Church's co-op ministry offers support to homeschool families

Parker and Callie Owens, ages 7 and 9, respectively, watch a science experiment that was part of a class at Doorposts Homeschool Co-op. Doorposts Homeschool Co-op
Parker and Callie Owens, ages 7 and 9, respectively, watch a science experiment that was part of a class at Doorposts Homeschool Co-op.Doorposts Homeschool Co-op
Published August 10 2016
Updated August 10 2016

WEEKI WACHEE — Doorposts Homeschool Co-op, a ministry of Christian Church in the Wildwood, will kick off its fall semester next month. Homeschool families wishing to participate, or those who would like to learn more, are invited to a registration party on Aug. 18.

When a family chooses to homeschool, Florida law allows the family to decide what curriculum the parents will use to educate their children. Doorposts, said one of its leaders, doesn't tell families how to do that. Rather, since 2006 it has been supporting and ministering to them along the way.

"It's the families' responsibility to decide how they will homeschool," said Jenette McGrew, who co-directs the ministry with Jennifer Porter. "This is not to take the place of what the parents do. It's to add to it. What we do (at Doorposts) is social and extracurricular."

Each family teaches the basics at home, McGrew said. The co-op, which meets on Thursdays for 12 weeks in the fall and eight weeks in the spring, offers special classes for all grade levels and opportunities for socialization for the children.

For example, McGrew and Porter will teach a class about pioneer times.

"Jen and I are excited about it," McGrew said. "Every day, the students will do something fun like learn how to make a candle or make and play games that they did in those days … just doing some fun things with the other families."

Leta Rosnowski directed the program for nine years, until her own children were grown.

"There were six families meeting in each other's homes when it started," Rosnowski said. "Last year, we had 39 families. It really is a wonderful group of families, always working together to make a better future for their children."

The ministry took the name, Doorposts, from Deuteronomy 6 in the Bible, which commands parents to teach their children God's words throughout the day and to "write them on your doorposts of your house and on your gates."

"We always offer a Bible class," McGrew said, noting that most of the families in the co-op are not members of Christian Church in the Wildwood. "Thursday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon is our ladies Bible study (at the church) during the school year. So the homeschool parents could attend Bible study while the kids took classes. It was a way to minister to them while their kids were playing together. So we've always encouraged the women to come to our Bible study, get involved and join a group during the morning session."

At the registration party, there will be a booklet available describing a bit about each of the classes that will be offered for the fall semester. Classes on the schedule include: Book Club, Kids in the Kitchen, Reader Theater, Art, Creative Writing, Music and Movement, PE Prep, Gym With Joe, Bible, Dance With Hayley, American Sign Language, Mini Monet's, World History, Pioneer Days, Creative Play, Books for Boys, Sound Engineering, State x State and Public Speaking.

Parents are required to remain on campus while their children are attending classes and also offer assistance for at least one class period per semester. First-time families and parents who have children under the age of 3 are exempt from the assisting requirement, as well as those who are pregnant.

Most of the teachers are parents. Occasionally, someone is paid to teach a class, as with the American Sign Language class. Church leaders and pastors, like Joe Caputo, also get involved. A volunteer coach for the public schools, Caputo will teach the gym class.

While it is only the second year with Doorposts for McGrew and her daughters, her husband, Joshua, who is also a pastor on staff at the church, has taught art classes at the co-op for several years.

"He's done some music classes, but mostly he does drawing or some type of art class or a Bible class," McGrew said. "He was homeschooled from third grade all the way up. He's been a part of CCW since he was a baby, so he has had an excellent experience with homeschooling."

Porter's husband, Kirk, is also very supportive of her decision to help lead the co-op, she said.

"I agreed to co-lead the co-op because I want more for my young kids than what I can provide them at home," said the mother of three daughters. "We love art, and cooking, and dancing, but doing it in a group or as part of a team is such a wonderful and even challenging experience."

At the party, those who register will pay a $30 family fee that covers both semesters. Certain classes, like art, will require purchasing additional supplies.

"Each class is different," McGrew said, "So we want people to be able to choose what will work best for them. If a family is having a hard time, we can help them out with a scholarship."

There will be two bounce houses at the event, one for the older kids and one for the younger ones.

"We'll have snacks and refreshments. People can talk to the teachers, see a class list, read up on it, sign up, pay for their registration fee, go over the schedule to see what they want to do and sign up for the classes," McGrew said.

"The co-op is a new adventure for Jen and me, but we are thrilled to be homeschooling our children, and to be able to give and receive encouragement and support as well as share our resources, time and gifts with other homeschooling families."