Finding Community in Co-op

     One year ago, I was desperately searching for a community of people where my family could find friendship and fellowship. In spite of living in the area for nearly two years and attending every library story time we could, playing at the local parks, and meeting our neighbors, we had few friends in our new city. We were in a church but finding it very difficult to build relationships, and although we’re blessed to live in a homeschool-friendly county, we knew almost no one else who homeschooled. I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever find a place where we belonged when I stumbled across the open house flyer for a group called Honeybee Christian Co-op. It advertised fun enrichment classes, monthly moms’ nights, and even a nursery that would keep my young son a part of our homeschool experience. By all appearances, it was exactly the kind of place I’d been longing for. My husband and I talked about it and decided that we should definitely attend open house and just try it out.

      So almost exactly one year ago, I dropped my husband off at work and took my three daughters and son to test the waters of this seemingly too-good-to-be-true group of families. My outgoing daughters were eager to meet new friends, my son willingly toddled off toward the nursery, and I was a nervous wreck. It was almost like going on a first date. Would they like us? Would we like them? Could this be… the one? They turned out to be exactly what I had hoped to find: friendly, kind, and just crazy enough to handle our own family’s eccentricities. I’m not going to lie; that open house was a bit chaotic. But only a few minutes into the morning, I knew that we could belong here. Here were other moms who wanted to raise men and women that love Jesus and love one another above all. Here was a group of people eager to pour into each other’s lives and offer up their individual talents and interests for the sake of creating a unique experience for their children. And I wanted my family to be a part of that.

     We’re now getting close to the end of our first year at Honeybee, and I am so incredibly grateful for this community of friends.  My daughters have been in first grade this year, and thanks to co-op, have learned about the 50 states and their geography, creative writing, and Latin America. They had a great class that used Legos to solve problems and another filled with engaging science experiments. They’ve been introduced to a wide variety of handicrafts, enjoyed weekly P.E., and had the opportunity to research and present two projects each. My children have enjoyed fun playdates and gone on exciting field trips. I honestly can’t imagine a better first grade than what they’ve had between their co-op classes and what we’ve done at home. But the fun classes and great exposure to a variety of ideas and studies are not the best part of Honeybee.

      The best part of Honeybee Christian Co-op is the community it provides to its members. Relationships take time to build, but I count the moms in our co-op as my friends. I know they’ll pray for my family if I ask them to. I know they’ll kindly share their own experiences and ideas if I’m not sure how to handle a homeschooling/parenting difficulty. I know I can bounce my own ideas off of them. At this co-op, moms work together each week and play together on our monthly moms’ night out. Not only are my children making wonderful friends, but I am too.

     Another amazing benefit to being part of Honeybee is the fact that it’s special needs inclusive. You may wonder how that would benefit my family, since my own children don’t have special needs. But I have watched my children learn firsthand this year that people may look different and act differently and have different abilities, but that all people are created in the image of God and are therefore just like them in every way that matters. They have learned to simply accept others for who they are without question. Those kinds of lessons can be taught but never fully learned without experience. Trust me when I say that we have a great group of kids in our co-op. They learn from their teachers, but they also learn from each other.

     I can’t imagine not continuing as part of our co-op. We could homeschool without it, of course. But doing so would remove an incredibly valuable aspect of my  family’s life. I hope you consider coming to our open house on March 20. Our group may not end up being the right fit for your family, but who knows? You just might find the place where you belong.

Looking forward to meeting you,

Katie

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