YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED...
Q: How do we know what is going on in the group?
A: INTERNET-based: Once you have your membership paperwork & registration fee paid--you will be approved for access to the members only side of the group website (if you filled out the online request form) or you need to go to the website & fill out that form so I can approve you. You will then have access to our online calendar and a weekly email with calendar information is automatically sent to the email address you provide. We also have an announcement email list for additional information, concerns or kudos for the group. It is generated through yahoogroups.com; GCHAnnouncments@yahoogroups.com. (If you need to unblock or put this in your email program as a "safe sender", please do so after joining.) You are added to this email list once your paperwork is submitted. Some items are marked FYI-- in the subject line. This means they are not "official" GCH events or announcements--usually community events or classes or activities or updates from AFHE that you may find helpful. Our last communication tool is the GCHChat@yahoogroups.com email list. This is an optional means for our members to communicate back/forth or for us to brainstorm ideas for problems or opportunities in the group. This is informal & not moderated. We allow previous members to stay on this list to keep in touch with us if they move on from homechooling, Phoenix or the group. The purpose is more social than informational.
Q: If there are plenty of parent teachers/helpers or a guest instructor in the classroom, why do I have to stick around during "co op"?
A: This is not a "drop off" program. The success of our program depends on parents helping out so that no one parent/teacher/helper is overwhelmed with teaching or guiding our students in a social or learning activity. We want good supervision of our students; the more parents around the better. Working together toward a common goal is a fantastic way for us to get to know one another, build friendships with other moms & share ideas/encouragement in homeschooling. You can't know people you don't spend any time with & you can't feel supported by people you don't know. Supervising and helping with our kids as a group gives us that opportunity--to truly get to know one another & develop community. It is such a good experience for our students to learn from a variety of teachers and to learn group social skills in a supportive, fun, Christian environment. And yes, there is the liability issue & stress of what to do in the event of an accident or emergency if the parent is not around.
Q: Will other parents be disciplining my child?
A: What I tell the kids is this--"If it sounds like something Mom would say--obey." If you are not in the immediate vicinity or classroom with your child and they are doing something dangerous or disruptive or hurtful to others--a mom nearby or teacher (guest or member) will likely say something to urge your child to have better behavior. If that is not effective, they should find you and give you the basic facts & let you handle it. Our kids are all "a work in progress". There are lots of behaviors they do that they need to learn are not appropriate or welcome in a group setting. Teachable kids who make mistakes are not a problem; kids who do the same thing over and over when they are given feedback from children, their parents & other adults can be. Special needs kids will need closer supervision by their parent. Ultimately we are not looking for "perfect" students; we are looking for growth and a willingness learn how to get along with others.
Q: What kind of behavior is expected on a field trip?
A: Students need to stay with the group--don't wander off or get ahead of the guide or lag far behind the group. Students are representatives of our group, homeschooling and maybe even Christians to the people at the field trip site. They should be careful to follow directions given, respectful of the property or facility by not touching things without permission and quiet & considerate when a guide or facilitator is speaking.
Q: What if something comes up the night before or the morning of a field trip and my family cannot attend as planned?
A: Call the field trip coordinator and leave a message or send an email if you can't get them on the phone. It is important that we bring pretty close to the number we say we are bringing to a field trip site. They plan staffing or supplies based on the numbers we give them. Often these people are used to dealing with public or private (formal) schools where the number of students is pretty set and they easily bring the number they say they will. When we don't, we look rude, inconsiderate, less organized or credible. It can hurt our relationship in the future with this place or the people who run it. It can foster the temptation for field trip sites to treat homeschoolers at a disadvantage to "regular" schools if we have the reputation of being difficult to deal with or "flaky". For a coordinator to show up at a field trip with more than a few less people than they committed is terribly embarrassing. It helps if they can give an honest accounting/excuse for your absence. If the coordinator knows you are not coming, there is no possibility of holding up the group waiting for you to show up late; they can confidently start on time.
Q: Why do I not get a refund for field trips or activities or supplies that I prepay if my child is ill or we have a legitimate reason that we can't show up?
