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Thread: Trying to get started...but with older students

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Posts
    6

    Default Trying to get started...but with older students

    Hi folks,

    All right, time for the weird opener among all the people who have little ones: I want to start a cottage school for the "upper school" kids. Of course, the easiest way to do this would be to start with the little-bitties, but that's never been my calling, and I'm woman enough to admit that! My calling, however, is teaching teenagers and young adults in a classical setting, and it's time I started making this happen.

    I hear all the time that "homeschooling through high school"--especially classically homeschooling through high school--is a daunting prospect, and I can completely understand that. I want to be the one to step in at that 6th-8th grade time when a hundred reasons are telling parents to give it up and say instead, "No...send them to me; I've got your back on this." It seems that many homeschooling parents justifiably find the upper-level stuff to be an awful lot of work that takes up time they don't have (especially while raising and teaching other little ones!), often with little to no guidance through challenging texts. I want to help with that. I can do the higher stuff; I've done the coursework, and I have the experience. I live and breathe it already.

    (To give y'all a tiny bit of background, I hold a Ph.D. in Renaissance studies, have taught in my university's classics and humanities program for over a decade, and put in some time teaching 9th-12th grades at a classical charter school recently as well. I also homeschool my daughter with MP [mostly]; she'll graduate next year.)

    All this is to say that despite credentials and whatnot, I know this isn't going to be easy to start. I have the academic background and the teaching experience. I have facilities available to me. I have no real business experience, but I understand my own ignorance enough to get help with that! What I really don't know is how to pitch this or go about finding people who might want this for their children. I expect to do most of the work myself, though if folks want more than I can offer (specifically STEM classes), I'm not averse to bringing others in on this, too. I suppose what I'm asking here is, "Does this sound like something that would be interesting to you or people you know?" I know we're not all in the same area, but I'm just tossing this idea out there. If people here take a look at it and respond, "Yeah, I'd look into this!" or "Um, no way" then that'll at least give me something to consider.

    Thanks for reading this far!

    CAN in TN

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Bel Air MD
    Posts
    172

    Default Re: Trying to get started...but with older students

    I definitely think there's a need for that. It does get harder for parents as the kids move into high school. But I think that you would have to have families in your area who have been educating classically already, in the younger years. They'd have to already be on board with the philosophy and teaching that way before they were ready for you to take over. I'd love to find some students to form classes with my high schooler, but none of her friends have been educated from a classical philosophy. So those parents are not looking for what I'd like to offer. But if you know some people who share your philosophy and just need someone to take over with older kids -- absolutely!
    Melanie
    2018-2019 ~ 5th MP year; 10th year homeschooling
    using most of 9th, 7th, and 4th grade cores

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Suburb of Chicago
    Posts
    3,450

    Default Re: Trying to get started...but with older students

    Quote Originally Posted by Mnemosyne View Post
    Hi folks,

    All this is to say that despite credentials and whatnot, I know this isn't going to be easy to start. I have the academic background and the teaching experience. I have facilities available to me. I have no real business experience, but I understand my own ignorance enough to get help with that! What I really don't know is how to pitch this or go about finding people who might want this for their children. I expect to do most of the work myself, though if folks want more than I can offer (specifically STEM classes), I'm not averse to bringing others in on this, too. I suppose what I'm asking here is, "Does this sound like something that would be interesting to you or people you know?" I know we're not all in the same area, but I'm just tossing this idea out there. If people here take a look at it and respond, "Yeah, I'd look into this!" or "Um, no way" then that'll at least give me something to consider.

    Thanks for reading this far!

    CAN in TN
    CAN,
    This is exactly what motivated me to want to start a cottage school. I had been mulling the idea for a while, and then two additional things happened: a very close MP friend decided to open one (peer pressure in the best sense...I thought we could learn a lot together!) and another very close, local friend's husband decided to start a Classical high school (immediately struck me as a great time to offer a lead-in for our community to help prepare young people to be ready to head into the high school). So, your ideas are spot on, in my book.

    A couple of things. First of all, the fact that you have facilities available to you is HUGE. For most of the folks I have known who are interested in starting schools, finding a feasible location is one of the hardest parts. So if you have that part lined up, I would not take that lightly, but rather see that as one very strong sign that you should give something a shot.

