Monday and Tuesday are two of my favorite days of the week. Usually, Monday is reserved for the sluggish way we get back into a work week or the day we “start school” again. At the Orr house, our Mondays and Tuesdays are reserved for shared teaching. Yes, you read correctly, shared teaching. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy teaching my children, very much, in fact. There are times, however, that we need a little something extra.
Shared teaching, or a home school cooperative, is best explained as a way for parents to team up for the purpose of teaching one or multiple subjects to a group of students. Our family has participated in several types of cooperatives, but my favorite are the ones we host in the comfort of our home.
Monday is filled with the intimate discussions of nine high school students and several moms as we discover our own faith and view the world through the eyes of Jesus Christ. The students spend time at home reading the material and working through their Worldview Primer during the week, and we discuss the material together in a book club fashion during our two-hour class time. When discussing the individuality of each Christian’s path to his or her own salvation story, we plant flower bulbs and compare the care given a bulb while patiently waiting for a flower, to the way God cares for us as He awaits the flowering of our faith into an acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice. As we have watched the flowers blossom, each in their own time, we have been reminded that everyone blossoms in God’s timing, not because of anything we can do on our own. A great visual reminder of an important lesson.
Tuesday hosts a cooperative science class of 27 students ranging in age from elementary to high school. I know it sounds crazy, but the warmth of friendship and the sounds of laughter have been the fuel behind the success of our shared teaching time. By allowing the students to spend time together doing science experiments and lab work, completing their study guides, and participating in quality discussions over material they may not quite understand, we have created an opportunity for our children to learn to work together. They experience different personalities and discover new ways to complete schoolwork successfully. By choosing a curriculum that offers a daily schedule, it’s easy for all the students to stay on pace.[bctt tweet=”The warmth of friendship and sounds of laughter fuel the success of our #homeschool #KeepTXFamiliesFree”]
If shared teaching is something you would like to try in your home, or in the home of a buddy, then take a look at the five simple steps below to start your own home cooperative:
- Take time to think. Before beginning any new endeavors, take time to think about your purpose. What are you trying to accomplish? With whom might you enjoy teaching? If you are looking to begin with a short-term class, what subject might provide a fun start? Perhaps you could begin with some short Bible or book studies, take a look at different time periods, or do a review of the United States, region by region.
- Reach out to home school friends. Think about families with whom you enjoy spending time. Maybe it is a family from church or those fun kiddos from the last couple of support group field trips. Make the most of this time by carefully choosing your learning and teaching partners.
- Start small. Don’t feel the need to start your shared teaching time with a large number of students. You may share teaching time with as few as one additional family.
- Decide what material you will share and how the responsibilities will be divided. Science, history, literature, speech, or art are all ideas of subjects with which you can share teaching responsibilities. For our Worldview class, the material is divided into two portions. The first is an overview and discussion of the materials, and the second, a writing portion, is taught by my good friend, Emily. For our science cooperative, we divide into grade appropriate groups, each doing a separate Apologia science curriculum; biology, general science, and land animals.
- Create a plan and get started! Set a written schedule, list student and parental expectations, and allow time for preparations. Starting off on the right foot will make the concept of shared teaching much more satisfying and will create a pattern of excellence for years to come.
Whether you are considering ways to enrich your family’s home school experience or are looking to simply have fun learning, shared teaching is one way to achieve both. A great way to research materials for your home school and cooperative is to attend the THSC Conventions in Arlington on May 5-7, 2016, and in The Woodlands on July 21-23, 2016. THSC hosts a fantastic exhibit hall full of curriculum and a variety of qualified speakers to bring suggestions and insight into all your teaching opportunities.[bctt tweet=”Hold the curriculum in your hands to decide if it’s right… Join me at a #THSCConvention #homeschooling”]
Plan today to attend Convention and begin a shared teaching experience that will bless you as much as it will bless your students!
Also, don’t forget that THSC members (one adult and a spouse or grandparent) attend Convention for free. Join today and support the mission of THSC; then come to Convention on us!