Moms who homeschool their offspring need to learn to be super creative like the educated teachers in public schools. At least, I assume they are. They have to spend a lot of time getting a degree plus one extra year as an apprentice. They spend years in training, learning how to craft lessons for all subjects, and providing the kids with stimulation and motivation. The problem is that their curriculum is very rigid as dictated by the school district. Children learn better when you pique their interest and grab their attention and it isn’t always by following a prescribed plan. It helps that homeschooling involves one or two students as a rule so there are few distractions and you can also customize their lessons. When coop day rolls around, there is a group situation and I try to use my best ideas at this time.

For most subjects I use artwork, display boards, the computer screen, and all sorts of show and tell stuff. I never want a dry session where the students just read out of a dull book. If that were desirable, I would have left them in public school. I want to give them more and make learning fun and interesting. The other benefit of teaching at home or a coop is that you can include all the subjects you want, even those that are no longer part of the public school curriculum due to lack of funds. Educational programs are now limited to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic—plus science, but there is no place for music and the arts. I wanted to remedy this right out of the box. Sure, we have recess and classes in computer science, but the more “frivolous” subject that usually fall by the wayside have priority. I believe in well-rounded students who are as familiar with a museum as with an Apple store at the mall.

Therefore I teach art and music—both the history and practice. I intersperse looking and listening sessions with demonstrations. For example, recently I had the students make oil paintings, charcoal drawings, watercolors, and pastel sketches. They discovered the unique properties of each medium. To teach them what a mural is, I bought some large pieces of plywood board and had the children coat it first with a coat of white from a paint spray gun from Artists must prepare their “canvas” be it paper, linen, or a wall. This done, they could go on to use tempera paint to make their compositions. I call this fun in art class. It is completely educational while it is also entertaining. The same goes for music time. We use percussion instruments while a few knowledgeable kids play a reed, string, or wind instrument. The effect can be horrible or magical depending upon the talent at the coop. We aren’t going to perform any time soon, but we may display our “murals” for all the parents on visiting day.