I realized early on I was not good at teaching some things to my children. Young children love doing crafts – I’m not crafty. They love drawing – I can only draw stick figures. The list goes on.
There are some subjects I do love to teach, like English, writing, grammar, and literature. So it was clear I needed help. I had a friend who had a very different home school style than I did, but whose strengths were my weaknesses. She was a wonderful artist, good at math, and very creative in general. I admired her strengths and appreciated her insights. Her older children were the ages of my older children. We devised a trade once a week. She taught art to my oldest two and I entertained the three smaller girls. It worked out wonderfully. In their art classes they created beautiful work and their teacher was not distracted by the ‘littles’ who were too young to participate. That year I decided that co-operative learning and teaching was for our family!
Throughout the years, we studied language arts, American history, science, and many unit studies with other families. The competition with their peers motivated my children to work harder and strive to be the best (not a bad by-product). We took turns teaching and shared grading and planning responsibilities. But the best part was we developed close relationships with other parents and their children. We shared dinners, celebrated birthdays, and even weddings together as a result of those co-ops.
When the kids got into high school and science included labs, we began to have the older children lead the labs for the younger ones. This gave them the opportunity to teach each other and the benefits were tremendous.
Although I have primarily focused on co-ops to enhance the home school experience, tutors, online courses, outside classes, etc. are all excellent ways to get others involved in the education of your children. To this day, my oldest daughter and her husband say Mrs. Hill was the best writing teacher they ever had (my daughter is a graduate of UF in broadcast journalism and her husband is an alumnus of both FSU and UCF in rhetoric – undergraduate and graduate respectively).
Grandparents, neighbors, friends , and even doctors can all be involved in the homeschooling journey. My parents often gave the kids good books; my neighbors let us interview them; my friends had leadership roles in our home school support group and gave our children direction, support and encouragement; and even our doctors participated in career nights.
It may not take a village to raise a child, but the involvement of others in the education of our children gave them a richer and fuller appreciation for the education they received.