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deciding to join a co-op or Classical Conversations or something else


mommy5
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I have 5 little ones (3 school age) and I used to be very active in community type events (when baby 4 was a baby and before) since our 5th arrived (2 years ago) I've mostly stayed in the house.  I'm an introvert and have survived living like this but there are times when I miss being around other adults (and the kids playing with other kids other than our neighbors and each other).  So, I'm thinking of joining a co-op.  Any ideas or advice?  I'm also thinking of joining classical conversations which I've never done before.  How hard is that with 2 pre-schoolers/toddlers?  (We have a 3yr old and 2 yr old).  I need to make something work - it doesn't have to be every week but it needs to be more often than we are doing now...

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Do you have a budget?  If so, you need to consider that if you want to keep CC on the table. At least out here, it is not cheap. I think we paid somewhere around $650 for both of my boys last year (they were K and 1st). They do charge for the nursery at the campus I was at also, so you would need to account for that. If they are older than 3rd grade and you might do Essentials (done in the afternoon--it is grammar/writing/math) then that would be extra money also. You would need to pay for nursery care for any kids not doing Essentials during that afternoon period. Also you need to add in the cost for the curriculum--the foundations guide and CD's at a minimum--maybe around $75.  CC is obviously also a classical curriculum, and some families use it as their core. That may or may not be appealing.  CC is one where you would not "have" to teach. If they have a tutor position open, teaching would possibly save you money--it would require going through their training, but you would get money that you can apply toward the tuition. CC's morning usually runs 9:30-12:30 with lunch after, then the afternoon Essentials courses start at 1 p.m. or thereabouts.

 

For a co-op you need to consider if you are willing to teach. Most co-ops expect this. At our co-op you have to teach one class, and assist in another class. We also have cleaning responsibilities.  Our co-op is a mix of people from all sorts of homeschooling philosophies--we have people that are more Charlotte Mason, we have people doing A-Beka, Sonlight  or Classical, people doing an a la carte approach, etc. So, that kind of brings with it an interesting dynamic which I like a lot. Some people might not. I enjoy the diversity a lot. The class choices are geared more toward enrichment than academics. Think gym, art, science, music. You are committing to a full morning, perhaps 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Our co-op is fairly inexpensive. I pay about $150 first semester for two kids and $75 second semester. 

 

Our area also has a "drop-off" homeschool enrichment program. You can bring your kids for say a Lego Robotics class and drop them off and pick them up when done. You have no responsibilities. It does cost more than the co-op per class.

 

Honestly, if I was in your position I would visit any and all options you are seriously considering. You really need to get a feel for what the campuses are like.  Use your mommy gut--where do you think you and the kids will fit? Is this a good time? Should you wait until the 2 year old is 4, etc?  You can learn a lot by visiting a campus, sitting in on a class, and getting an idea of what the kids and moms are like.  Also, ask around if you have a local homeschool association to see if you know someone in a local CC campus or co-op. It is harder to start into a group if you don't know someone, but it is not impossible.  Best wishes to you!

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There are a lot of threads here with people debating the pros/cons of CC  (here is one really long one).   CC isn't something that appeals to my family, but I know a few families who do CC (not a ton -- it is not super popular in my immediate area), and some really do like it.  But I think I would want to suggest to anyone considering it that they read the pros/cons and see what their situation is like locally.

 

Not all co-op require you to teach -- the co-op my family has been a part of for 4 years now pays a few parents to teach and usually hires a couple outside teachers, so all parents (usually the mom, but some dads) assist in a class, but not all teach.   Our co-op meets twice a month for an afternoon, which has been a perfect fit for our family.   From what I read on here (and from hearing other real-life friends' experiences), co-ops vary widely so you definitely need to do your research.  Besides asking what responsibilities you will take on during the co-op meeting, it's also wise to ask what responsibilities you may have outside of the meeting.  One local co-op here requires moms to be a part of multiple "committees" to plan parties, programs, field trips etc.   For one friend that turned out to be a big reason she left the co-op -- the committee meetings and responsibilities were taking too much of her time.

 

Definitely check out other social options too -- there are "field trip groups" in our area that just do field trips and lots of ala-carte classes...that requires so much less commitment, but I know from having multiple ages of kids myself, it can be hard to find ala-carte classes that work well for all of my kids without going at too many different times.

 

Good luck!

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