Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sharing at The Lighthouse Co-op

Some of the neighborhood children from my English class in Japan
It's 9:30 as I pull into a parking space at Camano Chapel.  I'm at The Lighthouse Co-op, a Christian homeschool cooperative that meets at Camano Chapel and offers experiential, hand-on learning opportunities for homeschool families.  There are 64 families enrolled this term, which began in late January and will run through March. When I arrive, the opening assembly, which begins each class day, is over and students and parents are moving across the campus to their classrooms.  

I'm here as a guest of Christina Bentley, a homeschool mom from Sedro Woolley.  Like all the parents, Christiana is teaching a class, and she's asked me to come and share with her students.  The class is The Geography of Missions and the five students present are in grades 3-6.  I've come to tell them about my experience as a missionary to Japan.

Last week the students talked about China, so before my presentation begins they share the reports they've worked on during the week about China.  One child shows the name stamp that his dad brought home from a trip to Hong Kong and gives the kids a turn at inking the stamp and stamping their own paper. The others share facts about the Great Wall, the animals of China, and other items of interest they have learned from their research.

I serve sushi and Japanese apple pear; the helper mom has brought the kids chopsticks, with which they try eating their sushi.  I share my pictures with them, we count to ten in Japanese, I  talk about my apartment, Christianity in Japan, the sweet potato truck.  I answer their questions and encourage them to get to know the Japanese students who come for summer trips or to attend community college.

Then, with a flurry, the class is over.  The kids gather their things and move on to their next class while a couple of moms come into our classroom and arrange the chairs in a circle for knitting class  My friend Karen Schmidt, who has been assisting in the Spanish class next door, moves on to teach her Creative Writing class, where Christina will be assisting.  All students take three classes each Wednesday, the day the co-op meets.  There are twelve classes offered each hour.

Classes throughout the morning are diverse -- academics (such as math, science, and astronomy) and enrichment classes (painting, scrapbooking, ballet, puppets, public speaking, to name a few).  Karen's son Jonathan, a high schooler, has enjoyed classes in CAD (Computer Aided Design), Photoshop, ultimate frisbee, and remote control aircraft.

A homeschool family is eligible to join the co-op once their eldest child is six years old or a first grader. Younger siblings are welcome to attend the kindergarten class and the pre-K child care.

Families who participate in The Lighthouse Co-op can enjoy field trips and can take advantage of the standardized testing offered by the co-op.  And they find that their children's worlds expand as they interact with other students and benefit from the enthusiasm and expertise of the teachers.

It's not too early to be thinking about school for your kids for next year.  If you live in the Stanwood/Camano area and if you homeschool (or think you'd like to) you can learn more about The Lighthouse Co-op here.

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