A: Most of the time the field trip site bills ahead or requires payment for the number of students or participants committed to ahead of time. It is not fair to expect the coordinator to cover the committed cost of your RSVP or to have to hassle with record keeping & follow up involved in refunds. When you pay for a ticket to a regular public event, they don't give refunds if you don't show up. If you know you need to back out ahead of time, you might be able to get another family to pay you to take your spots. If we have a legitimate situation where several families are ill or get lost, etc. paying for the total expected smooths over the inclination for the field trip site to see our group as described above, in a negative light.
Q: I'd love to coordinate a field trip for our group? How do I do that?
A: Contact Dawn directly by email, phone or in person or leave a message for her with the Assistant Coordinator on site at weekly co op. We need to make sure your idea fits into the schedule for our group & doesn't conflict/compete with something we are already doing or that we don't already have the same field trip or type of activity planned by another person this year. (another field trip, competition, activity planned for one age group that might make finances, time or transportation a burden on a parent of children of multiple ages, etc.) Once you have the "go ahead" to schedule & plan a field trip, Dawn will need the details to post it on the group calendar & include it in the weekly email. Our group has a reputation that we want to maintain over time so doors open for GCH rather than close because of it.
Q: I or my child is having an ongoing or a one-time serious problem with another student or family--what do we do?
A: (Gossip behind their back and get everyone to shun them.) NO! Look at our Code of Conduct. As the Bible encourages, try to speak (in love/with consideration) privately with the child or parent or both to express your concern and resolve this quickly. Don't just overlook something that "sticks" with you or your child for more than a day. It will fester and cause a problem if it can't truly be overlooked. If going to the person doesn't improve things--talk to leadership privately who may be able to intervene or give constructive suggestions.
Q: I am having surgery, giving birth, out of town, have to work etc. on a co op day, does that really mean that my child cannot attend without me?
A: For these reasonable/unavoidable situations that occur now and then--if you have an adult relative willing to bring them--that works great. If you do not and you have a friend in the group who is willing to bring your child & be responsible for their behavior/safety--that is fine. Otherwise--sorry, they will have to miss too.
Q: My child is working 3 grade levels beyond where he/she would be in public school--why do you insist on putting him/her with his age mates for co op?
A: It is common for most homeschooled students to be above grade level in some if not many academic areas. We are delighted that each of us are able to teach at home to our child(ren)'s strengths/weakness and grade level. When we get together for co op enrichment class--social concerns are more important than academic ones. Classes are mixed age & definitely "mixed ability". We think this is a strength! Smart kids need friends at their emotional/social maturity level and we hope to provide that. In utilizing quality outside programs & competitions to enhance our program, we need to respect the age restrictions of those teachers/facilitators & programs that are used to dealing with traditional age-based schools. If your child gives their age appropriate class a chance for several weeks & still doesn't seem to "fit in"--we will consider moving your child to a different class if you are willing to let them "sit out" competitions or classes that outside entities insist on using chronological age as a requirement for participation in their program. We are more open to moving a student up or down when it is a matter of a 1 year difference between the age they are & the grade level they want to be in.
Q: Catholics have some very different religious beliefs & practices than most of the Protestant denominations--why are they welcome to participate?
A: The central doctrines as outlined in our Statement of Faith are common to both Catholics & Protestants. The short answer is that we have more important common ground than differences in tradition & religious practices. We are "cousins in the faith". We are not a "Catholic Group" but we are happy to welcome Catholics who accept our statement of Faith/Code of Conduct & who are respectful & loving to the majority of evangelicals in our group and vice versa. Adults should avoid teaching children in our group narrow/detailed doctrine or religious beliefs and instead leave that to their parents.
Q: Mormons love the Bible & Jesus--why aren't we welcome in your group?
A: We don't mean to offend but we don't revere Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon as you do and your sharing/referring/reciting or respect for these is offensive/awkward for us. We believe these are additions to the Bible that we are warned against. We don't want to start things off on such a negative footing of being inherently distrustful or strongly opposed to things that are important to you. Deuteronomy 4:2 Proverbs 30:5-6 Revelation 22:18-19 I John 4:1
Q: So you have a lot of rules and are pretty rigid?
A: Nope. We strive to be organized and good communicators. We have ways of doing things that have worked well in the past or that seem inherently fair or reasonable that guide us. Ultimately-- people matter over program. We try to be flexible or accommodating if it is helpful to a family without detriment to the group as a whole.