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    New co op queston about ages/grades

    Hello everyone,
    I am new to the forum and have enjoyed reading your topics and gleaning information from you. I and two others from my church are planning to start a co-op for this coming year. We would like it to be for preschool through 12th grade and have a nursery. Many of our church members who homeschool have large families who will need the childcare.

    We plan to meet Monday and Thursdays 36 weeks of the school year with a few breaks for teacher planning, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

    Our objective is to teach the core subjects in a classroom setting and have the children do all the rest of the work at home the other 3 days of the week.

    We do not know how many people are interested just yet, since we are in the beginning stages of planning. I would love to see us using MP for our curriculum, but I do not know how I would choose curriculum for mixed aged groups who may or may not have previously been classically educated and may never have used MP. My own children are using MP in their classical Christian school. Their school is amazing. I would leave them where they are, but I would prefer not to spend so much money.

    This co-op will be mostly run by mothers in order to keep fees to nearly nothing. They hopefully will only be purchasing curriculum and a few community supplies.

    So my question is how should we break up the children by grade and which curriculum should we use for each group. I am thinking K5-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, and then high school.

    Which history, science, Christian studies, Latin should we choose for each of these groups besides the k5-1?

    What kind of schedule would work to fit this all in on a Monday and Thursday? I have planned but am very open to suggestions this plan.
    9-9:30- opening
    9:30-10:15 IEW writing
    10:15-10:45 Grammar
    10:45-11:15 Math games/fun
    11:15-12 History
    12-1 Lunch and recess
    1-1:45 Science
    1:45-2:30 timeline on Monday and Christian studies on Thursday
    2:30-3:15 Art

    I would very much appreciate your honest opinions and wisdom.

    Thank you

    #2
    Hello and welcome! Those are some huge questions you are asking there! Do you mind answering a few to give us a better idea of what you are working with? How old (grades) are your own children currently? Is your aim to be a classical Christian co-op generally or a Memoria Press-specific co-op? Do you have a few core families who already on board with your vision (those two others--are they bringing their own ideas?)? Are the other families all coming from full time school as well, or are there experienced homeschoolers in the bunch? Have you ever homeschooled before? Will you have the support of your church (free building, could they cover you in their insurance, etc.)?

