Monday, November 18, 2013

Homeschool Co-ops - Our choice instead of preschool!

As the weather has been getting cooler and the lazy days of summer turned into fall, I'd been looking for classes and activities for Little Man and Little Lady.  We currently participate in play groups and play dates, but I've been looking for something more structured for Little Man.

Doing a little learning at the Children's Museum
Not that there is anything wrong with this, but he is always in our home or our daycare provider's home - and mainly with Little Lady and babies her age.  When we do have playdates out of the home, it's either groups mainly of Little Lady's age or one on one playing with friends his age.
As he gets a bit older, I'm really looking for him to participate with a larger group of children his age in more varied experiences.  Some of the classes we've taken in the past were great, but focused more on his individual skills and not necessarily interacting with others during those courses {like swim class, etc.}.

But I am not ready for preschool yet.

I know that a lot of parents start really early with preschool or nursery school, even at the age of 2.5 as Little Man is now - but for our family that isn't an option yet.  I don't think Little Man would be immensely comfortable if I just took him to a class and left him there, and at this age I'm 100% supportive of his need to be near DH, myself, or a trusted caregiver all the time.  While I completely believe that independence is an important skill to learn, I also feel that understanding you can rely on the people who love you to support you and keep you safe is just as important.

I'm not saying that he wouldn't be safe or supported in a class without me present - I just feel that for our family at this stage, it's not a path either parties are willing to walk down just yet.  I mean, he's only two for goodness sake.  We have plenty of years ahead for him to be away from us, and we plan to enjoy the years where our children want and need to be close by as long as they'll have us in some scenarios.

In my search for something slightly like preschool but not - where Little Man can interact with other children, learn new things, and experience new environments but at the same time be with both Little Lady and me - I came across our local homeschool co-op.

Indianapolis is fantastic in that there are multiple homeschool co-ops, and we found one that fit perfectly for our family and our needs.  Small class size, secular, encouraging of parent involvement, understanding about babywearing and breastfeeding and keeping Little Lady with me until she's old enough to participate, children Little Man's age, and in general completing tasks and curriculum just like a typical preschool would as well.

After visiting that specific homeschool co-op to check it out, watching Little Man interact with a few of the children and participate in a few of the activities, and being able to chat with a few of the other parents - we immediately signed both the kids up for the baby/toddler class.

Since the co-op is only one day a week, we don't have to sign up to send the kids off five days a week or be away from home more than we're there.  It's just enough to provide that structure and social interaction Little Man needs right now, without being too much.  Additionally, the cost of the preschool homeschool co-op is, like, a ridiculous amount less expensive than every other preschool I researched in our area.  And when I say less expensive, I mean by - in some cases - hundreds of dollars less.

While I was signing the kids up, I was able to chat up a few of the parents with children currently enrolled, and felt like my thoughts and views really corresponded with theirs.  When I talked with them about my concerns of finding a community of homeschoolers in our area so we wouldn't be on an island if we decided to teach our children ourselves, one of the other mothers responded with exactly what I needed to hear - that they'd been concerned with the same issue.  The other mom had wrestled with homeschooling her children at first, but through this group and several others in our area had found their community to a point where she said they often had to turn down extracurricular activities because they do so much.

We started classes a few weeks ago, and I am so glad we opted for homeschool co-op as opposed to preschool.  We're all loving it!

Has anyone else chosen a less typical schooling option?  What do you do for your children's preschool or school?

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7 comments:

  1. Hi! I'm so interested to hear more about the homeschool co-op! We're in a very similar situation with our little guy who's 2 1/2 and our little gal who's 2 months. I feel exactly the same way you were describing about being ready to send him off to preschool, and I'd never heard of the homeschool co-op option.

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    1. Hi Erin! The homeschool co-op we attend is a rather large group, with plenty of families of all ages. It has classes for all ages, from the nursery to high school. There are several in the Indianapolis area, some religious and a few secular, this being a secular co-op. As a co-op, the parents plan all of the curriculum and lesson plans, so the cost is low and mainly just covers supplies and wherever hosts the co-op. The parents are also obviously present {although some of the parents split time between their different childrens' ages}. If you have specific questions, post them here and I'll be sure to answer! :)

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  2. This sounds so great! I didn't realize there was such a thing! The Mister and I have been talking a lot lately about the possibility of homeschooling The Sophster, but I really love the idea of a co-op for social interaction! I'll def be looking into trying to find one around here.

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  3. I'm glad you found something that works so well for your family!! I will not be homeschooling, but I love the idea that there are getting to be more and more alternative education options.

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  4. That sounds wonderful! We will also be homeschooling. I was homeschooled and could not have asked for a more wonderful primary or secondary education! My husband was blown away with the amazing educational statistics and is 100% on board. :) We will definitely join a homeschooling group, also. I can't wait!

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  5. DD goes to a Montessori school a few times a week where we abandon her for a few hours each time.

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    1. Lol. I definitely think that different choices feel right for each family, and I know our choice wouldn't feel right for others and respect other people's choices for their own family. I attended public school and feel that I had a very supported, comfortable, happy childhood and education. What works for your family is what's best for your family. :)

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