I am proud and happy to be a part of an elementary cooperative.
It is actually more than a homeschool cooperative. It is an elementary school.
But, it also serves as a co-op for my family.
We have opted to do a hybrid type of homeschooling.
A friend of mine calls it flex-schooling. When their family travels, they teach their son through unit studies as preparation. Among other methods.
When they are at home base, he attends a brick and mortar school.
For three years, my oldest daughter attended a public school abroad.
Two years was kinder. (Well it was pre-kinder, which was called materno, and kinder.)
Her schedule there was only 3 hours per day.
We supplemented her public schooling with homeschooling in the early afternoon.
Her third year, she entered first grade.
A longer session.
I thought it would be great for me.
By that time, her younger sister was born and I was trying hard – but unsuccessfully – to manage the business that my husband had purchased and then left.
A recipe for disaster.
Six hours in school and then home to complete homework.
Plus, additional work in English.
Did not work for her or for me.
Add to that weekends where I had to travel to deliver a product.
Two young children in tow.
That was the formula for an exhausted and cranky momma.
It didn’t help my daughter’s emotional state, either.
Every week, she came home with tears in her eyes.
Or she had a full blown meltdown.
Her father thought it was because she only wanted to be with me.
Which made him feel horrible.
But none of that was the case.
It took deciding to leave the entire situation for us to understand what was happening.
It was more than one thing.
First, there was far too much of a load on her.
Now, I’m not saying children don’t have the capacity to take on learning like sponges.
What my daughter was dealing with was more than an educational workload.
She was under an administration that would arbitrarily send the teacher/director to meetings during school days. That would mean the school would be closed for at least one day.
Which also meant a bumper crop of homework would be assigned to make up for the missed day. Homework that was not always explained beforehand.
And if it was, my daughter’s Spanish was is not that excellent to be able to understand the explanation fully.
My daughter did not like to have unfinished homework assignments. She liked to get them done so she could enjoy the rest of her days off.
This scenario caused her anxiety.
And, of course, she would ask me for help when I was in the middle of a writing project.
(By first grade, I had dissolved the husband’s business and started growing a business that brought me joy and fulfillment. I figured if he really wanted a business, he would be there to manage it. Or, at least, help.)
She also had a classmate who was very argumentative, manipulative and rather aggressive. Yes, I know. First grade!
Although her teacher/director was extremely caring, my daughter felt her mannerisms were a bit harsh.
Not saying the children needed coddling. My daughter was used to hearing requests made firmly yet lovingly. From me and her stepmother.
She was not used to hearing anyone raise their voice in anger or frustration.
She continually asked if I could teach her at home. Full-time.
I thought to myself, it might be easy. After all, I have plenty of experience homeschooling.
I started homeschooling my friend’s kids. Before I had kids of my own.
Then, my daughter until her father and I separated.
That following year, she was in a Costa Rican public school.
And loving it – for the most part.
But the emotional breakdowns were becoming too frequent.
The academic interruptions from the administration and public interviews were becoming too frequent.
Not only was it affecting her work, it was affecting my work.
And my home management.
Not that I was a Stepford Wife. I just like to be able to find things within an hour.
Enter the new Elementary Cooperative.
After speaking with the director, I knew this was where I wanted to send both girls.
My youngest would be of age to attend in January. The middle of their school year, but the beginning of public school.
In hindsight, it was a good choice.
The cooperative got the opportunity to work out the initial kinks.
So, when we started, it was more of a second phase.
Sunday through Tuesday, we homeschool.
That’s basically what dad asked.
He was concerned that the girls would not be in church.
We attend on Saturday evening.
Problem solved. And nobody out in the street on the weekend.
On Tuesday evenings, I send a report to the co-op teacher who then tailors the girls work based on where they are.
They attend Wednesday and Thursday. I volunteer my time to teach creative arts there.
After all, it is a cooperative.
And on Thursday, I have the entire school day to write, clean, catch up on sleep, or plan.
I know I will have that time.
I also know that Fridays are free days for us.
Most of my work is (or should be) done by Friday and I can be a mom. To enjoy my kids.
Yes, I know life can throw curve balls and interruptions.
But, I like being able to have a roadmap and a plan.