    Here are a few thoughts and feedback based on our experiences:
    -Starting with nursery to 12th is a very bold undertaking! It can likely be done if families are wiling to be flexible with placement and this will be most significant for the oldest students. For example, it's likely that for classes like Classics, students in 7th and up would all be in Ancient Greeks/Iliad/Odyssey just to make things work. It is very challenging to find a batch of high schoolers ready to dive into anything beyond Homer unless they have already been working at home with MP or similar. We started three years ago and the batch of oldest students we could find were 8th. Even here in our very large city and with our many homeschooling contacts there have been very few high schoolers who are willing to shift gears to a classical education mid-stream.
    -36 week of school is a very long year. Spring Meadows meets 33 and we started with 34 but cut back to 33 in Nashville. We take off 6 weeks during our school year: fall break (1 week), Thanksgiving break (1), Christmas/New Year (3), and spring break (1). We start around August 20th and wrap up around May 13th. If you wanted to do 36 weeks you'd need to start early August and end the third week of May, most likely. That feels really long around here, especially to homeschoolers! When we met 34 weeks we had a lot of students not be able to come the last week of school because of trips (weddings/graduations/vacation).
    -A co-op is a viable model if you have dedicated parents. Teaching some of these classes will require diligent preparation outside of class time. If most of these families have a lot of children, then they will have to decide if the parents truly have the time to prep to teach these classes well. This will be on top of their three day at home homeschool work. A co-op is only as good as its members. While keeping costs low is a worthy and admirable goal, with low financial investment often comes low dedication. This can take the form of "My family will be out of town for two weeks in September" which equals that you lost that teacher for two weeks. In addition to commitment to teaching, families must be committed in attendance. When students miss it places a burden on the teacher to follow up and make sure they are ready for the following week and it can pull the class ethos down if it is small. In a mastery curriculum, there's not really room for some people to not attend well and/or not complete the work. If they don't have a financial stake in the class days, then it's harder to expect commitment there (i.e. they have very little skin in the game).
    -The actual curricular choices for classes and age groupings can likely only be determined once you have actual students. Everything will hinge on what they've done before and where they are properly placed. With a mastery curriculum, slower is always best. Somethings that MP has for middle school can be counted for high school credits if enhanced with essay or some additional work. Homer would be a great example of that, as I listed above.
    -There are a few HLS cottage schools doing what you are planning, teaching most everything on two separate days. Most of them use a block schedule where four or five things are taught each day, with the biggest time blocks given to the most important subjects: Latin and math, to name two. Depending on the ages of the students, younger students may need to do things at home like science or Christian studies.
    -If you haven't already seen it, here's what we are doing in Nashville: www.nashvillelatinschool.com We are in our third year and only now have a sizable high school group. Most of our high schoolers are 10th and 9th graders this year. Of those students three are Directors' kids. We started with one day of Latin, Classics, Literature, and Composition (following the original model of Spring Meadows), then in our second year added Math and Science for high schoolers. This year we added Logic, and next year we'll add Logic/Rhetoric and US History on that second day. For our oldest students, that means we are only offering up to 8 classes. K-12 comes on Monday all day and Thursday is for 6th grade and up only.
    -Since your students have been doing MP before, and if they are old enough, they might need to take classes with MPOA to stay with their placement. This happened with my oldest son. He was ready for Third Form Latin and we couldn't find a single student anywhere to be a classmate with him our first year. As a result, he's done MPOA Latin for three years and will continue through graduation. He has study hall during that block at HLN.

    Hopefully this is helpful as you sort through ideas of what works and how. What you are describing is basically a two day school! As I mentioned above, a co-op is a viable option. And, my honest feedback is that what you are describing sounds more like being a non-profit or LLC and hiring teachers as employees, starting a full-fledged business. If you want your teachers to be trained you'll need to get the training yourself and then pass that on to them, or you'll need to join CLSA and/or attend a summer training (and maybe bring some/all of them). The MP curriculum is "open and go" but pedagogy for classrooms is not something you get from a Teacher Manual. Teaching is truly an art and if you want your co-op to embody the purpose and form of classical education, then that won't come by accident. It will be something you have to cultivate as its leader or one of its leaders. That's not to say your co-op has to look just like us or anyone else, including Highlands in Kentucky. Of course not, that's what an ideal full time school looks like! There is margin to flex and create something that is life-giving where you are for who you want to serve.

    That's a lot of information, but it's some places to start with thinking through issues. I wish you all the best in coming together and creating something for your own family and your friends! Lastly, I hope you will consider attending both Sodalitas and the CLSA/MP Teacher Training this summer. Those five days in Louisville are invaluable to catching the vision and learning the curriculum from top to bottom.
    Festina lentē,
    Jessica P

    SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
    @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
    S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
    D · 8th
    D · 5th
    S · 2nd

    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

    Comment


      #3
      And if you are free today at 3PM EST, CLSA is hosting a free webinar on classical pedagogy! The signup info is here: https://classicallatin.org/upcoming-...4f707-11555517
      This would be a great way to dip your toe into some of the things that administrators think about and work on for their schools. Paul is an excellent presenter; you'll learn so much. (I'll be on there watching and learning too!).
      Festina lentē,
      Jessica P

      SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
      @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
      S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
      D · 8th
      D · 5th
      S · 2nd

      Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
        And if you are free today at 3PM EST, CLSA is hosting a free webinar on classical pedagogy! The signup info is here: https://classicallatin.org/upcoming-...4f707-11555517
        I just saw this - any chance it will be available to watch later?
        Amanda
        Mama to three crazy boys - 6A, 5A, 1

        "Non nisi te, Domine. Non nisi te" - St. Thomas Aquinas

        Comment


          #5
          Amanda, I know CLSA members can watch them later. I'm not sure about everyone. Someone MP will have to help there.
          Festina lentē,
          Jessica P

          SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
          @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
          S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
          D · 8th
          D · 5th
          S · 2nd

          Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Nerdmom View Post

            I just saw this - any chance it will be available to watch later?
            Good evening Amanda,

            I wasn't able to get a hold of the person who knows the answer. (He was working out of the office today.) I'll try to have an answer for you early next week.

