Last winter, as I was browsing for class idea for the 2019-2020 co-op years, I realized that there are so many ways to go about it that it can become very overwhelming. Let me go back for just a minute and tell you about ARCH.
ARCH is in its third year, so we are still very young. We are not set in our ways yet and are still figuring out what we want to offer to our members during co-op time. The directors of ARCH are listening to what the members are asking BUT we cannot put all that on our shoulders. Parents have to step up and be willing to help make those classes come alive. We believe that our success depends on TEAM work, and the team members are ALL of our members.
Anyway, let’s get back to figuring out what kind of classes to offer. Seriously, while researching for ideas, I saw that some groups were offering exactly what you can find in your school. We have tested this idea and the feedback was a huge “NOT INTERESTED”.
Now, other homeschool groups offer co-op classes that are age group specific, meaning that they are just for high school students or middle school students, you see the picture here. This wasn’t an option for us either. We have families who travel an hour or more to attend co-op, and they might have a first grader, 3rd grader plus a high school child also. It didn’t feel right for ARCH to aim our co-op to one age group. We want to have that “big family” feeling.
Now, what else did I find out there? Oh yes, co-op was limited to a certain amount of students. We understood that part because everything depends on the space that you have access to during that homeschool year. For us, we were blessed this year with a great building so we didn’t have to worry about that, but we took into consideration the space in each class room and also how much the teacher can handle without going insane. So our classes have a limited space available for student.
Since we have Pre-K kiddos up to 12th graders, we have had to have a very wide variety of classes as well as different costs, so that our members could have something that works for their wallets. Yes, classes cost money because they require materials and since our teachers are parents and aren’t paid, we didn’t see it as right for them to pay the bill.
After all the researching, we finally came up with something that seems to work so far. We offer some High School credit classes this year that will last ALL year long. As far as the other classes, they are offered for a semester (12 weeks). Some of our members travel and they felt like that it wasn’t right to commit for a whole year, so a semester was working perfectly for them. Also, (let’s be very real here,) our teachers (parents) sometimes don’t want to commit for a whole year of teaching. It can be overwhelming and they need a break, so we can do a switch of guards if I can put that way with the teachers.
Let me remind you that if our members wouldn’t step up and offer to teach a class, none of this would happen. I know, this is the chorus that I have been repeating over and over today but it is true. ARCH’s success is not base on how good the directors are but on how much the members gets involved.
After a lot of discussions and work, the class list finally took shape. We offer Pre-K classes but it is limited to one choice per hour. Those little guys want to do like their big siblings, so they enjoy their time learning something. From art, sewing, engineering, PE and a lot more classes, I think we’ve got it covered.
If you are thinking about starting a homeschool group that will offer co-op classes, just give yourself time to come up with what works. Listen to your members and be ready to spend a lot more time choosing your co-op style. Just be willing to change to fit the needs that arise. I can honestly say that this is what we have been doing as a group, searching and finding our style. How many times have you told your child to just be them and not be influenced by others? Same with a co-op group! Don’t copy others, just be you! Directors and members will change with time and needs will be different. Just follow where God is leading you and your homeschool group will be a place where people like to be part of.
Now, as much as I am talking about the directors being involved in finding classes, we have one dedicated director who is in charge of that process. It is a very intense job at the time but she is awesome at making things happen! So make sure that you have one person dedicated to that job with the support of the other leaders of your group it will be worth it for everyone.