    But yes, the idea of finding people who are interested is an important factor as well. What I can offer from my experience, is that you just never know what can happen. When I was contemplating starting, I felt confident our area could yield enough students to start a year because in my own circle of friends, we had about thirty children who were doing MP. I figured if I even got a very small percentage of those children I would be okay to get going. But what actually happened was I only got two families from that initial planning who signed up and participated in the cottage school. TWO! The rest were people who showed up out of nowhere, folks I was not expecting at all! It was such a joy to meet these new families, and to get to know their children.

    So my best advice to you is if you feel called to do this, do it. But don't be afraid to start small. I am going to steal a line from a hallmark-ish movie and say, "Never despise meager beginnings." We started with just one Latin teacher (not me) - which it sounds like is YOU. We had four classes of Latin, and added a class of Greek Myths at the last minute (which was me). We were so small, but it was so good. And we would have grown if we hadn't had to move. For the second year, we were going to add another Latin teacher and a science/math teaching couple. We had twice as many people at our open house. It still would have been a smallish number of students, but would have at least doubled in size...which says a lot. I can't stress enough...you just don't know until you give it a shot, and don't be afraid to give yourself time to grow.

    But the one word of caution with that is to realize that it is a risk, so keep your "meager beginnings" meager indeed. Make sure you charge what you need to cover yourself with the smallest number of students, keeping in mind all of your overhead. Watch how much liability you take on, and make sure you have help with that "business" side of things so that you don't dig yourself into a hole. No one wants that. I kept all my expenses low...from website, to insurance, to rent...and God was good to us through all of it. We didn't make anything, but we didn't have to foot the bills ourselves either.

    This is mostly about encouragement. If you have more specific questions, I am sure the folks who are actively involved in schools can offer you a lot of great help!
    AMDG,
    Sarah
    2018-2019
    DD 17 - 12th || DS 15 - 10th || DD 13 - 8th || DD 11 - 6th || DD 9 - 4th
    DD 6 - 1st || DD 4 - mix of 1st & JrK || +DS, 2-21-16+ || DS 10 months (and walking!)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Goodlettsville, TN
    Posts
    3,941

    Default Re: Trying to get started...but with older students

    CAN,
    Two things, quickly, before I head to cottage school today:
    1) I love your forum name!
    2) Where are you in Tennessee? If you'd like to send me a PM, just click on the link above this post with my name and you'll send a PM option.
    Thank you!
    Festina lentē,
    Jessica P

    2018-2019 · 7th MP Year, 9th Homeschooling
    Interweaving home, cottage school, & MPOA
    DS · MPOA Henle 2, 9A -- DD · 7A -- DD · 4A -- DS · 1st

    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School
    www.nashvillelatinschool.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    72

    Default Re: Trying to get started...but with older students

    Quote Originally Posted by Mnemosyne View Post
    Hi folks,

    All right, time for the weird opener among all the people who have little ones: I want to start a cottage school for the "upper school" kids. Of course, the easiest way to do this would be to start with the little-bitties, but that's never been my calling, and I'm woman enough to admit that! My calling, however, is teaching teenagers and young adults in a classical setting, and it's time I started making this happen.

    I hear all the time that "homeschooling through high school"--especially classically homeschooling through high school--is a daunting prospect, and I can completely understand that. I want to be the one to step in at that 6th-8th grade time when a hundred reasons are telling parents to give it up and say instead, "No...send them to me; I've got your back on this." It seems that many homeschooling parents justifiably find the upper-level stuff to be an awful lot of work that takes up time they don't have (especially while raising and teaching other little ones!), often with little to no guidance through challenging texts. I want to help with that. I can do the higher stuff; I've done the coursework, and I have the experience. I live and breathe it already.

    (To give y'all a tiny bit of background, I hold a Ph.D. in Renaissance studies, have taught in my university's classics and humanities program for over a decade, and put in some time teaching 9th-12th grades at a classical charter school recently as well. I also homeschool my daughter with MP [mostly]; she'll graduate next year.)

    All this is to say that despite credentials and whatnot, I know this isn't going to be easy to start. I have the academic background and the teaching experience. I have facilities available to me. I have no real business experience, but I understand my own ignorance enough to get help with that! What I really don't know is how to pitch this or go about finding people who might want this for their children. I expect to do most of the work myself, though if folks want more than I can offer (specifically STEM classes), I'm not averse to bringing others in on this, too. I suppose what I'm asking here is, "Does this sound like something that would be interesting to you or people you know?" I know we're not all in the same area, but I'm just tossing this idea out there. If people here take a look at it and respond, "Yeah, I'd look into this!" or "Um, no way" then that'll at least give me something to consider.

