woodworking
  • Create a Game
  • Embroidering
  • Study of abstract art or artists
  • Artist a Week study
  • Docent-led tour of local galleries
  • Journal making
  • Mendi, henna
  • Gourd decorating
  • cake decorating
  • beading
  • film noir
  • international film study
  • make a video
  • paint a room
  • weave
  • clean up lot or yard of someone in need
  • Learn a Bollywood dance number
  • play dress up
  • dancing lessons with a big dance at the end, invite family
  • photography
  • beginning instrument lessons
  • explore poetry types
  • sewing/knitting/crochet
  • knots
  • One family we know has the kids paint their car!
  • finger painting
  • anime' class
  • anything with glitter or glue
  • study a film genre' or two
  • friendship bracelets
  • victory garden, from design to dinner
  • create a co op newsletter
  • create a co op logo
  • Make greeting cards
  • sing campfire songs
  • telescopes
  • write a one act play and perform it
  • make soap
  • healthy cooking
  • create art out of discarded junk
  • make paper
  • nature crafts
Outside Activities
As long as the weather cooperates, taking the kids outdoors is one of the best benefits of homeschooling. Knowing that we are in the sun and fresh air is a great way to remember "this is why we homeschool!" Playing in parks is a great activity, but there are more creative and fun ways to use outdoor fun as a co op activity. Here are some fun, easy, and cheap or free ways to take your lessons out-of-doors:
  • Create an obstacle course
  • archery
  • cooking over an open fire
  • cooking underground 
  • map making
  • geocaching
  • hayride
  • yard games
  • fort building
  • fairy houses
  • clean a favorite lot
  • scavenger hunt nature items without removing them
  • One wonderful mom that I know stages a full-on olympics!
  • bike riding and nature hikes
  • photographing architecture
  • photographing the letters of the alphabet
  • rocketry
  • gardening
  • team sports
  • jump rope games and rhymes
  • kite flying
  • tulip bulb planting
  • water play day 
Obvious classes to offer are weekly or recurring scholastic skill building classes that build on certain skills. Of course these courses require more organization and planning but they are very productive and fun. Scout among the other parents and families in your co op to see what kinds of things they can offer the group.
  • Current event, news review
  • Math tutoring
  • Poetry writing
  • Reading Group
  • First Aid
  • Toastmasters or public speaking
  • Sexuality
  • Fashion Design/costume design
  • Architecture
  • Philosophy
  • Critical Thinking
  • Bookkeeping, Personal Finance
  • Role playing Games 
  • Writing Group
  • Constitution and government
  • Drivers Ed
  • I taught an excellent English 1 class
  • Babysitting Skills
  • Science Experiments
  • Ethics
  • Pet Care
  • Poetry
  • The Human Body
  • Choir
  • One Acts
  • Learn the Presidents
  • Electrical Circuits and magnets
  • Biology, Chemistry, Physics 
  • Typing, blogging
  • Price comparison shopping
  • budgeting
  • Sign Language or other language
  • Historical Fiction
  • Pretend store using real money
  • Exploration of history
  • Measuring
  • Math games
  • Third World Countries
  • Write and produce a newscast
  • Research a new country each week
  • Using your PC
  • How Does it Work?  AKA:  DESTRUCTION
  • Learn about marketing and propaganda
  • Show and share
  • Create your own service project
  • Pokemon/Yugioh/other game
  • Volunteer in the community
  • Food pantry or soup kitchen
  • Yoga or meditation
  • exercise class
  • Careers, visit work places and learn about what they do 
Include the Family
The homeschool lifestyle is so unique and inclusive. We can actual include our extended families and friends in our activities! Groups of families and friends working together or playing together is another excellent thing that makes homeschooling such a rich experience. Talk to your relatives and see what skills or hobbies that they might like to share with your co op. One lovely woman that I know brings her mother to a gardening course on a regular basis and she helps us to appreciate the insects and other animals that share the garden space with us.  Grandparents love sharing their knowledge and passion with their beloved grandchildren and their friends. Keep is simple and fun. Other family-pleasing ideas include:
  • Golf
  • Yoga
  • Role playing games
  • Game Night
  • Movie Night
  • Grandma and Me Tea
  • Bingo
  • Making Stone Soup
  • Storytelling 
  • Formal dinner party
  • Camping trips
  • Caroling
  • Raise funds for the community, donate to a community project
  • Yard Sale
  • Take Sale
  • Careers
  • Learn history from real time stories
  • Living History Museum
  • Carwashing
  • Break baking
  • Manicures 
My husband's visage and handle
As the wife of an IT guy, I would be remiss if I didn't include some ideas about using technology and the computer. There is no doubt that the internet is an amazing tool that our children are lucky enough to have at their fingertips. Some websites have entire courses available; why not share them with the group? Here are a few ideas for using technology to offer a co op class:
  • Create a co op webpage
  • Learn to use MS Publisher or Paint or Photoshop or ...
  • Create a membership list or helpful links for your co op
  • Contact other HS groups and create a pen pal network
  • News Reviews by reading news from the point of view of other nations
  • Letter Writing
  • General WWW usage and safety
  • Kids teach adults
  • Use the computer to send letters to political figures about topics that are important to you
  • create petitions
  • Create Personal Books
  • Resume writing
  • Bookkeeping programs
  • Play computer games together (duh)
  • Design a menu
  • Design a brochure or handout for the co op
  • Create a calendar
  • Make greeting cards 

Costume  Design
The key is to keep is simple, make it fun, and follow your own bliss! Include your children in the brainstorming and planning phase! My children have come up with some wildly successful co op class ideas, from a Power Ranger Party to swimming at the local pool to scavenger hunts across town. Children enjoying getting messy and creating things and most parents would be THRILLED to have these fun events happen at someone else’s house! Volunteer activities promote wonderful growth in our children and are much more fun when done in groups. Check out idea books at the library for even more ideas. If possible, get your hands on Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Girl Scout, or other Scout handbooks for more great ideas, skits, and projects. 

Most parents sincerely appreciate academic classes that are difficult to teach. If you can offer something like that each semester you will be everyone's best friend.

 Can YOU think of any ideas to share?

1 comment:

  1. Love this treasure-trove of ideas! The thing I struggle with is that the only local secular co-op in our area is very fee-based. As in, you must take at least one "class" and pay a monthly fee for that class in addition to application fees and a fee for each semester. Don't like feeling nickeled and dimed. (In addition to the gas that it would take each week to participate, since the co-op operates a good half-hour from where we live.) Or am I being too curmudgeony?


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