Homeschool coop forms in region
By Kathleen Clark
PALMYRA (May 16, 2018) – Homeschool families in the area have a new opportunity this year. The Riverbend Homeschool Cooperative has formed to serve families in Madison, Macoupin and Jersey counties.
One of the founders, Wendy Howard, says this co-op will focus on the fun, elective side of learning. The co-op offers a variety of homeschool enrichment classes, field trips, park days and service work to compliment a family’s at-home studies.
There will be an assortment of hands-on, experiential learning classes for each group. Examples include “Around the World,” “Cultures,” “Magic School Bus Science,” geography, cooking and karate classes. There is a Montessori-style class (this is a system of education that seeks to develop natural interests and activities as a way for children to learn) for hands-on nature learning. There will also be history, arts, science, physical education and language arts classes.
The school day is divided into four blocks of class times and students will be able to choose classes that interest them. Classes are now available for students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Howard explains this is the co-op’s inaugural year and is hopeful classes will offered for grades 7-9 in the near future.
There is a nursery available for siblings while students and parents attend, and help, with classes. Parents will have their own jobs within the co-op. They will be leading many of the classes as well as serving as class volunteers throughout the day.
The group’s field trip coordinator has begun planning trips to places such as the Lincoln historical sites in Springfield, Cahokia Mounds, St. Louis attractions and historic Alton sites.
The need for a co-op was realized after a number of homeschool families in the area regularly met at a local park. Many families were interested in expanding on their park meetings to include some experiential learning opportunities. Homeschool co-ops are available in some areas, such as Edwardsville and Collinsville, but Howard points out that is a lot of traveling and can carry a substantial cost. She says there are a large number of potential members in the area. “There have been 65 families that have expressed intent to join the co-op.”
Howard explains that parents chose homeschooling over conventional schooling for a number of reasons. Some families want more one-on-one attention for their kids or are not satisfied with the Common Core methods of teaching employed at public schools. She says there are some families that have chosen homeschooling over conventional schooling due to bullying or because they are not happy with the school’s curriculum. “Homeschooling is a good option for families that want to tailor their child’s educational experience and it gives the parents more control of their children’s education.”
“A question we always get asked is ‘What about socialization?’” comments Howard. “The truth is, we get a lot more socialization now than ever. And, it’s a better type.”
The mission of the co-op is to provide a fun, safe, economic friendly environment for homeschool families to gather and learn together. Howard explains this is not a religious-based cooperative, “All faiths are welcome. We are an inclusive group with no religious affiliations. We promote love, kindness and compassion. It is a secular co-op; we are open to everyone.”
Howard says an individual interested in teaching a class at the co-op does not need to be a member. The Riverbend Homeschool Cooperative website, riverbendhomeschoolcoop.com, has information available to those interested in volunteering to teach a class.
Classes will be held each Friday beginning Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cartwright Building on East Vine Street in Brighton. Enrollment in the co-op is $125 with minimal costs for each class. Inquiries and enrollment can be addressed on their website or by calling Howard at (618) 372-3021.