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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Magic Tree House Book Club- How to Start a Co-op


So I mentioned in a previous post that I was doing a Magic Tree House Book Club with Elias this year. Thanks Jene for the great idea!  This is something she had done years ago with her oldest. I have been waiting for the right time to start with mine.  This summer I had asked one of my friends if she'd be interested in doing it with me this year with the littler went from there!

Now, so you understand, I've done co-ops before.  I've done science/history co-ops in my home, I've done volunteer co-ops, cooking co-op classes, Jene's Alphabet Camp co-op...and they all run differently and feel different. This is called dynamics.  One kid  (or one mom) can change everythingggggggggg.

Here's my advice on starting a co-op  (which simply means 2 or more families learning together!!)

2 or 3 moms may find that their little girls love reading Little House on the Prairie and decide to get together once a week to do crafts around that theme....maybe your kids love cooking and you decide to invite some friends over once a month to do cooking classes...maybe your preschooler wants some friends and you have 3 or 4 little friends over every week and you sing songs, do arts and crafts etc...THAT'S CO-OPing!!!!

It doesn't have to be complicated, formal, or expensive! Come up with the basic premise and throw it out there!

If you want your child to learn with others, see if anyone has the same they do!!  Someone needs to step up and offer a home, someone needs to offer a topic, someone needs to offer to teach, or you all take turns teaching...and voila! A co-op is formed! 

I would suggest that each participant be very clear in what they are expecting, and only join if it's up their alley. Example...I say, "I'm starting a co-op based on Writing. It will be 10th-12th grade level and will be ALL writing.It will go for 12 weeks. I will teach it, but each parent needs to supply the book, and each parent will need to sit in on the class and help out"  DON'T join if you have a 10 yr old!!  DON'T join if your child HATES writing and is always battling with you about it and is already threatening to be a little whiner on site, DON'T join if you don't want to commit to the whole time, DON't join if you're looking for a math class, DON'T join if you're not willing to stay there, DON't join if 1/2 way through you think they should switch to ART!   See what I mean?

Now, that doesn't mean you need all the answers before you look for participants, but you either need to have all the answers, or be open to suggestions. Example.. I say, " I'm willing to open my house for an Art Class. I can't teach it, so I'm looking for resources for either a cheap teacher, or another homeschool mom.  I can accommodate ten children. My kids are aged 7-10, so I'd like the others to be in that age range.... I don't know the cost yet,and  I don't really know much about art, so I can't speak about what it will be like, but I'm imagining doing artful things.....who's in?"

So, how did this one come about? I said, "I want to do a Magic Tree House Book Club with Elias this year.  The books are based on different periods of time, so a lot of history, but a lot of subjects will be touched on, science, math, english, reading, physical education, etc. All hands-on, of course, knowing me.  I'll do most of the research/lesson planning/teaching, unless someone else wants to take a week here or there.  I'm going to keep it el only projects that mostly require household items...might need everyone to pitch in with I'll email you if I need toilet paper rolls, or egg cartons, etc.  And maybe every family pitch in $5 every once in awhile for petty cash.  I can do 8 kids or so...hopefully all in that age range-ish. We'd meet once a week, at my house, time/day to be determined, and length of time on each book/subject to be determined by kids interest and material available"

My friend, Angela, was immediately in.  So, that made 1 boy, 7yrs (Elias), and her 1g6, 1b9, 1b11. 3 boys, one girl. Then we were on the hunt in our minds for more girls. We ended up with another friend who has 6 girls, 3 of whom would eventually be in the class  (with 2 littler siblings hanging out). Because all 3 of us have teens currently taking a biology class at our local support group on Wed afternoons, we figured, that'd be a good time to do our co-op!  I am only 5 minutes away, drop them off do ours, pick up the teens.  So, then we had 1g6, 1b7, 1g5, 1g7, 1b9, 1b11, 1g11.   Then, a friend of Angela's started homeschooling her 12yr daughter.  You know how it is when you start, looking for resources and we invited her in. Then we invited a friend whose teen is also in the biology class, who has a younger sister who LOVES the Magic Tree House books...that's it, no more!  That's 9 kids, ages 5-12 plus 3 babies/toddlers.

Everyone understood the time/place/reading beforehand requirements/cheap-low cost/hands on fun activity bent, based on MTH books.  So we started!  It is what it is.  Based on cool things I find online, some weeks have baking, some art, some PE, etc.  We've incorporated things the kids like, for example, the first week we played a version of Shark and Minnows,  called TRex and Baby Dinosaurs.  Now, every week they ask if they can play it. We've had Ninjas and Samurias, Knights and Serfs, Vikings and something......  They'ev also started to write little "extra credit" reports, or drawing pictures, or finding neat things to share with the "class".  The first girl that did it I printed out a free personalized certificate online and it was such a hit that now they all try to do something or another every so often for one. So, I've kept up printing them!

Anyway...I will post more on the exacts of what we do each week very soon! Meanwhile, below are some links that can help you set up your own co-op! Good luck!

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