Five Things I Learned from Beginning a Co-op (or NOT Beginning a Co-op)

Yes, I am strong-willed and will make things happen!

I am a “strong-willed” person. I am passionate. I am a mover and a shaker. Can you relate? We’re the ones assigned jobs because others know we’ll get them done. This also is true when I get an idea in my head and I know I want to see it come to fruition. I WILL make it happen, no matter what. So when I got this bright and exciting idea in my head for beginning a homeschool co-op in my area, I thought, “Let’s do this!!” The co-op could meet at my church, and the moms could run the classes. My friend would help me with administration…and then it flopped.

Through this situation I have learned some great lessons.

1. Just because I am passionate about something does not mean everyone else is. I wanted this co-op to start on a firm foundation. I was going to model it after one of the local co-ops in the city. Two members of the co-op agreed to help me. And I had a good friend willing to partner with me to make this co-op successful. We finally all got together and through the course of the meeting I picked up on a hesitancy from all of the ladies. I was astounded! Where was their passion? I had a hard time understanding why they weren’t as excited as I was. It was because…they just weren’t.

2. Listen to those who have “been there” and “done that.” As I sat and listened to the two ladies who were a part of the large co-op, they continually stated things that I didn’t want to hear. (I’ll get more into that later.) But because of their experiences, I listened to their wisdom. I have always been a proponent for mentoring. Be sure you have a homeschool mentor. She is priceless!

3. Don’t jump ahead of God. I really do try to pray about everything, but there are times when I conveniently forget to lay something on the alter. This was one of those times. I was so caught up in the vision, and how God was going to be glorified through my work, that I forgot God Himself. I wanted God to join me and be a part of my plan. Experiencing God should be the other way around. God is at work around me, and I need to join Him.

4. Be Flexible. It’s Ok to be wrong. Sometimes we strong-willed people need to get a grip. I have a hard time being flexible as my plans change. But in this case I was flat out wrong to be planning this. It’s hard to swallow one’s pride and allow an idea to fall to the way-side. But I had to admit that this co-op was not going to happen. It was a great idea! Maybe one day, with the Lord’s blessing, it might still happen.

The beginnings of a great co-op.

5. Allow God to bless you when you least expect it. As a strong-willed person I can get so focused on what is being planned that I forget to notice what God is doing around me. I forget to look at people and friends whom I see on a regular basis. So when this co-op idea fell flat, I stopped. I waited. I prayed. And that’s when the blessing revealed itself.

It started as a conversation with another homeschool mom. From there is grew into a “how can we help each other” conversation. We discussed our similar weaknesses with art education and decided that we should try to meet once a month to do a structured art lesson with our kids. We’ve met for two months so far. Another family will be joining us next time. I’ve also spoken with two other moms who might be interested in taking field trips together.

Would you believe this is exactly what those mentor moms told me to do to begin a co-op? They told me to start small. Begin with two or three families with moms I trust. Formal co-ops are not necessarily needed for young elementary children. Focus on field trips and extension activities.

If all of the moms participate in this little group, we will have four 1st graders, four kindergarteners, two K4 preschoolers, and three infants and toddlers. Sounds like a great beginning to a failed co-op attempt!

Blog Button5Anne Marie is an Austenite and the author of the blog Future.Flying.Saucers. Anne Marie is proud to be a southern belle who is married to her Mr. Darcy. They have two of the silliest children in South Carolina. She has a Masters in Education specializing in curriculum and instruction and spent six years teaching in the private and public sectors of education. She is beginning her third homeschooling year. Anne Marie has a passion for Bible study and teaching the Word to adults and children. On Wednesday nights you will find her teaching Biblical concepts to Awana clubs at her church.

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