            Sorry for the delay!
            Michael
            Memoria Press

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks Michael - no hurry!
              Amanda
              Mama to three crazy boys - 6A, 5A, 1

              "Non nisi te, Domine. Non nisi te" - St. Thomas Aquinas

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Nerdmom View Post

                I just saw this - any chance it will be available to watch later?
                Good morning,

                I have heard back with an answer to your question! Normally recordings are only available to CLSA members, but you can email ethan@classicallatin.org to see what he can do. At the very least he'll know more about CLSA polices.

                HTH!
                Michael
                Memoria Press

                Comment


                  #9
                  What a GREAT response Jessica, as always! So many excellent things to think about!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    What a great response. Thank you so much for your time! So some things have changed since we have spoken to our pastor about using the building. He has agreed to allow us to use it for one full day, and we will not be charging any fees. The parents will simply be in charge of buying the curriculum their child needs. Our high school leader does not want to do classical for many of the reasons you stated above, so we will cap MP at 8th grade.
                    I have a few more questions. So we are thinking k4-k5, 1/2, 3/4, 5/6,7/8. Then high school is it’s on thing. Do those grades sound compatible?
                    Do you believe it is possible to teach from the curriculum on Monday and the child does the workbooks at home or is it necessary for the family to have the whole curriculum per grade at home? Most of the families who will want to join our co op will have many children and it adds up fast when you have many kids.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by brookie View Post
                      What a great response. Thank you so much for your time! So some things have changed since we have spoken to our pastor about using the building. He has agreed to allow us to use it for one full day, and we will not be charging any fees. The parents will simply be in charge of buying the curriculum their child needs. Our high school leader does not want to do classical for many of the reasons you stated above, so we will cap MP at 8th grade.
                      I have a few more questions. So we are thinking k4-k5, 1/2, 3/4, 5/6,7/8. Then high school is it’s on thing. Do those grades sound compatible?
                      Do you believe it is possible to teach from the curriculum on Monday and the child does the workbooks at home or is it necessary for the family to have the whole curriculum per grade at home? Most of the families who will want to join our co op will have many children and it adds up fast when you have many kids.
                      Good morning,

                      These are good—and common—questions. I will take my best shot at providing some answers, and perhaps others will jump in as well. The grade levels you have laid out will work for the most part, with 1st/2nd being the most difficult to combine. If your numbers make it possible to separate that group (5 each, roughly) I would suggest doing so. The difference in literacy is overwhelming at this level, such that it will become difficult for a teacher to give proper attention to phonetic development for the 1st graders while still challenging the 2nd graders in their developing decoding skills. Imagine one group reading Stone Soup while the others read Little House in the Big Woods. Saying that, it can be (and has been) done, it's just not the most desirable situation. I think Jessica can speak to this as well, from experience. The other grade level combinations should not be an issue beyond scheduling—you'll need to make sure you have something to rotate each group into year-to-year. You may want to consider offering classical studies in place of (or coinciding with) the timeline program. You could incorporate timeline into both classical and Christian studies.

