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A gripe about a co-op class
September 21, 2013 at 11:42 AM

My fifth grader is taking a class our homeschool co-op (where classes are taught by teachers, not just "moms," and we pay for each class directly to the teacher) where they study a part of U.S. history and build LEGO scenes about it. Each student is responsible for a 10 minute presentation during the semester where they talk about a period of history and the rest of the class time is spent constructing models and scenes. (She chose Native Americans as her topic.)

Anyway, this seemed like it'd be the class she'd love the most, but after her first class last week she was pretty bummed about it. When I pressed her for more information, she said that it was partly because the teacher had brought her toddler and her infant (in an ergo carrier) to class with her and was spending part of the class time corraling the toddler (who at one point got an Expo marker and drew on the wall) or taking care of the baby, and also just didn't seem to have good control over the class. I can vouch for that last part because I was next door helping my son in his sewing class, and we could clearly hear that class through the wall. They were rowdy.

There have been other teachers who have small children, children who are too young for the class the mom is teaching, and so those moms get someone else to look after their little ones while they teach. Since they are being paid for this, it makes sense to me! So I emailed the co-op admins and explained my concern. They got back to me later in the day and said they agreed and had spoken to the teacher about this. The teacher had some excuses about how there were kids in there who were supposed to be in a later class but for whatever reason had to come to that one, and she said she'd find someone to watch her younger kids during class, and they thanked me for letting them know. I mean, this woman is getting paid $60 an hour to teach this class; she could at least spend the hour focused on teaching the class. I'm really surprised that anyone would even think it's okay to bring babies to a class you are teaching.

Then what really irked me, this lady and I are in a private FB group together. She was complaining in there about her child being "kicked out" of the class! Kicked out! The class is for 5th-8th grade kids and her child is not even two years old. She also said, "I just think this child is going to have a hard time learning anything from me this semester. They want instruction, and I have a more Montessori approach." Ugh... I hate it when people throw up the word "Montessori" without knowing what it means. Yes, Montessori includes mixed-age classrooms, but most typically those are mixed ages in a range of three years - like preschool & kindergarten together, or grades 1-3 together - not toddlers with middle schoolers. And even in a Montessori classroom, the teacher teaches and has control of the classroom. It's not chaos.

Ok, end of my vent!

Have any of you ever had an issue with a co-op class?


  • mem82
    by mem82
    September 21, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Oi! That would annoy me. LOL If I'm paying for it, then I'd like to get my money worth. Can she hire one of the older homeschool girls to watch the babies? You are right, that isn't the right mix of ages. I bet she would care if you took a few younger kids into her class because 'you are more Montessori' LOL.

  • mem82
    by mem82
    September 21, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    I am waiting for the younger kids to get a bit older before trying a co op. They seem...scary and drama filled. LOL

  • PurpleCupcake
    September 21, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    $60 an hour? That's insane!

    She is doing a job. Jobs don't let you bring your toddlers to work with you. 

    Her logic is flawed and I would have concerns about her teaching my kids. 

  • AutymsMommy
    September 21, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Oh boy, would I be annoyed. The larger co-ops here have a nursery that a couple parents volunteer in; the children who belong to teachers or parents who are teaching, or simply children who are too young to attend classes at the co-op, go to the nursery.

    I know how difficult I find it to tutor ONE older child with a 4 year old and a 1 year old in tow, I would NEVER presume to be able to do it with a classroom full of older children!

  • hipmomto3
    September 21, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    The class costs $60 for 12 weeks. There are 12 kids (were more last week, but supposedly the cap is at 12 and it's full), so yeah - she's getting $720 for 12 weeks = $60/week. Or $1 a minute. :) 

    We've done less-organized co-ops in the past and while they have their merits (they were way cheaper - more like $50 for our whole family per semester), there were also a lot of moms kind of flaking out, or classes being taught by people who weren't really 'experts' in any sense of the word, in that field. These classes at this co-op are taught by people who have some kind of experience or expertise. The choir and piano classes are taught by a woman with a degree in music, for example; the sewing classes are taught by a woman who has run her own seamstress business for twenty years, that sort of thing. I know this particular teacher has run a Lego club for some time, out of a children's store she owns (selling cloth diapers and stuff). 

    I understand different approaches and philosophies, but professionalism should exist no matter what your teaching philosophy is. If you are being paid to care for others' children (ultimately, that's what it is) - you don't presume to bring your own children along as well. If I had a job teaching in a public school, I wouldn't think it would be okay to bring my trio into the room with me. :)

    Quoting PurpleCupcake:

    $60 an hour? That's insane!

    She is doing a job. Jobs don't let you bring your toddlers to work with you. 

    Her logic is flawed and I would have concerns about her teaching my kids. 

  • ablackdolphin
    September 21, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    I'd be more than ticked.  It's one thing if it's a group of mom's teaching other kids free but when you're paying for it, that's a whole other ball game! Shame on her!

  • debramommyof4
    September 21, 2013 at 4:08 PM

     I would have been really upset as well.  That is not good.  I love our co-op classes, but so far it is just us moms teaching.  We are having so much fun in the class I am teaching. 

  • jen2150
    by jen2150
    September 21, 2013 at 7:06 PM
    I have had issues but on the opposite end. I run a local co-op. Getting moms to volunteer has been quite a challenge. I only have one mom helping me teach. Co-op classes take a lot of work. They are also one of favorite parts of homeschooling. I have met so many incredible homeschoolers. I love planning large classes for other kids. It gives me the opportunity to plan classes that require more kids in order to make it work. I also love seeing my kids exchanging ideas and working with other kids. I have learned so much from teaching others. Also in your situation that is uncalled for. It depends on the type of co-op. I belong to both kinds. I run a mostly volunteer co-op. I would expect a mom to step in and help but not in one you are paying a fair amount of money.
  • hipmomto3
    September 21, 2013 at 9:58 PM
    I agree, in a less structured co-op, I'd totally accept this as par for course. But for my 3 children to each take 4 classes this semester, I'm paying close to $800 (different fees for different classes).
  • TidewaterClan
    September 21, 2013 at 10:09 PM
    That is unprofessional of her all the way around. I hope the class improves so your daughter can enjoy it. It sounds like it should be fun!

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