Friday, May 2, 2008

On Being in a Co-op

Not everyone needs to participate
in a Co-op to Homeschool.
However, it can be very lonely
to go through the homeschooling process without
the fellowship of a co-op.

When I started homeschooling Jonathan
I did not join a co-op. I did not think
they were for me. After all, I was the
teacher and I knew what needed to be done
and why should I then go back to a classroom
type setting for anything...my thoughts.

Well, when I had all three kids at home and
we were in a new area the Lord led me to
a grocery store at least 45 minutes from my house.
I stood in the check-out line behind a very outgoing woman who
started a conversation with me.
Somewhere in the conversation
she asked if we homeschooled and let me know that
she did, as well. Robin was such a blessing to
me that day. I was a stranger in a strange land.

Before long we found ourselves invited to a field trip
with the co-op that Robin and her kids participated in.
It was the educational department of a huge pet store who
brought in all kinds of small animals and reptiles. The kids
loved it.

There were a few friendly faces that I will never forget from that
day. It just seemed that we should get involved. So we applied.
Yes, around here it is not guaranteed that you will get into the
co-op of your dreams...in Lancaster County there are so many homeschooling
families that most co-ops have waiting lists. This was astonishing
to me!

The Lord led us exactly to the perfect co-op for us.
To be honest it was not easy.
I, who can talk to anyone, had a very hard time becoming
a part of this group. There were so many established friendships
that no one really needed another person in their group.

The kids struggled to find their place...there were many days of tears
as we headed toward the church where we meet. But, I was committed and
for some reason I just knew that we needed to persevere through the adjustment.

That lasted for two years!

For two years we felt like outsiders...

Then there were some changes...

I began to teach.

My children began to make friends, very slowly.

One Mom, in particular, reached out over and over
again. She kept setting playdates for our children.
Jana has been such a blessing to my children and I.
As have Josh and Kristen.

Chelsea is so shy. It was hard for her to assert
herself into a group.

Wow! As I think about what I have written it seems
so negative up until the last few sentences. But, I want
to be real. It is not easy every time to come into a
co-op. To be the "New family". But with time, prayer
and diligent effort to serve it is worth while.

I am now serving on the committee and delight in reaching
out to the new Moms if they seem like they are struggling.
I try to hearken back to 7 or 8 years ago and remember those
feelings of not fitting in.

Our children have blossomed and have made forever friends.

I am spending time with the young people in my position as
7-up Coordinator and have found them to be delightful, loving
young men and ladies.

Ours is not an academic Co-op, so much as a support to our
homeschool program. If I am doing a physical science,
there may be a lab offered through our co-op.
If my kids need a boost in writing or speech, I'll sign them up
for a class that will give them a little extra.

In the classes up through the 6th grade, music and gym are mandatory.
This helps to fulfill the needs of group activities. It is
harder to teach these at home. Playing baseball with myself and
three kids is just not the same as forming two teams and learning
how to play together as a team.

Wow, I have meandered through many thoughts on this but I just
want to encourage you. If you have struggled through the
decision or even the first year or so in the co-op, and there is
no real reason for you to leave it...hang in!
Reach out!
Get involved.
It is worth it.

Many thanks to Deanna, Belinda, Jana, Rosalee, Suealyce, Dawn, Marla, Robin, and the many, many others who have made this a safe and encouraging place to call,
"our co-op".
I appreciate all of you so much!

There is a lot of sacrifice in leadership
but the rewards are far greater.

Take the risk. You just might like it!

Your Friend,
Becky K.

1 comment:

Mrs. Rabe said...

Very true words Becky. The first year of co-op was terribly lonely for me too. I then made myself more "involved". I signed up to teach, I reached out, and suddenly I was in the middle of things. My best and closest friendships are with ladies from this group! How I love them!