Today was the last day of co-op for 2012. The last day is always bittersweet. The kids can't believe it is over already, the parents are pretty much READY for the break. Not that it isn't worth it for us all. But, in all seriousness, it is HARD WORK. As parents, we get tired towards the end, but after a few weeks, most of us miss it and are ready to get back to it. Aren't we? Well, not always.
One of the hardest things about being a part of homeschool co-op with several classes is coming up with class ideas. It can be intimidating and overwhelming. We try to keep conversations open through our private email group. Making suggestions and requests is a great way to trigger new ideas. But even with all the ideas in the world, if you aren't confident with what you are teaching, you will probably get discouraged and not enjoy it.
Many parents think that they don't have special skills, or that they are not "good teachers". They feel overwhelmed just teaching their own children. The thought of being responsible for teaching someone else's children is scary. But, you CAN teach. You simply need to find out what you can teach. Ask yourself, What are my passions? What are my strengths? What CAN I do? Begin to identify that, and you will be amazed with the ideas that will come to mind. And if the ideas don't involve your child(ren)'s age group, go for it anyway. You may learn something about yourself in the process.
The first year I taught, not just "helped" in a homeschool co-op, my children were young and I did not feel very confident in my teaching ability. I had taught children's church for awhile, but not academics. I was sure the kids would know more than me. But I had a passion for crafts. Still not confident in myself enough to work with older children, and not patient enough to work with very young ones, I chose the younger elementary age group. It went very well. I didn't really teach, I just enjoyed making things with the kids. I worked my way "up" from there.
Another semester, I taught a group of teenagers Paper Crafts. And then, I moved up to Jewelry. By that time, I gained enough confidence to teach two classes each semester, and I usually opted for one "fun" class and one a little more academic. In the academic class, I thought about what was interesting me at that point in my life. Besides ideas based on what we were doing at home, often times I chose topics that I enjoyed or wanted to learn more about myself. A couple of years ago, I was curious about Pirates. One of the parents mentioned that a Pirate Geography class would be fun, and I agreed. I had no idea what that would look like, but I liked the name! By the time that semester was over, I knew more about Pirates than I ever thought I'd care about, and I discovered that maybe I do want to travel. Before that class, I had no desire to leave the country. I had taught geography classes before, two of them in fact. But this class...this class brought me to "new" places I had never heard of before. And I want to go.
Your passions may be creative, technical, or domestic. You may be talented in cooking, sewing, or with computer software. Find your passions and interests and make a list. If you still don't feel confident. enlist a friend to co-teach with you. Sharing the workload helps and keeps you encouraged. If you want more ideas to jump start you, here is another list of the classes we've offered at L.I.F.E.
Animal Science and Art- learned about 10 different animals and how to draw them.
Reading, Spelling and Fun- artwork with simple spelling words
Science- Electricity and Sound ( experiments and games)
Math 24 Game
American Sign Language
Magic School Bus (videos and activities)
Cultures and Cuisines- simple recipes with a study on originating cultures
Music- Intro to piano, singing, reading music 4th grade and up
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Middle and High School
Pirate Geography- geography and history study through the lives of famous pirates
Script Writing and Drama
Picture This (photography)- photography basics with a look at famous photographer’s work
Career Research-researching 7 suggested careers with guest speakers
High School Only
Homer’s Odyssey – reading and studying
Dave Ramsay Foundations of personal finance for teens Part II