We have been greatly blessed to be part of a Tapestry of Grace Co-op for 3 years now. This co-op is made up of 18 families who all use the same year plan of the TOG curriculum, and who have committed to joining together once a week for group activities that enhance and enrich what each family is learning at home. We only have 4 weeks left to go, so last night was our end-of-the-year Mom's Meeting, where annually we discuss our purpose and expectations as a Co-op - because at this time of year we generally need a reminder - and lay out what has gone well this year and what has not.
I love this group. It is so awesome how God has brought together a group of like-minded but very diverse ladies, most all with strong personalities and opinions, and a wide array of talents... and we have managed to muddle through three years of Co-op now and all still be friends! Sometimes we disagree, sometimes individuals get irritated or frustrated, sometimes our best laid plans just fall apart - but someone is always there to soothe or counsel or cajole or cheer or pick up the pieces and we keep going. Some of the areas that we discussed last night where we feel we've not been strong enough this year - having more regular mom meetings - one per quarter - so that we don't lose the big picture of the Co-op due to the focus on our individual classes; holding all our students to a level of accountability and preparedness each week; having a WRITTEN outline ready at the beginning of each unit for each class so that parents know exactly what their kids are expected to bring and have prepared each week. Writing has been a sticking point this year - some moms really wanted to add it while others felt it was too demanding! We decided to pull back on the writing and leave it to each family to do at home, but each class could do one writing project per unit as long as it tied in with the history or literature.
One thing that always comes up in our discussion is the fact the doing a weekly Co-op like ours means each family is basically committing to a 4-day school week! Every one of us has found that no additional school can get done on Co-op day - it just isn't going to happen! And Saturday school doesn't go over so well either. So math, science, grammar, writing, reading, foreign language, art, music.... everything else has to be done on Mon.- Thur. This is a significant burden - especially for those with lots of kids! Also, the pace of TOG is pretty fast, and many families long to slow down and linger in a certain time period, but the commitment to Co-op means you have to go at the Co-op pace! But as we went around the table last night, I think everyone agreed that the sacrifices are worth it. In the grand scheme of things, the benefit of the Co-op experience - discussing and debating the historical threads, digging into the literature, creating art projects, holding quarterly Unit Celebrations, sharing all this with a group of friends (misery loves company) - outweighs the sacrifices. So Co-op, to me, is a burden that is also a blessing I'm most grateful for.