I cringed the moment the words came out of my mouth: “we’re not going to co-op to learn.” Oops. Mom fail.
Still, it’s technically true. We go to co-op for all sorts of reasons, but a standard education isn’t the top one.
The Engineer brightened up when I told him that the co-op leaders were dividing kids by age and ability level for the upcoming fall semester. He asked to join the older kids’ class, because “I want to do advanced science!” I explained that until he can read more fluently he needs to stay in his age group.
He didn’t like my answer. So we discussed how co-op is helping him develop other skills that he really needs, like listening to other adults, working in a team, and making new friends. I thought, but didn’t say, that co-op is helping him learn to control his anxiety, moderate his reactions, and practice his social skills in a safe setting. In this upcoming semester, he’ll also be learning more self-advocacy, because I won’t be present all the time to help out.
I guess the main reason we’re going to co-op is learning – but not traditional learning. Learning life skills, learning impulse control, learning to behave appropriately in a specific setting. That’s still learning, just not the educational kind. In fact, I would label these lessons as more important than academic skills, because he doesn’t have much opportunity to consistently practice around other people right now.
A new school year
The kids are excited about co-op. I’m even more excited because I’ve seen the new location. The kids are going to love it, especially my youngest, who “could” do classes with his sister, but prefers to play with toys. He’s a good reminder to me that just because a kid can do higher level work, doesn’t mean they should be shoved into an academic setting before they’re ready.
This co-op is an enrichment co-op, where we come together once a week for classes that are more fun as a group. It’s staffed by all volunteers – other parents – and it’s a low-cost way to build community. We’re super lucky to have this option!
Yes, we’re going to co-op to learn. All the lessons, not just the educational ones. I should probably clarify that for him.