MIDLAND, Tx. (KOSA) The West Texas Homeschool Co-Op held its high school graduation on Tuesday. The Midland-based co-op is seeing a steady increase in the amount of families and students enrolling in classes.
Homeschool co-ops offer various classes that students can attend every semester. Co-ops work much like a college. A student will sign up and attend class once or multiple times a week for a specific number of hours, and can be assigned homework to complete.
The West Texas Homeschool Co-op was founded in 2015 by Libby Landry after she moved to Midland and discovered that the options she was used to, like classes and field trips, were somewhat limited.
The co-op started out with several families renting two rooms for classes. After transitioning to a bigger location, it now serves more than 100 students in 70 families, according to Landry.
“Then we moved to the facility that we’re in now. We’ve done two progressions of space there. The first we had about 10 classrooms and now we have more than a dozen. And every time we get more space, we fill up! We are not restricted by anything than the size of the space that we have,” Landry said.
Landry said many families come from local school districts, and some families recently moved to West Texas.
“We do have a number of families that find that homeschooling is a better fit for them than some of the public education sectors,” she said.
The co-op offers around 24 classes on Tuesdays at Midland Bible Church. Other classes are held later in the week at Sibley Nature Center and local parks. On Thursdays, the co-op learns with community partners, such as Museum of the Southwest, the Petroleum Museum and the George W. Bush childhood home.
One class meets at Sibley Nature Center on Wednesdays to learn about planting and design.
“Being part of a homeschool community is really that. It’s not an isolated lifestyle that you sit alone and you’re at a kitchen table. Homeschooling is about really being able to be a part of the larger community as well as just your family,” she said.
The co-op classes are hands on, encouraging students to learn new things and discover their passions.
Landry’s 11-year-old daughter, Gilly, explained how the classes help her find new interests.
“I might want to grow up and be a gardener, so I might do gardening. I can freely take classes,” she said.
Libby Landry said the co-op offers classes like book club, journaling, Lego competition and gavel club, just to name a few.
The homeschooling mother explained why the co-op doesn’t focus on offering core curriculum classes.
“We do a few of those, but we want the families to choose the way that they approach the core curriculum in the home. Because we understand that all children learn differently and at their own pace. And families, one of the freedoms in homeschooling is deciding how you want to implement that in your own home. So we really are more of a support system with more fun and engaging classes that might peak an interest or spark some curiosity that you can follow up with more in your own home,” she said.
What is learned at home and co-op is implemented in the community, Landry said.
At Sibley Nature Center, the students designed a butterfly garden over one eight- week term in 2016. Contractors laid down the hardscapes in the winter. Students designed the layout of the garden in the spring, and decided which types of rocks should be used and herbs and flowers planted. The students installed drip irrigation and landscaping.
A bridge and pergola were also designed by the students.
“That was something the kids really had a long discussion about. What would they be built out of, what would the tops look like, would there be seating underneath and what would be the materials used,” she said.
Landry’s daughter explained her contribution to the project.
“I helped design that butterfly- shaped rock pit. It has Fennel in the planters over there. Butterflies really do like to lay their eggs on the Fennel. And for the head, we used a stone and we let water collect in there so the butterflies can drink from the water,” she said.
Landry also highlighted the community service many homeschool students participate in year- round.
“We participate in the Keep Midland Beautiful program every year. We do things, like I said, with the George W. Bush Childhood Home and giving back to the community through service time. We also donate articles of clothing and personal hygiene products around the holidays to organizations in the area,” Landry said.
For more information about homeschooling in the Permian Basin, visit the West Texas Homeschool Co-op website at the following link: https://www.wthscoop.org