Someone asked recently if I am selling all my homeschooling books (since I'm not home schooling anymore). But I am home schooling, still. We're just using a hybrid school. What's that, you ask? A hybrid combines the best of school and home, where the students attend 2 or 3 days per week, and paid teachers teach them the concepts they need for the week's work. We do pay for this: more than just staying at home, but much less than the local Catholic schools.
Is it the same as a co-op? No. From my perspective, a co-op is when a group of moms get together and share the teaching of a couple of classes, usually at the high school level. The costs are lower, or nonexistent, and the moms who are science or math experts can provide valuable services to their friends who aren't. A hybrid uses paid teachers who are experts in their fields.
I've been homeschooling for 19 years, why do I want to use a co-op now? The first 4 children all got farmed out to Catholic high schools which have been very good, on the whole, but not perfect. We missed out on a lot of time with our kids, and I have a big problem with paying lots of money for a not-stellar education and a nominally Catholic environment.
The Hybrid has grown from my friend's basement into a lovely environment with 200 students, pre-K - 11! Though she's tried to get me to join for years, I never felt compelled to pay money for teaching anything below high school, because I can handle all of that just fine. Now that Pip is entering high school, we thought this might be the time.
This hybrid is using the Kolbe Academy curriculum for high school, which would be my choice at home, but too challenging for me to teach without a lot of stress and/or help, so this is perfect! Meg lucks out and gets to go "to school" in 6th grade because she would be too lonely at home with me---and I can send the 2 of them for way less than the cost of Tom's school!
I will still be overseeing my children's education and making changes to their workloads, as needed. Spending plenty of time with them at the kitchen table, knowing what they're doing and helping.
What about Socialization? That all important subject which I, generally, think is a load of malarky. Home schooled children get plenty of socialization in playdates, group activities, field trips, and it's all in mixed-age family-style groups. Ideal in my book. However, I will acknowledge that most teens do need to be around their peers. No, I don't think they all need to be the same age, but they need to be around other teens in safe environments. Large groups going to the movies, or hanging out eating pizza and playing games. I know myself well enough to know that I would have a very difficult time arranging suitable activities for my at-home teens that would meet their very real needs. The Hybrid will be great for that. He'll be able to develop friendships in his class of 20 (at last count)---more than he would if he just went to the monthly teen activities with our home school group.
Is the Hybrid going to be the perfect school? No. It's going to be awesome, with some wonderful families that we know and love. It's going to have vexations because it's full of sinners, and it is always hard to give up some control to The School. It's going to be thoroughly Catholic where the students will be taught why we believe what we believe and how to respond in society.
The education will be a good one provided someone puts in the effort. It will be better than I could provide at home, but not flawless. None of them are. It takes a combination of a smart, dedicated student, and excellent teachers for the best education. A motivated child can make great strides where the teachers are lacking, and a smart student can waste opportunities if he doesn't do the work. And excellent teachers can bring out the best in average or less-than-average students.
We are looking forward to this new stage in our home schooling! Not the driving. Getting up early and getting out of the house. Ugh. We are never excited about the driving, but we'll save that for another time. :-)
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