by Katie, Grammar Tutor
If you were to rewind to this time last year, you would have found me (along with many other homeschooling families, I’m sure) in the midst of creating hopeful plans for the following school year. It was at this time that some of us local parents were looking for a classically based co-op that would complement our Catholic faith, and strengthen the way we educate and form our children. We found it in Catholic Schoolhouse–a program that reinforced key concepts by way of snippets of information set to song. Together, we embarked on the journey of starting a co-op from scratch.
Fast forward to the present and I am in awe of the God-given gift that CSH has been to us! While the benefits can’t be fully expressed (especially as we will be reaping them for some time with the connections we will continue to make), here are some that I must share:
- My baby can stay with me as I work with our scholars. He is not an interruption to our learning, but is instead a fellow peer whose presence brings the other scholars joy. He loves the attention that he gets from the young scholars during our learning sessions, and the scholars see that learning can take place among the youngest of children.
- Our youngest “scholars” in the nursery are loved and cared for by our dear friends and fellow mothers, and enjoy fun activities, stories and active personal attention. Not at all a daycare, it is better described as a home away from home. My nursery-aged children, who initially took some time to warm up to being in a room that I wasn’t in, now run right to the nursery room as soon as we enter the building. If they ever have need of me, they can come to me or I can go to them. This is the beauty of this particular co-op; we all step in as needed, and we work together to care for our children’s needs.
- Don’t be fooled into thinking the nursery kids aren’t learning – they listen and learn along with those snappy songs on CD. At age three and half, my son would often be overheard singing his skip counting by threes at random (often in church!). I love to remember the morning he came to me and said, “Mom, I’m hungry…Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria!” (We had been studying European geography; he sure can sing his countries!)
- My grammar level children are receiving exposure to essential, foundational knowledge with examples and experiences that are often much more than I could solely give them at home. Multi-step art projects? Check. Science experiments with real equipment and using specialty materials that I don’t have to gather and prep for? Check. Basic music exposure and theory? Check. Public speaking skills? Check! (This one is my favorite; I could write a whole new post on presentations and how we all learn from preparing them and witnessing them – I’ve seen such growth in my kids and the other scholars!)
- In addition, the scholars are playing learning games that they wouldn’t be able to at home. They are gaining experience working in a large group of peers, in small group cooperatives, and by partnering up with peers.
- I get to do the same, as we mothers come together regularly for planning our co-op days, or for simple evenings out just for us! It’s a true gift that, among all this learning, I’m enjoying sweet fellowship with other homeschooling moms. This is definitely a blessing, especially in the midst of a long Wisconsin winter. My children aren’t getting just a classical education; they are forming bonds of friendship that are true and real, built on faith, family and striving toward holiness and wisdom.
- Did I mention that I am learning more, too, and that my love of learning has been rekindled?
It’s been an incredible ride, and we all are looking forward to the next leg of the journey. Ora et labora!