Disclaimer: This post is meant to help homeschool families who are not a part of the Diploma Program run a co-op. If your student is part of the Diploma Program, please click HERE for Omnibus requirements and to determine if joining a co-op is right for you.
If you’re reading this article, you must be a dedicated homeschooling parent! You’ve not only committed to teaching your student the Great Books with the Omnibus curriculum; you want to be involved. You want to lead a co-op with other like-minded parents and students to facilitate discussions about free will, moral responsibility, and rhetoric. But how to start?
If you haven’t already, you should make sure you know everything there is to know about the Omnibus curriculum. Once you’ve got that under your belt, let’s begin.
1. Choose your level.
This is an obvious one but it does take some consideration. All students learn differently and might be at different reading levels. It’s important to assess these things when choosing the level of Omnibus because your students will be spending the entire year absorbed in the course. No matter which level you choose, there will be copious amounts of reading. So don’t choose one level because there are fewer books. Many years of research and planning went into the Omnibus curriculum, and state standards were taken into account when determining the book lists and events to cover each year.
2. Decide how you will take the course.
We offer You-Teach, live online, or self-paced course options. Generally, you would not choose live online because all the benefits of having a co-op would be covered in the live class. Many co-ops opt for the self-paced option because it’s easy to complete the self-paced lessons and the reading at home during the week, and then meet once a week to discuss. We even offer a discount to co-ops for multiple self-paced registrations!
Opting for the You-Teach Omnibus course means more responsibility for the parents, and that can be intimidating for some. One co-op leader decided to share the load. She created a syllabus based loosely on the plans on the Teacher CD. Each family received a list of assignments for the week so they could work through it at their own pace. The written assignments (which she graded) were due on Thursday nights, and the co-op was on Fridays. Splitting up the discussion and assignments between home and co-op made the burden easier to bear. If you have a co-op leader who is willing to grade the assignments as well, it gives both parents and students a sense of accountability.
3. Finalize the book list.
We recommend reading all of the books on the list because each book was chosen for a reason. Both Omnibus Primary and Secondary are meant to be taken as complete year courses and count as three credits on the transcript. However, homeschoolers have the benefit of being able to tailor their course to their needs. Maybe there is a particular topic that is sensitive to your students that you’d rather not cover now. Or maybe you’ve already read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe three times. Whatever the case, make sure you finalize the book list as early as possible so students have time to get some of the reading done over the summer.
4. Decide how to use your co-op time.
The hour and a half (or whatever amount of time) you devote to Omnibus is precious and you can use it however you’d like. Some parents use the time to review and discuss. One parent had students read their prepared written answers for all the Q&A for both Primary and Secondary. Then they discussed any additional or tangential topics. Another parent assigned activities from the textbook (don’t skip these!) or ran debates about the topics covered that week. Or you could select some passages from the book that week to read aloud during co-op time. This works especially well for plays, or it can help students understand those challenging primary texts. Occasionally, you could go on field trips to art or history museums or historical sites.
Hopefully, now your mind is racing with ideas about how you want to run your co-op. It’s always great to exchange ideas with other parents who have taught the course on one of the Facebook groups.
Remember, you don’t have to do it alone!