Friday, July 3, 2015


I talked to a mom the other day about co-op... One of the reasons we participate in co-op is because it allows us to have some fun things all in the same place, on one day.  It is a real time saver for us and allows us to have more time together through out the week.

She says to me:
Well, Monday nights we have a club, and Tuesday nights dance, and Wednesdays we have AWANA, and Thursday another club, and Friday we have a church activity.
We are planning to do field trips on Mondays next year, and maybe some moms events, and we want to do co-op on Thursdays, and we are out of the house all day on Fridays for a sports thing.
And then in the next sentence tells me how totally exhausted she is....

Mom, can I encourage you for a minute?  Can I tell you that there is no way to possibly "do it all" and that you really don't have to?

I recently read about some things that home educating moms need - and one thing a lot of us seem to need is permission, some one to tell us that it is OK!

You have permission to do things in the way that works best for you, and not really in the way that works best for everyone else. Remember the old Mom-ism "If everyone else was jumping off a bridge would you?"  No, you wouldn't, and it is OK to say "no" to some things, even if everyone else is doing them. Boxed curriculum not your thing? Skip it.  Tired of attending all those clubs? Drop 'em.  There isn't one correct way to home educate. Let me say it again, There isn't one correct way to home educate.  There isn't one correct way to plant a garden, or clean a closet, or plan your day.  Find the way that works for you.

You have permission to sit and snuggle.  Yes, snuggle your kids, read a book together, spend time just talking to each other.  I have three boys in Jr. High and High School and while they likely wouldn't call our time together "sitting on the couch snuggling with mom" they enjoy down time with our family as much as I do, and occasionally I get a hug, which is really nice.  The thing is, your kids aren't going to be snuggle-able age forever, please don't miss it because you had another activity to attend!

You have permission to follow your instincts.  Do you think you need to complete 47 worksheets about spelling? No? Then skip it. As you plan the coming year,  listen to that voice of reason which says, "Surely, this will be enough" rather than the voice of lack which coerces you with fear of failing.  Refuse the voice of fear.  I encourage you to form your decisions based on creating a love of learning in your child rather than your fear of "missing something."

You have permission to lose your car keys.  There was a season of our lives where I drove 5 nights a week to a town 45 minutes from my home, waited 3 hours while my kid was at practice, and then drove home for 45 minutes.  While my son loved playing football, and this was the only viable option at the time, we lost so much as a family.  We lost dinners together for 6 months (June - November)  We lost peace in our home and in our finances (that is a LOT of gas money!).  Do I regret the joy my child had? No, but I regret the sorrow that this caused both in his life and in our family life, and I regret the time that we lost together. It would have been alright to skip that activity sometimes, or to let a coach know that we couldn't attend 5 days, but only 3.  I wish I had possessed the courage to say something instead of over scheduling our family.

You have permission to hire a babysitter. One of the best things I do for my children, even though I don't do it for them, is date their daddy.  Spending time on my husband is a great investment in our relationship and the time we will have together after our kids leave home (which is closer than we ever think).  Being engaged in his life, and not just mom mode all the time, brings peace and stability to our home.  Sometimes we go out to dinner and a movie, and sometimes we grab ice cream and go to the park, dating doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be intentional.

You have permission to skip volunteering at the next activity.  As the homeschooling family it sometimes seems that the rest of the world thinks we sit on our hands all day.  This notion could not be farther from the truth, but still I am asked "Do you work?" and "Can you bring your kids early?" more often than I can count. Bottom line, our time is precious.  Spending it intentionally volunteering at a food pantry or homeless shelter or in a ministry where we are members- absolutely yes!  Spending it "serving" for yet another activity where hundreds participate and only a few help, something else entirely. It's OK to say "I'm sorry, we just can't at that time, we have a prior commitment."  and know that your prior commitment is to your families sanity.

You have permission to be jealous.  Be jealous for your children, as God is jealous for His children.  Sequester them, keep them all to yourself sometimes.  Develop the closest relationships you can with them, closer than their friends, closer than their grandparents.  Having these kinds of relationships between your children and you and your husband will make your family stronger.  Don't buy into the lie that having a close relationship with them makes you a "helicopter mom" or a "smother".  Having a close relationship with your kids makes you a fantastic parent.

