Community, not Co-op

Our Charlotte Mason community - Truth, Beauty, Goodness - had its first meeting of the new school year.  Notice I said "community" and not "co-op".  That's because the term "co-op" generally connotates a bunch of images that I don't want associated with our group.  Things like harried children, joyless moms, isolated subjects, segregated children, various methods and the like. Instead, we strive for relationships with each of the students, joyful learning, attention as a habit, interested students, clear methods and a unifying philosophy.*  Our community is a servant to our homeschools, not a master.  Since each family involved is trying to implement the Mason philosophy at home, it ends up working beautifully.

We call ourselves Truth, Beauty, Goodness for a reason - Phillippians 4:8.  "If we give our admiration, our faith, to 'whatsoever things are lovely and of good report,' if we 'think on these things,' and not on things unworthy, which we are free to depreciate, we shall be in a fair way to fix 'well and wisely' the admiration of the young people," says Mason.

Our handicraft this week was using decoupage to make Enquire Within books!
May I suggest the great use and value of a household book, in which the young housekeeper notes down exactly how to do everything, from the scouring of a floor to the making of an omelet, either as she has done it herself, or has watched it being done, with the little special wrinkles that every household gathers. Such an "Enquire Within" should be invaluable hereafter, as containing personal experiences...Vol. 5, p. 259
I haven't been around this craft technique since I watched my mother gabbing with a bunch of other moms at Mrs. Kostecka's table sometime in the 70s.  I recall lots of Holly Hobby pictures on plaster of Paris wall hangings.  Read how we went about it at our handicraft teacher's blog - Where the Blacktop Ends.

In the burdock den - girls doing nature study 

A Burdock—clawed my Gown—
Not Burdock's—blame—
But mine—
Who went too near
The Burdock's Den—

-Emily Dickinson
We have tweaked the schedule and it appears to work very well.  Look under "The Schedule" at this link for the updated schedule.

So much more to tell about! I'll save more for later posts.   I am thankful that this is how our first week of school ended.  

* (Please, I know there are wonderful co-ops out there - we are, however, purposefully operating against the negative stereotypes.)


  1. Love hearing about your co-op, er, community. I just posted some similar thoughts on the Childlight Blog about co-ops and what I am doing this year.

  2. Can't wait to read it, Jeannette! (It's not up yet.) You have such great ideas!

  3. Thanks for posting this! I've been turning around the idea of starting something other than a 'co-op' and really love the 'community' alternative. I hope you'll be posting more about what your community does!

  4. What a wonderful community building idea - love it! I also love the "Enquire Within" books and would love more information. Are these books the moms created or the kids? My DD would love to do something like this. Please tell us more. :)

  5. Eva,
    Each mom and each child created their own book. Follow the link to see how. If something isn't clear - please ask here! Here is a link to the wikipedia article on the Enquire Within book. You can link through to the actual books. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enquire_Within_Upon_Everything
    My son will be entering lego directions on how to build some of his creations, my daughter is entering recipes and weather lore, another is drawing how seeds germinate, etc. It's whatever strikes them that they want to record and remember! We bought sturdy, blank journals from Michael's or Hobby Lobby and the decoupage was really easy.

  6. Beautifully said. We're getting together with a few families this year for crafts, service projects, and day trips together. I so know what you are saying about how co-ops can end up feeling.
    I'll be back for CM ideas and inspriation.

  7. Three cheers for community vs. co-op! I've been there and can relate.

    Moms do come to a co-op with some expectations that they will find support and encouragement there. Yet, it may be intended simply and only as a place to obtain 'extra classes and socialization'.

    'Community', on the other hand, seems to imply a unity and support in the particular focus of the group. I think you hit on something very important here!

  8. This post just breathes life. I appreciate the vision of homeschooling, community, and Charlotte Mason's brilliant ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  9. What wonderful notebooks! I'm sure they'll be treasured by all for many years.

  10. I am in the beginning stages of organizing a community and would love to hear if you divide the children into forms or if you all stay together. I'm finding myself stuck on this. Thanks!

    1. Dear Melissa,
      The TBG Community all stays together. We may occasionally do something different/more with the olders. Let me know if you have any other questions!