There are often times when I think it would be nice to participate in a homeschool co-op once every few weeks. I seriously looked into it last August as a new co-op was beginning in my area, and I have looked at some in the past. What I’ve discovered has been disappointing.
There was nothing for most of my children to do but play in a nursery/preschool room for the entire half a day co-op, and at some co-ops most of my young children are not even welcome. Anyone under age 6 does not have actual classes to participate in. Why is that? Why are the classes rigidly age segregated? We love learning together as a group and 4 of my 5 children are under age 6!
We have another issue to consider for our family. Food. We live with a severe food allergy (to eggs), and any event with food has the potential for a hospital visit for us. Many times all the snacks offered at an activity are not safe for us.
The other problem I’ve found is that the co-ops never offer something we’re ready to study. Inevitably, if we are studying ancient history, the co-op offers American history. If we are doing life science the co-op has space science or physics for kids classes. Sigh. Nothing is perfect, but it always seems that we’re off schedule for classes being offered.
I have been praying about starting a co-op myself, with a group of moms I know through my church. I have investigated places we could hold said co-op. I have even looked at possible classes to offer. Nothing quite fit, as I really could not offer a large time investment to starting and running a weekly co-op.
Just this week God shifted my focus. What about a book club? A group where the babies and toddlers are just as welcome as the elementary ages. Reading aloud books is something we love to do as a family, and it is something that can include every age in the fun, including non-readers.
So I sent out an email to see if there was interest. The families I approached were not only willing, but ready to begin next week! Our plan is to read a book all month in our families. Then the first Wednesday of the next month we meet to discuss the book, maybe do a related activity, and then have snacks.
Yes, I said snacks! One of the perks to starting the book club is being able to set the rules, and one rule is that all snacks accommodate the food allergies of the children in the group. Believe it or not, our list of allergies for the group is:
- red dye #40
- strawberry jelly
- gluten (this one is not severe and can be eaten in limited quantities)
I am so excited! I will happily come up with snacks that avoid all those allergies. :)
Did I mention that between the 5 families that plan on participating we will have 23 children? Yes, really. Those range in age from infant to 12. There are more girls than boys, and I think we have a child in every age from infant to 12 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc), with more than one child at some of those ages. It is going to be great!
For our first meeting the kids are bringing a favorite book to show and tell, we’ll make some bookmarks, and then while the kids snack the moms will choose the first 6 books we’ll be reading. I’m working on a list of possibilities.
Do you have any favorite read aloud books to recommend? Please leave a comment or send me an email – I would love to hear from you!