You have permission to believe in yourself and stop comparing. You are a great homeschooling parent - believe it!  So what if Sally Sue's kids all have on matching socks and can quote math facts faster than you believed was humanly possible.  Maybe her kids are robots? Maybe she only buys one kind of socks and all her kids feet are relatively the same size? Comparison shopping is something you do when you buy a car, not when you raise a kid! God has equipped you for the task to which you have been called, homeschooling and raising your child.

You have permission to do something new.  Don't let fear control your decisions.  Have you been debating joining a co-op? Try it!  Have you been considering staying home more? Do it!  Have you been wanting to take a cooking class, or learn to dance, or try crochet? Go for it!  Far happier are we when we try and fail, than when we long for the courage to try. Lay aside all the excuses and try something fun, or quirky, or out of the box.  It might just turn out to be your best decision all year!

You have permission to let go and let God.  Trust God.  Trust Him with homeschooling; trust Him with schedules; trust Him with ministries; trust Him with finances; trust Him with your relationships with your kids; trust Him with your marriage; Trust HIM!  He is able to do more than we ask or even think, trust Him!  If a door closes, don't try to shove it open - just trust.  If a door opens, walk through with confidence and assurance that He will lead you. All of your fears, all of your worries, all of your late night prayers - take them to the Lord.  He will give you rest to enjoy the rest of life.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Understanding your Co-op or support group.

Every year about this time I get a TON of questions about co-op and while some of these questions are very surface like "What classes do you offer?"  Some are very probing "How much do you get paid to run this?"

So - I'm going to take a minute to explain some of the inner workings of ELCC - the co-op where I am a co-director.

ELCC was founded by a group of moms in 2009.  This small group grew into a larger group of families.
I am a co-director with my friend Lauren Slevin. We serve with a board of about 10 people other than myself.  Each member of our board is currently home educating their children and using ELCC to help facilitate that.  Practically, this means that 10 families, who attend co-op with you, are helping to decide how we run things around here.  We don't have an outside force telling us how to do it, no corporate office.  No member of our board is paid for their service.  No director is paid for their service, we do it because we love it - it is a ministry.

We are a 501c3 meaning we have tax exempt status - something we have worked very hard to obtain and something that defines who we are - the MEMBERS of the co-op own the co-op, the board and the directors guide the group.

Teachers receive 100% of the money that parents pay for class fees - 100%.  I don't get a cut of that as a director, we don't have a corporate structure that takes a cut of that - this isn't a pyramid scheme where teachers are on the bottom rung.  As such, we attract talented home school moms/teachers who are fantastic and sought after in our community, and they are HAPPY to teach for us. These teachers could teach anywhere, they could host classes in their homes, they chose to contract with ELCC.

Teachers who teach core classes for a full day (5 classes) and who fill at least 14 spots in these classes (which isn't hard)can make $100 per day that they teach - that is $2800 per year.  Teachers who offer specialty classes like Art, Karate, Guitar and Lego Robotics can make more (or less) per year depending on their sign ups.

I have heard some comments about co-ops like "Classes are hit and miss" or  "You never know the content you will get"  These may be true of some co-ops, but they are NOT true of our co-op.  Because we attract quality teachers, our classes are HITS!

We offer classes year after year (7 years in a row to be precise) of classes from TOP QUALITY curricula like Apologia Sciences (We offer 7 of these this year) and Institute for Excellence in Writing (We offer 5 this year) Math tutoring for kids 2nd grade through Calculus and History from Christian Liberty Press (We offer 5 this year) Art (5 classes this year)

In addition we offer something that most other structured programs do not offer - FUN!
Drama Troupe, Karate, PE and Dance, Guitar and Piano Lessons, Lego Robotics, Sewing Classes, Music Classes, Clubs (Hawaii club, Speech Club, Math Club, Chorale Club, Yearbook Club)

We offer milestone events like - Kindergarten Graduation, Dances, Student Portraits, Drama Productions, Student Showcases, Senior Portraits and other items, and Graduation.

If you are considering a co-op or community that is offering classes to students - ask some probing questions.  Those who have nothing to hide will gladly share their fee structure and pay scale for teachers with you, even if they are a for profit business.