Walking into our homeschool setting may cause questions as to just what we are. On any given weekday (except Mondays), you’ll find two moms, one babysitter/housekeeper/all-around-right-hand, one extremely occupied dad and seven energetic kids (including three fosters).
Each day we go about the business of learning and educating in at least two languages. And each day we enjoy learning and educating those outside our blended family about permaculture and sustainability.
That is, how to naturally use the resources God has given us while working to make sure we leave plenty for the next generation.
It’s a mission that has brought 10 separate pieces together into a fully functioning and loving blended family.
A family that includes 7 happy kids:
- 1 kid who understands mostly English
- 1 kid who understands mostly Spanish
- 3 kids who understand only Spanish
- 1 bilingual kid, and
- a baby
So, exactly how do we educate this mixed bunch?
It really does take a village.
Our blended family is the definition of a homeschool cooperative.
And that definition is…
According to Wikipedia:
“A homeschool cooperative is a cooperative of families who homeschool their children. It provides an opportunity for children to learn from other parents who are more specialized in certain areas or subjects. Co-ops also provide social interaction.”
This model works great for us. Because – technically – we are three families rolled into one.
All the fun of a large family AND we get to joyfully share the responsibilities while sticking to our areas of expertise.
Of course, it took some time and testing to arrive at what currently works for us.
We had to figure whether the homeschool cooperative model could work for our situation.
Here’s what we figured we could (and could not) do. See if you can identify.
Reasons you can (or can not) co-op
You CAN have time to boost your income
When I started homeschooling, I was fascinated by the idea of homeschool cooperatives. But living in rural Costa Rica hardly allowed for that experience. My nearest homeschooling neighbors were 25-30 minutes away. And they didn’t quite work on the same schedule as I did.
So, I searched for an alternative. A co-op where moms, dads, and kids would be comfortable.
We were blessed to find a cooperative where both my kids thrived. I even served as a music teacher for one of the arts sessions there in exchange for a tuition waiver.
Being able to deliver the girls to a cooperative also gave me time to earn money as an online music teacher. Since they were in school three days a week, I took that time to work on a ‘side hustle.’
I continue to teach online music classes. My students’ parents have even asked me to develop more advanced courses.
Co-ops CAN offer kids consistent instruction and ‘socialization’
My kids received all their required basic subjects (ELA, Math, Science, World History). And they enjoyed time with their Spanish teacher, fine arts classes, cooking classes, and alternating sports sessions that included aerial acrobatics, soccer on the beach, and swimming.
My children loved the accepting and non-judging environment that the teachers and students created.
At home, we still have all the core subjects, fine arts, cooking, sports, and swimming. In a bilingual atmosphere.
And socialization? Not anything I fret about.
If it’s too far away, you CAN NOT maintain the pace
Unfortunately, after time, the commute to the co-op completely sapped the energy out of me.
On an easy day, the drive was two hours there and back. If I had anything that needed to be done back home, I spent four hours on the road.
The farthest I drive now is five minutes from one house to the other. It has done wonders for my energy level.
You CAN NOT add another thing to your schedule
During that time, my friend (and oldest daughter’s stepmother), was asked to take in her nieces and nephew until they could be placed in a permanent situation. And her father asked if I would take on the role of COO for the community. I agreed to help in any way I could.
However, I couldn’t see how I was going to be able to do it all.
Something had to give.
Making a switch
So, we made a switch to a homeschool cooperative model.
What I love about the homeschool cooperative model is how inclusive it is. Being a blended and foster family does not have to hinder.
Is the homeschool cooperative model what you need for your current situation?
A big thank you to Indasa Butler of Single Parents Homeschooling for writing this article.