The homeschool co-op movement is sweeping America among members of the the nation's growing homeschooling community.
For many years, homeschool families have had connected associations with other homeschool families, mainly because they were few and far between. As homeschooling has become more popular, closer associations with others has produced the homeschool co-op concept.
A homeschool co-op brings homeschooling families together for a variety of reasons, allowing them to share resources and talents. The co-ops, which meet once a week during the academic year, fill voids for homeschoolers. The parents offer to teach a class, suited to their own talents, and parents can place their children in those classes to supplement their own homeschooling curriculum. This concept remains true to the homeschool philosophy but offers group learning to enhance the homeschool experience. The co-op offers support to parents and children with an emphasis on successful homeschooling.
For many years, rural southwest Missouri homeschoolers have traveled to Springfield or Joplin to participate in homeschool co-ops. This fall, Summit City Christian Homeschool Academy will open and willprovide opportunities for area homeschoolers.
Charlie and Teresa Steward, of Cassville, have been driving to Springfield once a week for their children to attend a co-op there. The Stewards saw a need for a homeschool co-op in Barry and Lawrence County area, and with the help of other families, they have created Summit City Christian Homeschool Academy (SCCHA).
"We are so happy to eliminate that hour and a half drive each week," said Teresa Steward. "We continue to co-op with other homeschooling families in our communities. Our children absolutely love co-op, so even though the drive was not convenient and was expensive, we made the sacrifices necessary to make it happen. Now that we have opportunities closer to home, this is going to be great."
In the spring, SCCHA organizers held an informational meeting at New Site Baptist Church in Monett. Approximately 30 homeschool families were represented. This meeting encouraged the organizers of SCCHA to advance with plans for the co-op in the local area.
SCCHA will hold its first Co-op day on Sept. 9 at the Aurora United Methodist Church, 1211 Carnation, offering classes such as pottery, wilderness survival, math, language arts, biology and chemistry. The academy will offer a nursery and a variety of classes for students ages 4 to 18.
The co-op also allows homeschoolers the opportunity for extracurricular activities. Springfield hosts an annual National Homeschool Basketball Championship that fielded 358 teams of homeschool boys and girls ranging from 8 to 19 last year. Among the players last spring was Moriah Jefferson, a McDonald's All-American who was rated the number one college prospect of all lady basketball players. She signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Connecticut.
The National Christian Homeschool Championships offers competition in basketball, volleyball, track and field, golf and soccer.
The SCCHA boys basketball team will compete in the fall National Championships in Springfield Nov. 3 through Nov. 5. Girls basketball is scheduled to begin this fall.
Those interested in joining SCCHA for 2011 can visit www.summitcityacademy.org.