I really thought that this year would be a co-op year for us. We moved to a new area filled with co-op opportunities. As I researched our options, I discovered that many of them were geared for middle school or high school kids. They offered nothing for our age level! The field trips were also way over our heads.
I finally found a co-op which had classes for all levels, including amazing sounding classes for the younger crowd. They offered hands-on science, global art, montessori preschool and so much more. The website made the programs sound incredible and the handbook and all information was detailed and organized. It sounded like perfection.
We could go 1 morning a week and participate in the classes as well as any field trips offered. You could choose the number of classes you wanted and they offered so much flexibility. It was what I was looking for!
We signed up and headed to the orientation night to pay our dues and meet the kids’ teachers. When we got there I can’t say I was thrilled at the part of town where the co-op was located. The building smelled terrible and it was mass chaos everywhere.
We went into the exhibit hall where each teacher was supposed to have a table set up to display class materials. Out of 4 teachers, I could find only 1. By the end of the night I had found 1 more. There were 2 teachers that I never met.
I got information about those classes as well as payment information. I learned that I would need to write 12 separate checks that night and shove those checks into a locker in one of the hallways. WHAT? What kind of accounting system was this??????
Each teacher had their own pay structure and had to be paid a separate monthly and supply fee. When you multiplied those fees by the number of teachers and classes we were enrolling in, it came out to 11 checks. Each month thereafter, I would need to write 4 separate checks. Then you had to make another check out to the co-op organization for registration. Since 2 of the teachers didn’t even show, I was unsure of their pay structure. All I was sure of was that it would be expensive, confusing, and time consuming. It would also cost me a fortune in checks!
I also had to find out what I would be doing during class time. I was dismayed to learn that because I had to stay on campus, I had access to the informal “study hall” room where I could sit in a chair with Ladybug. I would spend 3 hours in that room with not one thing to do unless I hauled it from home. Being stuck in a room full of tables and chairs with no toys, surrounded by students who were trying to study, while I tried to entertain a toddler (and in spring, a baby too) sounded like a terrible form of torture.
I sent Prince Charming home with the kids because they were overwhelmed with the chaos and confusion. I tried to stay for the orientation. I walked around aimlessly waiting for the meeting to start and had the opportunity to overhear several conversations of older co-op students. They were some of the most disrespectful, hateful, and rude children I had ever seen. Several were bragging about the things they were doing behind their parents’ backs. I couldn’t believe their discussions (or their outfits) and was shocked at their attitude.
As I sat in the meeting room, I started to feel sick. Either the A/C wasn’t on or it didn’t work very well and the room was sweltering. I started to feel faint so I walked outside. And there I cried. This was not at all what I expected. It was such a huge disappointment.
At that moment, I realized that co-op was not for me this year. I’ve tried and tried to work out the co-op situation and so far we’ve never found a good fit. I decided to give up on co-ops yet again. I boldly walked out of the building and haven’t looked back. Prince Charming unenrolled the kids before classes began so we didn’t have to pay any fees. I can’t say I regret my decision one bit.
I’ve learned that with this homeschool thing, I’m a bit of a loner. We like to do things our way, on our time, and on with our schedule. I like the freedom to take days off or to take field trips or to sleep in or to have a jammie day. I am going to keep my days free for impromptu meetings with friends or other opportunities that come our way. I guess I just don’t fit the mold of the co-op crowd and I would rather forge our own path.
Maybe I can accept that I’m just not a co-op mom.
So here’s to a new year as we homeschool our way and make our own memories! We’re going to blaze our own trails!