Hi 3baby girls,
I run a CM inspired co-op - RCHA - that is going into its 2nd year now. Not all members school CM style, but most do and our classes, seminars, etc. reflect the CM philosophy. I left a much larger, more eclectic group that desperately wanted members to start new groups. The leader of that group has been my mentor for how to run this group.
Our group has 2 levels of membership - limited and full. Limited members can join us for park play days, field trips, seminars, Mom Chat evenings, basically anything we offer, except for classes. Full members participate in weekly co-op classes (2 hours of classes, once per week, 15 weeks fall and 15 spring). I strongly recommend those with just little ones to join our limited group. That way they are making friendships under parental supervision and the moms get encouragement and support from one another, in a very easy way. Now, with that said, our classes are very nice and help meet the needs or requirements of our families without just being an extra thing to check off, each class is 1 hour. This fall we will have the following:
- Nursery (infant - 2s or 3s)
- 2s & 3s Preschool - Storytime Adventures (story, classical music, art projects, play time, Bible verses)
- 4s & 5s Preschool & Kindergarten - Alphabet Adventures (book of the week, fingerplays, songs, simple science experiments, Bible verses)
- 1st & 2nd Grade - Geography & Missions (8 wks), 101 Things Kids Need to Know (7 wks - practical life skills) and Science Fun w/ Experiments (15 wks)
- 3rd - 8th Grade - Jr. EMT (one dad who is a fireman & paramedic is leading this very hands on and practical class)
- 3rd - 5th - Apologia Botany
- 6th - 8th - Writer's Workshop (Written narration will be explored through a variety of activities that will help the children utilize writing skills they already possess by writing on topics that interest them. We will focus on the natural development of writing through the use of verbal narration, dictation, written narration and analysis of good literature. Most writing will be done in class)
- 9th - 12th - Yearbook and Apologia Chemistry (outside teacher teaching college style, this is our big deviation from CM to give these kids a small taste of what to expect if they go to college)
Our other events include weekly playtime at the park (for those interested), monthly Mom Chat evening with mini CM lessons, 1 monthly field trip option, group specific events every other month or so (tonight the elem. girls had game night w/ the moms). I have offered SCM seminars twice, as well. We connect service projects to our other events (Christmas Dessert and Shoeboxes for Kids in Need). We have about 3 special events per term (Ice Cream social kick-off in Sept, Thankful Feast in Nov., Christmas Cookie Party in Dec., Family Field Day in Mar, Spring Banquet and Talent Program in Apr.)
We meet weekly from 9:30 - 12:00 during the school year and afterwards those interested head to the park for lunch and play. We require each adult to teach or assist during one hour of classes with the other hour free for fellowship with other moms (unless a substitute is needed). We also ask that everyone help out with something extra (either planning an event, setting up weekly, something).
Our group has ~ 35 families in full membership w/ ~ 80 kids. Our max enrollment is 100 and at this time, we're only taking families that have at least one middle or high school student.
Has starting and running this group been a lot of work? Yes, but it has been richly rewarding as well. My kids are meeting other families with similar values and beginning to form some meaningful friendships. I get to encourage and help others newer to homeschooling or CM than I. I am encouraged by having like-minded families to fellowship with. I wouldn't trade it at this season in life. However, if my oldest was 6, I would most likely have formed a support group (like our limited option) instead of a full fledged co-op.
I read somewhere recently about the many choices we have and though they may all be wonderful, we must be willing to say no to some things in order to say yes to what is best in that season of life. For example, I may have the opportunities to: teach a women's Bible study, take my kid to cub scouts, take another to gymnastics, help with kid's Sunday school, etc, etc, etc. All are fine activities, but what would God have me to do in this season of life? For me, it's being His disciple, a loving wife & homeschooling mom and leading my homeschool group. This means that I have said no to many other good things, but I'm at peace with that because I'm doing what He wants me to do right in this season.
So, my suggestion...stick with the fun stuff and then join the classes in a couple of years if they help you cover something that you want to cover, after praying for His will first.
Blessings on your journey,