Co-Op Craziness

I love my kids.  Really, I do.  And we work from home.  We see them a lot.  In order for us to not strangle get some time to refresh, we need a break from them during the week.  We don’t, however, need a 40-hour/week break (sometimes, it does sound nice).  We need a two day break where they are in an enriching environment away from our care so we can get our work completed and do those all so important adult tasks that aren’t kid friendly (and yes, that could include some um, recreational fun as well).

When kids are young, this is easy – there are preschools and mother’s day out programs all over the place.  Once they hit age 5, though, you’re SOL.  That’s what school is for!  For those of us that venture beyond the brick walls, we’ve got to find some help!

Enter in the homeschool co-op.  There are quite a few variations on this, but the one we’re looking for offers 1-3 days a week with teachers leading different subjects.  Here is a great example of one I’m looking at: The Center for Homeschool Enrichment Tutorial (CHET).  This may be an option for us.

The fifteen other awesome options in my area?  Perfect.  Except for one thing.  Here in the Bible Belt, right after someone asks you your name, the very next question is “where do you go to church?”  Thus it makes perfect sense that when I am looking to educate my children outside of the traditional school setting, the assumption is it is for spiritual reasons, I’m going to take them to a church, and in order to get into said church/co-op, I must have a pastoral recommendation.

That has been our biggest roadblock.  Out of all the legalese and things that could be a pain with non-traditional school, here I am not even allowed to take a tour of a co-op facility in the churches because I don’t have a pastoral recommendation.  They want to know what our worship attendance is, what our involvement in a church is, and exactly how much we put into the offering bucket every Sunday (okay, made that last one up).

I have been appalled by the “Christian Homeschoolers” – wow – the stereotype has been confirmed.  Homeschoolers are ultra conservative Christians who choose to only allow their children to connect with people who think exactly as they do unless it is an evangelical mission, which then allows for mingling with the “sinners.”  

Yes, yes, that is a gross generalization and cruel judgement on my part.  It is, however, the exact thoughts going on in my head when I hit the same roadblock with six great co-ops in the area.   I grew up in a Christian home and have been to just about every denomination there is.  I’m not anti-Christian – it’s just that this is not the reason we chose to homeschool our children.   When I was turned down by yet another co-op who wouldn’t even let us come tour because we didn’t have a home church, I lost it a bit and asked “how in the world are you being an example of Christ if you shut out anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as you do?”  Seriously people, what would Jesus do – require a checklist of credentials to be “in the club”?

If you are a Christian or if you are not, that’s not my focus here.  I want to connect with people eager for their kids to open their minds and hearts to the beauty the world has to offer, and all the people in it.  Give me like-mindedness in that alone, and the details on where (or if) we go to church are inconsequential.  If the word “homeschooler” puts me into the stereotype that the reason is only for religious purposes, then homeschooling is not what we’re doing.   And…yet another reason why I claim the word “unschooler.”

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