    Thanks for reading this far!

    CAN in TN
    Good Morning,

    The Memoria Press team is constantly fielding questions about how parents of older students can provide support for their 7th, 8th, or high school students, so I expect what you are considering offering will be well received! There are some intrinsic difficulties, however, to offering instructional/tutorial support to upper school students. The greatest of these will most likely be the lack of parity in the students who have access to your program. One will need this, another that, and so it may prove difficult to put together a scope that appeals to that wide range. There are strategies to deal with this, though, and we are happy to help you determine those.

    Obviously, we are limited in how deep a conversation can go on this forum, but we do have a schools division available to help out. Please feel free to call us anytime: (502) 855-4824 or email me directly: ryan@memoriapress.com.


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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Trying to get started...but with older students

    Thanks so much, everyone. I really appreciate all of your responses! It's encouraging, and I think I will give this a try. Allons-y!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Suburb of Chicago
    Posts
    3,450

    Default Re: Trying to get started...but with older students

    Yippee!

    God bless, and keep us posted!
    AMDG,
    Sarah
    2018-2019
    DD 17 - 12th || DS 15 - 10th || DD 13 - 8th || DD 11 - 6th || DD 9 - 4th
    DD 6 - 1st || DD 4 - mix of 1st & JrK || +DS, 2-21-16+ || DS 10 months (and walking!)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    63

    Default Re: Trying to get started...but with older students

    Quote Originally Posted by rweston View Post
    Good Morning,

    The Memoria Press team is constantly fielding questions about how parents of older students can provide support for their 7th, 8th, or high school students, so I expect what you are considering offering will be well received! There are some intrinsic difficulties, however, to offering instructional/tutorial support to upper school students. The greatest of these will most likely be the lack of parity in the students who have access to your program. One will need this, another that, and so it may prove difficult to put together a scope that appeals to that wide range. There are strategies to deal with this, though, and we are happy to help you determine those.

    Obviously, we are limited in how deep a conversation can go on this forum, but we do have a schools division available to help out. Please feel free to call us anytime: (502) 855-4824 or email me directly: ryan@memoriapress.com.


    Best,
    --Ryan
    Ryan,
    I just wanted to chime in and encourage MP to keep thinking of those of us with middle/high schoolers! It IS a daunting task and many of us feel ill-equipped. That said, PLEASE continue offering DVD's, online courses and other practical "helps" to get us through these years!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    1,469

    Default Re: Trying to get started...but with older students

    Quote Originally Posted by Meadowlark View Post
    Ryan,
    I just wanted to chime in and encourage MP to keep thinking of those of us with middle/high schoolers! It IS a daunting task and many of us feel ill-equipped. That said, PLEASE continue offering DVD's, online courses and other practical "helps" to get us through these years!
    Amen.
    As we sit here in 7th grade, and looking ahead, I can honestly say that I'm about 90% sure we will be homeschooling for the long haul. I'm looking for support, because this seems daunting. In my personal circle, middle school is when families start to drop like flies. My Rachel lost one of her friends to full time school this fall, and we just got word that her closest friend will be moving out of town.
    DD #1 : 23, college GRADUATE
    DD #2 : 12 MP 7A - HLS Cottage School Louisville, MPOA
    DS #3 : 10, MP3M+Simply Classical4; HLS Cottage School Louisville
    DS #4 : 10, MP3M+Simply Classical4; HLS Cottage School Louisville
    DD #5: 6, MP 1 at HLS
    DS #6: 4, cutest caboose on the loose
    http://www.thekennedyadventures.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    72

    Default Re: Trying to get started...but with older students

    Quote Originally Posted by Meadowlark View Post
    Ryan,
    I just wanted to chime in and encourage MP to keep thinking of those of us with middle/high schoolers! It IS a daunting task and many of us feel ill-equipped. That said, PLEASE continue offering DVD's, online courses and other practical "helps" to get us through these years!
    Great reminder! It is certainly a daunting—and honorable—task to home educate an upper school student, and we certainly understand that; we will continue to have the conversation in the office about how we can best support you. Watch for more instructional DVDs and online courses to be released in 2019!
    Ryan Weston
    Director, Cottage Schools and Distributor Relations
    Memoria Press

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