This week has been so quiet at my house. My children are enrolled in a music camp for the week. For three days in a row I had no children at home. That is a first for me. As a homeschool mom, I often don't realize that I need a break. Then, when the respite comes, I relish it because I truly did need it. That's how it has been for me this week. I have enjoyed the peace and quiet in my home. I drank my coffee and read my book in silence. I organized closets without interruption. I ran multiple errands alone. Wow. And God has used this peaceful week at home to refresh my spirit in ways that I didn't even know were needed.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to have my children at home and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. The almost constant noise and activity in our home is a testimony to the fullness of life represented here. I would be sad and lonely if my life was always quiet. But this week has reminded me to seek out the quiet moments more often. I need to take the time to be refreshed and rejuvenated -- to allow God to 'fill up my tank', so to speak-- in order to be a more patient and kind mother during the busyness of daily life.
Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me and for calling me to be your child. Thank you for my children and for always providing for our family. Help us to love You more. Help us to glorify You in our daily lives. Help us to make time for quiet moments and to seek YOU during those moments. I know that You long to fill us with your presence and love. Help me to remember that and not to become distracted by my daily activities. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Psalm 46:10a: He says, “Be still, and know that I am God...."
How are you taking time to rejuvenate this summer?
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I have had a rather tepid attitude toward homeschool co-ops over the years. I love some aspects of co-ops even while I dislike other parts. For five of my seven years as a homeschool mom, I did not ultilize a co-op. For two years, I did. In theory, I love the idea of a homeschool co-op. The social interaction, the group learning without jeopardizing flexibility, the fellowship with other moms…sounds perfect. In larger areas, there are even specialized groups for homeschoolers, such as fine arts co-ops. I love that idea! On the surface, it all seems like a win-win situation. As with everything in life, however, there are some pitfalls. In my rural area, there are not a lot of co-op opportunities for homeschoolers, but I have tried the ones that are available. Although co-oops have their positives and their negatives, we are excited that we are once again joining a homeschool co-op for the upcoming school year.
A few years ago, my children and I spent a year as part of the only co-op in our area, which consisted of two churches of the same denomination that had joined together for cooperative classes. Although we did not attend either of those churches, they allowed our family to join. Overall it was a great year with many valuable learning experiences. The best parts were that my children made some new friends that they got to see regularly, they were able to participate in group activities that they would not have been able to be involved with otherwise (i.e., PE, group discussions with their peers), and they gained the experience of accepting instruction from an adult other than me. The negative aspects involved the issues that commonly occur among group situations with children: Someone feels left out or is picked on, some children don't get along, etc. It is important to remember that the same issues that affect kids when they are herded together in school will also occur in a homeschool co-op setting, albeit on a smaller scale usually. The silver lining is that many caring mothers are present to help the children deal with such issues as they occur. The timing wasn't right for our family to continue with the co-op, so we left after only one year. For the upcoming year, we are enrolling in this co-op once again and we are excited about it. This particular co-op includes a mothers support group, which I am definitely looking forward to.
Last year, I started a new co-op in my area for only one year. I approached the women in a Charlotte Mason support group that I attended about beginning a co-op based on Charlotte’s educational methods. The women were interested and the Living and Learning Homeschool Co-op began with just two classes. I was the director and I taught the music class; a woman from the support group who is also a good friend taught the art class. It was a great year and I think everyone enjoyed it, but we decided not to continue it for next year. My friend who taught the art class is relocating to another state, so we needed a new art teacher. Also, I needed to lessen my responsibilities within the co-op due to a possible job change for my husband as well as some health issues in our family. The other women in the group were unable to take on those responsibilities due to their own family circumstances (i.e., new babies, too many other commitments, etc.), so the co-op has ended. God may have plans to begin it again in the future, but it isn’t meant to be for the present time.
Although it isn’t a co-op, I want to mention that my children were involved in a homeschool drama troupe for the past two years. It was a wonderful group that brought so many rich experiences into their lives! This drama class was honestly the best group learning experience that my children have ever had. Although I wish the ‘Encore Players’ group could continue forever, it appears that it may not. The teacher and founder has decided to enroll her children in a Christian school full-time. At this writing, the future of the Encore Players is uncertain.
It is amazing to see how God has always provided for the needs of my family, including my children's need for social interaction. At various times, God has used cooperative learning experiences as part of his divine provision and I am thankful that such opportunities are available to homeschoolers. Although it hasn’t always been perfect, my family has gained much from the co-op experience.
Have you been a member of a homeschool co-op? Has your experience been a positive one? Please comment below…I would love to read your story!