                      I do recommend requiring parents to have the teaching materials at home. Not necessarily the DVD's, as the instructional help is the benefit to having the program in the first place, but to encourage commitment/involvement. As Jessica rightly described above, this is where your program lives and dies. When teachers are only half-in, the program suffers; when parents are only half-in, the program dies. The parent needs to be able to answer questions during the at-home days, they need to be able to (at least) correct workbooks/quizzes (even if the "grading" is up to the teacher/tutor), and they need to be aware of how their student is doing regarding the content. These things are impossible if they do not have the TG/TM. Saying that, if you were to go very formal, offering all (or nearly all) subjects and requiring only homework to be completed at home, with teachers correcting and grading everything, you could get away with parents not having TG/TM, but this will require higher pay for teachers, which means higher tuition and more demand of administration as well.

                      I noticed you mention Latin, but it is not on your schedule. Do you plan for that to be done at home? Sorry if I missed the answer to that question somewhere above!


                      Best regards,
                      Ryan
                      Ryan Weston
                      Director, Cottage Schools and Distributor Relations
                      Memoria Press

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by brookie View Post
                        What a great response. Thank you so much for your time! So some things have changed since we have spoken to our pastor about using the building. He has agreed to allow us to use it for one full day, and we will not be charging any fees. The parents will simply be in charge of buying the curriculum their child needs. Our high school leader does not want to do classical for many of the reasons you stated above, so we will cap MP at 8th grade.
                        I have a few more questions. So we are thinking k4-k5, 1/2, 3/4, 5/6,7/8. Then high school is it’s on thing. Do those grades sound compatible?
                        Do you believe it is possible to teach from the curriculum on Monday and the child does the workbooks at home or is it necessary for the family to have the whole curriculum per grade at home? Most of the families who will want to join our co op will have many children and it adds up fast when you have many kids.
                        Sorry I missed this previously and thank you, Ryan, for bumping it up and answering.

                        I think your plans will have to be driven by your level of parent commitment. Since you will not charge fees, I think you have to have higher than usual parent commitment. What I hear you saying is that these families have a lot of children and that will affect resources. One question I have for you is what do you gauge the likelihood that these families want to put their children entirely into Memoria Press cores at home? If the curriculum is new to them then that will be very difficult in your first year. They could do it, but they would need to learn as much as they can here and through the materials themselves before school begins. This forum is a testimony to the level of questions/answers we need to thrive at home with MP. It's simple, but it's not intuitive for most of us based on our educational backgrounds.

                        I would suggest choosing a small number of classes to focus on during your instructional day (third grade & up) and then leave the rest to the families at home during the week. That said, what courses do they need most? The little ones can do a "Monday" if parents will buy and do Thursday-Friday at home. That ends at about second or third grade through (where that's a simple model). For example, we started with four classes: Latin, Classical Studies, Literature, and Composition. Other schools have started with Latin, Classical Studies, Math, and Science because *those* were the classes in demand on that area.

                        Maybe this helps? Please respond back with clarifying comments or questions.

                        ​​​​​​​(There may be typos-this forum and my phone are still not friends)
                        Festina lentē,
                        Jessica P

                        SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
                        @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
                        S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
                        D · 8th
                        D · 5th
                        S · 2nd

                        Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thank you both for your replies. Ryan, were you at the SC Greenville homeschool convention last week? I didn't recognize you then, but my friend and I stood at the booth for way too many hours checking everything off our list. I wish I had recognized you so that I could talk to you. After reading your replies we have decided to do K5/1st, 2nd, 3rd/4th, 5th/6th, 7th/8th. Since my family is coming from a private school that teaches using Memoria Press we will continue with Latin at home, but I do not feel qualified to teach any Latin at the co-op and I know none of the other mothers would be, so we plan to encourage them to teach it at home with the DVD's as their guide. I do hope they see how important it is, so that maybe we can offer it next year. I also agree that and we have decided they will need the teachers guide for everything. We want their commitment and if we aren't charging co-op fees at least the investment into a new curriculum will help with that. In order to be a part of the co-op the parents have to agree to use all the curriculum we are using on co-op day, so it would certainly be a commitment. We have worked out a plan to provide different subjects for a 2 cycle rotation that I believe will work well. Thank y'all both so much for your time!!!

                          Brook

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