Co-op offers more home-school classes

Adam Larck
Angela Beddingfield teaches students about lines and curves during the fine arts class at the first meeting of the home-school co-op at Cedar Hill Baptist Church.

The Peoria area has had a few home-school co-op groups, but none had ever been around Dunlap.

Now, thanks to Jill Webster, Emily Sharkey and Angela Beddingfield, Dunlap has a home-school co-op of their own at Cedar Hills Baptist Church.

“I had started a co-op where we lived in Chicago,” Beddingfield said. “When I came here and looked for a co-op, there were a lot of co-ops for younger kids, it seemed, or further away. I was looking for one that offered a couple of higher level classes like general science and the constitution class. But, the ones that I knew of were further away. So, I thought I would start one at the north end of town.”

Home-school co-ops give parents who choose to teach their children an opportunity to let their children meet other home-schooled children and get taught by parents in certain subjects.

Webster said that she and Beddingfield had an idea to start a co-op in the community so that their children could get together with others and “just open that up to the community.”

Currently, the three parents are teaching four subjects between them. Beddingfield teaches general science to seventh-12th graders in the morning, and fine arts to first-sixth graders in the afternoon.

“We offer art, and that’s a class that it’s hard to get in a home-school setting,” Beddingfield said. “It’s not an arts and craft arts class, it’s art. Today (Sept. 7), we started out studying straight and curved lines, and we’ll go into shapes and shading and such.”

The general science class has students performing various science experiments.

Meanwhile, Sharkey, who has a bachelor’s in zoology, teaches zoology to the younger grades in the morning, while Webster teaches constitution to the older grades in the afternoon.

The parents choose to offer a constitution class because of graduation guidelines the state of Illinois has.

During the first day of the co-op, the lower grades had 19 students participate, while 14 students signed up for seventh-12 grade.

“I think it went pretty well,” Webster said. “I was really encouraged. There were a lot of people here. I really didn’t know if it would be our kids and that was it, but I was really surprised with all the different kids that came. Some of the parents stayed, some just dropped their kids off. There’s a level of trust I think that’s important. It puts a good name out there for our church.”

Beddingfield agreed, saying that there was an “overwhelming response” for the co-op.

The co-op started on Sept. 7, and will run through the first or second week in December.

Instead of running for a full year, the group has decided to break the co-op down into semesters, with the second semester starting in January.

“The general science will probably continue on through the whole year because it’s such a large subject, but others we’ll probably move on to another subject or two,” Beddingfield said. “We’ll just have to see what people like.”