Parents on "Co-Schooling"
Our experience with Greenhouse, is of course as personal as the next family’s. However, everything we came seeking, we have found:
A classroom experience, caring teachers and education beyond Mom, high standards and expectations in morality and values, educational encouragement, challenging curriculum, performance opportunities, social friendships and culture, chances to make meaningful relationships outside of family, a place to belong that embraces our freedom as homeschoolers, a place to let our children try out their independence, knowing they are being guided in a Godly way in our absence, and of course, despite schooling at home, a reason to pick out a cute backpack. :)
We are thrilled to be a part of Greenhouse and I pray that it continues to grow, thrive and most of all maintain all that makes it the unique blessing that it is.
When I was first investigating Greenhouse, I had already home-schooled for a few years and was having a hard time wrapping my head around exactly what Greenhouse did and its specific relationship with families. It was certainly not a co-op, and I understood that though the children only attend one day a week, Greenhouse did lend a sort of “spine” that would in many ways hold together and direct the rest of the week for families.
Yet my whole first year I still spent trying to figure out my relationship to Greenhouse. Part of me was internally fighting – “This seems much more like a school than I had thought. I’m not sure I like all of this homework! What if we don't have time to prepare for everything? Am I preparing for everything in an acceptable manner? Do we really need to take the play this seriously?” (Aside: That thought soon disappeared after witnessing my first play.) I still wasn’t sure I wanted a “school” but I also knew that Greenhouse was working. It was working in the life of my daughter, and it was working in our home.
When Tom announced the new term of “co-schooling” in April, I had the same initial reaction: please don’t call it a school – we HOME-SCHOOL. Though pride in who you are is important, the Lord worked in my heart to point out my stubbornness – really, that is what I had been fighting all along I think, and I came to not only rest in that term, but to embrace it. It really and truly embodies all that Greenhouse does, and does well. Greenhouse recognizes the nurturing value of the home, and that parents are the primary educators. Yet they also do things for families that can really only be done well in a community–a school–setting. There’s the art show, the play, science fair, the classroom mentoring, opportunities for oral presentations, chances to serve and be served, working under various teachers, and all that comes with living and interacting within the body of Christ. They are living out, right in front of our students (and us!) the character and virtues we want to encourage in our home. This coming along-side us is a support and encouragement to both students and parents that cannot be re-created in a family setting alone.
So does Greenhouse “co-school?” You bet. May we stubborn home-school parents see that for the blessing and gift it is to us and our families. May we see that Greenhouse takes the best aspects of home-schooling and far from taking away from parents’ authority and goals for their families, adds to it the strong component of community and accountability. May God continue to work the threads of His kingdom plans through all who combine to make this special body.