Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting Ready for Back to Co-op.

My kids have been excited about finally being able to start another year with our fabulous Catholic co-op, and so have I!! This year we're beginning a little later than usual, but it works out since it gives us plenty of time to adjust to being back to school first.

I know I've written about our awesome little group before and it's still just as great! This semester we have some new families joining us and I know that they will love it as much as our family does! All the families in our group are super nice and I'm glad that I can call them all friends. It's really great to be able to catch up with everyone once a week and have the kids learn and play at the same time.

Of course, our co-op is truly a cooperative in every sense of the word. Unlike many homeschool co-op's out there that seem to function like schools with enrollment fees and class fees on top of supply fees...our group remains free except for class supplies. It's not a "drop your kids off for the day" type of group either. Everyone participates in some way or another. In my opinion, this is what makes it so great.

Parents have so much invested with the group time-wise, that mediocrity is not common in our group. Every mom either teaches a class, assists in a class, or watches kids in the nursery. Everyone works together! It's like a little bee hive!! This year, I'm teaching 2 classes! Before Five in a Row and K-1 science. I'm really excited about it.

Lucky for me, with BFIAR, I've not only taught it at co-op last semester...but I've used it with my own kids 3 times already! This has made my prep time a breeze and I know what's going to work with a group of preschoolers and what's not. I've even got all my activities set out already.

As for science for the kindergarten and 1st grade group, I'm going to be using The Magic School Bus: Back in Time with the Dinosaurs science kit. Everything I need is in the kit and each child is going to have their own kit. And if you want to look at either one of my syllabi for the semester, they are here.

But here I am veering off course as to what I really wanted to write about. The excitement of a first day back at co-op! We usually just leave the "first day of school" celebrations for our actual first day of homeschool. But this year my good friend, Tina, gave me an excellent idea. Why not make the first day of co-op just as special? After all, it's the closest thing the kids have to going back to "school."

Tina mentioned buying a back to school outfit for her girls (who are absolutely adorable!). It got me thinking...what a great thing to do! Why not expand on this and make a little more of it? Seeing old friends, teachers, and new classes is certainly something to celebrate and be excited about! So here is what we are doing!

Back to School Outfit.
I fell in love with the Gap's American in Paris and True Colors collection! Perfect for a back to school outfit! I remember getting excited about putting on new clothes and shoes for back to my kids will get to do the same!

Yea...they've been in the same backpacks for a couple of years now. This year why not get a new one? And their "old" ones (they're not even really used!!) can go to some needy kids. And no backpack would be complete if it wasn't stuffed with all their new books, binders, and supplies! **Just a quick note about supplies....we usually separate our homeschool supplies from our own school supplies. This means that their backpacks and supplies for co-op really only get used at co-op.

Back to Co-op Picture.
Every kids needs a picture to look back on!

School ID.
Great for clipping on your backpack or on a field trip. Yea...homeschoolers don't really need them, but I have actually found them to come in handy! From getting student discounts to using as a basic ID; our school ID's are fun! I've been printing them out for the kids since they began their homeschool journey.

A Walk to the "Bus Stop."
I thought this was hilarious. Marco recently asked me, "Will we ever ride in a school bus?" as we drove next to a yellow bus full of kids. I told him we already's called our van! So I told them that on the first day of co-op they could go to the "bus stop" (aka, the end of our long driveway), and wait to be picked up. They loved the idea!!! We do drive a 12 passenger van after all and that seems to be good enough!

It's funny how as a homeschool mom, I keep trying to recreate a "real school" feeling for my kids. I think it's not because I think they are missing out on anything; but because I feel like I am. And it's only the little snippets that I miss. Having always gone to public school, I still clearly recall getting those butterflies in my stomach as I walked into a new classroom. Or how I would be so excited the night before the first day of school, that I couldn't sleep. When I was young, I always imagined those feelings would come back once I had my own kids go off to school.

But I am so thankful that I do get to teach my kids at home. They are getting the kind of education and lifestyle that I would have loved as a kid. The best education and the best family life. I wouldn't trade this for the world! So if I can just recreate the fun parts of a "real" school, then I'm all good! It's all about making lasting memories for both them and me.

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