Local homeschool co-op proves to be a success

Kim Robins - Posted on Nov 13, 2013 - 01:37 PM

Photo: Gloucester homeschooler Tracey Esplin has organized a local co-op for homeschoolers that has proven more popular than she expected. Above, Esplin leads a K-2 art class that focuses on six master artists. Reviewing their knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci are students, clockwise from lower left, Zachary Vian, Dawson Dowdy, Rihanna Isham, Bryson Esplin, Isabella Willet, Juliette Thompson and Daphne Dowdy. Photo by Kim Robins

Gloucester homeschooler Tracey Esplin has organized a local co-op for homeschoolers that has proven more popular than she expected. Above, Esplin leads a K-2 art class that focuses on six master artists. Reviewing their knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci are students, clockwise from lower left, Zachary Vian, Dawson Dowdy, Rihanna Isham, Bryson Esplin, Isabella Willet, Juliette Thompson and Daphne Dowdy. Photo by Kim Robins

Photo: In a class on entrepreneurship, instructor Tracey Esplin leads a discussion on what services and goods her students could deliver to make money. Discussing their ideas are, clockwise from left, David Dowdy, Ashley McCormack, Levi McCormack, Ashton Vian and Chad Dean. Photo by Kim Robins

In a class on entrepreneurship, instructor Tracey Esplin leads a discussion on what services and goods her students could deliver to make money. Discussing their ideas are, clockwise from left, David Dowdy, Ashley McCormack, Levi McCormack, Ashton Vian and Chad Dean. Photo by Kim Robins

Gloucester homeschooler Tracey Esplin knew that homeschool co-ops had been successful in other areas, and wanted to try the concept locally. The co-ops bring small groups of homeschooled children together in a classroom setting for instruction led by qualified teachers. Esplin opened her co-op this fall, and has been impressed with the response and its success.

Esplin said the co-ops are popular because they give homeschooled children an opportunity to interact with others in a classroom setting, and they can offer instruction in areas that some homeschool parents may not have the background to teach.

After spending much of last year gauging interest among other homeschoolers, surveying what topics parents were interested in, locating a site and vetting teachers, Esplin starting accepting applications. She charged $5 per class, just enough to cover expenses.

When classes began in September, Esplin had eight teachers offering 16 courses for children at pre-kindergarten through high school levels. She said she had hoped to have about 25 students for the first year of the co-op, and was very pleased when 53 signed on.

The students hail from Gloucester, Mathews, Middlesex, Yorktown and West Point. Many come from Esplin’s homeschool group, called Homeschooling Together, but advertising helped to get the word out to parents outside of her organization. The co-op is based at Reedswood Christian Church, which leases space to the co-op.

Classes meet on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and are about 50 minutes in length. Offerings this fall include literature for preschoolers, kindergarten fundamentals, phonics and reading, a study of six classic master artists for pre-K through second grade and for third through eighth, math fun for pre-K through second, drama, music, science for first and second grades and for third through fifth, biology for sixth through eight graders, entrepreneurship for third through eighth grades and U.S. geography for fifth through ninth grade.