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Co-Schooling SLOCA-Style

April 25th, 2017

{photos by Lindsey Cheney}

The homeschooling component of SLOCA’s program is one of our unique twists on providing a rich classical education. We deeply value family time and learning together in families. It comes as no surprise, however, that some of our families have found an additional way to do SLOCA life together and help one another out: co-schooling! 

By co-schooling we simply mean getting together with another SLOCA family for some of the subjects on home days, to share the load (and maybe a tutor), utilize one another’s strengths, broaden discussions, and to have a little more “friend time.” While it does have its own challenges and isn’t for everyone (and perhaps not for every home day), co-schooling can be a rewarding and practical option. 

Have you tried this before, or thought about trying this? Does it sound intriguing but you’re wondering how on earth this could really work?

Today we have the privilege of hearing about two SLOCA families who have managed to make this system work for them. Read on to find out how the Cheney and Talley families have been co-schooling successfully!

This is Lindsey Cheney and our family is on our 9th year at SLOCA!  We have tried all sorts of ways to make our home days run smoother, changing strategies many times, but have finally landed on one that has worked for us for the last 4 years or so.  Jill Talley (another SLOCA mom) and I hired a math tutor together, originally just for our oldest girls, then gradually have added in our other kids as they got older.  Our current tutor is a math major at Cal Poly.  Not only do our kids do math together, but several other subjects as well, which has changed our home days quite a bit!

How it works:  We do math tutoring on 2 home days a week.   The tutor comes to Jill's house 1 day, our house the other.  When the kids are at Jill's, I generally drop them off for 3 hours.  While the oldest are doing math, our lower middle school girls will work independently on another subject, like history reading, or IEW, and the Intermediate boys will work with Jill, doing spelling, working on recitations, and sometimes something additional, like a narrative.  The boys favorite subject together is recess  ; ) . When the LMS girls do math, the older girls are independent as well.  When its the boys' turn to do math, Jill does spelling with the girls.  This works great for me because spelling is my least favorite subject to teach and Jill doesn't mind it at all.  When the kids are all at my house, it works pretty much the same, but I help with different subjects.  Occasionally, I'll help the older girls with art, and I always try to do grammar with the boys.  While the boys wait for their turn with the tutor, we'll "warm up their math brains" with mental math and 64 math facts practice.  If I'm feeling really ambitious, we'll tackle copywork or drawing a picture for their Best Work Journals.

Why it works: 

1. Our kids are the same ages, so the tutor can work with 2 at a time at the same math level.  2 of our kids are 1 level apart, but the tutor can be flexible to work with them at the same time.  

2. We are able to be flexible.  With a class schedule that changes each trimester, Jill and I have to be open to morning, midday or afternoon tutoring, on Tuesday and Thursday or Friday.  That means each trimester we may have to change the times of other extracurricular activities, but we've found it to be worth it.  

3. Jill and I are able to help in our areas of interest: she'll help with verbal arts, like recitation and oral presentations, and I’ll help with the more visual aspects, like dioramas and science project boards.  

4. Our kids are the same levels and enjoy this time together! 

5. Sometimes, our kids work better with their peers around.  Distractions definitely do happen, but for the boys especially, a little competition acts like encouragement to get work done faster.  The kids also like to do projects together, like stop motion videos or film a scene from a book.

Last week, our tutor was gone for her spring break and Jill and I co-schooled together for 2 days.  While one of us worked with the kids doing math, the other took on several other subjects.  But really, the kids are so independent now that they were able to do so much on their own.  Here's what Jill said about our time last week: "I wanted to let you know that today with all the kids really blessed me as I was so impressed to see those six kids working so hard on their math and helping each other. It made me think of all these years that we've done math together along with other home school subjects. I think the kids have really grown over the years in their independence and that they really do enjoy the camaraderie and companionship of friends to work with. They were all so great today: diligent, creative, kind, and they just enjoyed their working together."

Wow, what a testimonial! We love sharing ideas like this, hearing how others have adapted, and gaining more tools for our learning toolboxes. Thank you, Lindsey and Jill, for letting us see how your home days together work, and for sharing the benefits you’ve seen from doing life and school together in this way. We know it’s not always easy, but it’s inspiring to read these practical strategies and to think about giving this a try, even if it’s just once in awhile, or on a smaller scale. 

We would love to know – has anyone else out there tried this? Was it successful? Share your experience with co-schooling below, or leave questions or other comments!