As we woke early on Wednesday morning
to pack lunches,
load book bags, computers, science experiment materials and art supplies into the van,
I couldn’t help but reflect.
This is our 11th year with the New Castle Star Co-op.
When we showed up at that first planning meeting 11 years ago we had no idea how this group would change our lives and affect our home schooling journey.We had no idea the lessons that we’d learn or the friendships that would be made.
That little group of seven moms, joined together through a desire to enrich our children’s k12 experience, has evolved as the years have passed.
Each school year brings changes with families coming and families leaving,
and those changes always bring a heart tug.
But even as families outgrow the group through moves, school changes, and graduations,
the New Castle Star Co-op remains and here we are celebrating our 11 year anniversary.
This past Wednesday the kids were up extra early. The girls wanted extra time to dress up for the “first day of school” and the boys were just too excited to sleep.
We arrived early enough to get an official “First Day of Co-op” picture.
The kids were excited to see that we were one of the first families there. Tyler immediately headed for the gym to play ball and Ozzie joined Saga to eagerly check out the new scholastic book orders. The scholastic book orders are one of his favorite perks about co-op and he waned to see if he had enough allowance saved to but a new book.
By 9:00 all the families arrived except one that would be gone for the day. It was crazy how quiet the place seemed with the loss of many families from last year’s group.
The school day began with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Then it was time for the first of four class periods.
Our co-op offers four classes: science, art, history and music for grades k-8 (although we don’t have kids in all those grades this year) and a study hall for the older kids who have independent school work to do.
The moms all sign up to teach some of those classes.
My first class of the day was 3rd grade science with Tyler. We were beginning the weather unit and learning about measuring wind speed using the Beaufort Scale. The boys loved going outside with their “flags” and measuring the wind speed.
Second period I am free. I’m not responsible to teach any classes so that hour gives me the opportunity to check in with my older kids in the study hall room and see if they need any help. If they don’t need me then I get to sit and visit with the other ladies who aren’t teaching that hour. It is wonderful!
The high school room.
Third period I am back with the 3rd graders to teach art. If Rusty finishes his school assignments for the day he will sometimes join us. He enjoys the art projects and the little boys like having him in there. This week we worked on self portraits. We began the lesson with a fun face-sticker book to get them thinking about the different ways they can draw mouths, eyes, and noses. I was hoping it would get their creative juices flowing…and it did. They got downright silly with the project. 🙂
Then it was time to actually draw the self portraits. Tyler really struggles with drawing. I know that much of his struggles with writing and drawing come from those early years of neglect. At age 9 he still draws a person with a big round head, two dots for eyes, a smile, and the legs and arms protruding from the head of the person. I have been working with him and he is improving. This lesson gave me the chance to walk the boys, step by step, through the process of making a face look more realistic. They did a GREAT job, and while you may find Tyler’s self-portrait incredibly juvenial for his age this is by far the best work he has ever done. I was thrilled!
In Ozzie’s 5th grade art class they also did self portraits. When class was done he brought his over to show me.
The second lesson we did in art was learning the difference between representational and abstract pieces of art. They showed examples of different pieces of artwork highlighting the bird. Some were realistic and some were abstract. At the end of the lesson the boys painted a picture of a bird. This is what Rusty drew:
Following art we have a 30 minute break for lunch. The kids eat the lunches they packed and then can play in the gym until the final school hour of the day.
For fourth period Tyler has music. Last year I taught his music class but this year I am teaching 5th grade science that hour so Gracie volunteered to be the 3rd grade music teacher. She finishes her own school assignments during the first three periods and then after lunch puts on her “teacher hat” and teaches the 3rd grade boys’ music. She is very excited by this responsibility. She has many fun ideas planned and in the process of teaching them she is able to count tutoring hours for her National Honor Society membership.
During the 4th hour I teach Ozzie science. This week we began the unit on water. Our lesson consisted of the water cycle, water conservation and water filtration. For his project we had to make a model aquifer to see how one works and how ground water can be contaminated by pollution. He was engaged and found the whole thing fascinating.
At the end of the day we stayed for a bit of social time with friends before we had to leave for Ozzie’s occupational therapy appointment. With the start of school comes the start of all our therapy, class, and lessons commitments. The summer offered a wonderful break from all those outside the home commitments but it is nice getting back into a routine.
It is nice to be back in school.
It was a swell first day of co-op. 🙂