I was reminded last week why I have always found homeschool co-ops to be so valuable. In a word: CHEMISTRY. There's no way you can possibly hear the distaste in my voice/mind as I type that word, but it's there nonetheless.
Let's face it, no homeschool mom is an expert in every field she has to teach. Over the years I've seriously doubted that I'm an expert in any, but some are certainly easier to teach than others. One of my favorite subjects has always been Biology. I love studying and investigating the intricacies of the human body which the Creator has so marvelously designed. And even more, I get excited over passing that love on to students. Even the most squeamish come away from dissecting frogs and earthworms with a new appreciation for how amazing the creation truly is.
I'm afraid, however, that my love and excitement for Biology does not extend to Chemistry, which relies so heavily on math (another subject that has the ability to make me squirm). As I watched and listened to our small chemistry co-op (just 4 students) puzzle over measuring the specific heat of a chunk of metal last week, I patted myself on the back for once again expending the energy to seek out moms of other high school sophomores who needed a chem lab. None of us is really an expert in the field, but there is one among us who has an innate sense of how chemistry works, and is a whiz at math. So she leads our little group, and the rest of us help and cheer her on.
Obviously science is not the only subject which lends itself to sharing teaching and learning, but the lab sciences do seem especially perfect for such a setting. And it's really not terribly difficult to establish a co-op. You certainly don't need a large group of students, nor do you need a special location, or experts on any given topic to make it work. What's really necessary is a common desire to share the burdens of teaching and the excitement of learning. Sprinkle in a little bit of motivation and commitment to make it work, and you have a made to order "no frills" co-op. And you know, we've come us with some pretty amazing co-op classes and teachers in the past. One year we held a speech class and invited a homeschool mom who was an English teacher in her "past life" and had a passion for public speaking and drama. A friend of mine once hijacked an acquaintance who is a meteorologist to come and speak to her middle-school co-op science class. We've also invited "guest lecturers" by way of DVD and field trips. The sky truly is the limit.
So if one of the subjects in your homeschool seems to be lacking some excitement or "punch" ... and you just can't find the motivation to make it more interesting ... why not consider a homeschool co-op to spice things up!
Keep on keeping on ...
PS ... a couple of very practical "helps" I've found in my struggles with chemistry: Sonlight's Chemistry Supplies Kit and a nifty web site called the Periodic Table of Videos which a friend recently shared. See, I really *do* look for ways to make Chemistry more palatable!