(Photo by Michael Fischer)
"We want this to be a fun experience," Beth Dean said. Dean home-schools her two children, Sarah and Isaac, and was heavily involved in forming the co-op five years ago.
The co-op meets every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:15. Twice a month, the students take classes at DaySpring Church, taught by the parents.
"Every parent helps in their own way," Dean said.
The state of Iowa requires that home-schooled students be taught academically by their parent, so the classes at the co-op are often opportunities the students wouldn't receive in their own home.
"The academics happen at home and the fun happens at co-op," Kim Grimes said. "The co-op helps my kids learn things that aren't as easy to learn at home, like art projects, science experiments and P.E."
Grimes participated in a co-op prior to moving to Spencer and has been with SCHC for the past four years. She's been home-schooling for 13 years.
"The co-op provides group interaction and accountability," Karen Hassman said. Hassman has been home-schooling for 15 years. "We also enjoy knowing every Tuesday afternoon is an activity or class."
The activities are categorized by age group. Different classes may be offered each year given the parent teaching the class. This year, kindergarten through second grade students participated in science experiments and art or craft activities. Third grade through sixth grade students took creative writing and art class. Seventh through twelfth grade students took government, entrepreneurship and art class. Because it was also an election year, the government class learned about the election process and conducted a mock election of their own.
After classes, the entire co-op goes to the Spencer Y for P.E.
"Every student from the co-op gets to experience learning in a classroom setting," Marcia Morse said. "For my oldest, the co-op was a blessing because he was able to be around other kids, something he missed about public school. His best friends are from the co-op."
Morse has been home-schooling for five years, and was also involved in forming the co-op.
On the weeks the co-op doesn't meet at DaySpring, they go on field trips or participate in service projects around the community. Activities also include trips to the Animal Medical Center, the Clay County Fair and Poppe's Pumpkin Patch, a discipleship program, a science fair, Christmas and Valentine's Day parties and an end of the year picnic. In addition, this year the group held their first commencement ceremony and graduated three of their students.
"It's been great for my children to have friends with the same values," Dean said. "We're from different backgrounds, and each family has their own reason for homes-schooling, but we all have a common goal. We all want God to be central in the way we teach our children."
This year the co-op began to develop a formal brand. Their motto is, "To enhance Christ-centered home education and discipleship," their verse is from Prov. 22:6 and their colors are blue, white and silver.
"We're like a big family," Morse said.