New and prospective parents often ask similar questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions about participating in our Homeschool Coop, our Waldorf-Style Enrichment Classes, and our Unschool Democratic Process.
Q: Do parents have required volunteer hours to perform?
No. Part of our current design for the membership is freedom from specific duties for parents. All parents are welcomed to volunteer and to offer their talents when it suits them. Often parents do to enhance the experiences of the group.
Our Coop model, however, relies on paying staffed instructors, facilitators, assistants and other professionals. While this may mean that our Coop costs more than a parent-led group, it also means that all families receive fair services that are not dependent on the skill-sets or availability of parents. In the past when we relied on “mom-power” we inadvertently let each other down when someone’s child was sick or when someone’s strength in helping varied from expectations.
Q: If I only enroll as a Member for $50, what can I expect?
Members, or member-only enrollment, gives your child access to:
- Clubs such as Odyssey of the Mind or Book Clubs
- 4-6 field trips
- Coop-wide events (examples may include Lemonade stands, craft fairs, parties)
- Parent resource meetings, such as curricula share events and guest speakers
Q: Are your instructors certified teachers? What process do you use to hire instructors?
Most of our instructors are certified teachers. We value teachers with expertise in areas that best support our Enrichment Classes and our Democratic Process Unschool. All instructors must submit a safety background check. Some instructors may be considered if they do not have current teaching certificates if they possess expertise we desire and/or have experience teaching the subjects we look to fill. For example, subject experts could include Yoga or Music who are not “certified” by a board of education but have other credentials. We may also consider retired teachers. As a private organization employing scant teaching hours, we use our best resources to fill each role. Parents may serve on hiring committees when open positions are being filled.
Q: Why do your programs cost so much?
Our programs may seem expensive but when considered on a program cost per week basis may be seen as a best value. Many of our nearest competitor programs run at a much higher cost. Our staff and our facility rental add to overhead significantly. But our core membership feel that the value is exceptional and many members have participated for 3 years or more. One of the most valued aspects of this Coop is our concurrent, whole-family programming — one stop shopping for all grade levels at the same time and with specialized instructors and volunteers.
Here’s a program-week breakdown by section rounded off to the nearest dollar at full cost (some program discounts are available but not considered here):
Preschool Time $16/week – each week features at least 2 hours of activity
Enrichment Full Day with Spanish $51/week – class weeks feature 4.5 hours of instruction; other days feature at least 2 hours of activity
Enrichment with Lunch $40/week – class weeks feature 3.5 hours of instruction; other days feature at least 2 hours of activity
Enrichment Morning Only $29/week – class weeks feature 2 hours of instruction; other days feature at least 2 hours of activity
Unschool Day $16/week – class weeks feature 1.5 hours of instruction and 1.5 hours undirected time; other days feature at least 2 hours of activity
Unschool Day (with drop off) $29/week – class weeks feature 1.5 hours of instruction and 1.5 hours undirected time while parents leave; other days feature at least 2 hours of activity
Q: What size are your Enrichment Classes?
We limit enrollment for class to 10 students. In our youngest programs (Salamander and Chrysalis), an assistant is also present for sections of class that enroll more than six students. Our program offers an afternoon Spanish class that varies in size. This class targets all language learners with a multi-dimensional curriculum and may include from 6 to 15 children of varying skillset.
Q: How will I know what is being taught?
Our Enrichment instructors send parents a weekly summary of what was done in class that day and includes photos. This is sent on our private member email group and saved to a shared drive for future access. These summaries are intended to help parents create a clear record for their homeschool portfolios. Additionally, all work product created in classes are stored in a Main Lesson Book that parents can review, borrow mid-year, and keep at the end of the year. The Main Lesson Books stay at Coop for continued use through a program year but are a valuable resource to parents in states that must check in with their local homeschool officials.
Similarly, our Ology Assembly facilitator for the Unschool Democratic Process, will also send a weekly summary by email with pictures. Parents will attend special class presentations for this group when students have work to demonstrate such as co-created class books and science fairs.
Q: What Curricula is used in Enrichment Classes?
The program director develops the curricula plan for the entire “school” by creating Unit studies from which each instructor customizes daily lesson plans for each class. The entire Coop learns about the same topics at a broad level but each class section is taught to their level. In this way, your whole family is learning about the same concepts and can discuss or reinforce them together outside of Coop.
The model for our program includes multi-graded class sets that each serve three grade levels. The curricula we’ve developed in house also cycles every three years, modeling the Waldorf Steiner-style of cycling content as an individual grows. For example, a child who starts in Kindergarten will cycle back to the first year curricula when she reaches third grade. But that child’s experience of the curricula content will change as she sees it from a new perspective and with different lesson techniques.