For more than 10 years, homeschooling for families near the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border has not just happened at home. Thanks to DELTIC Prep, a homeschool co-op, children learn at home Monday-Thursday and then come together on Fridays for an assortment of classes.

Classes that might be tricky to teach alone at home — like cooking, gym, and science labs — are taught as a group, with parents and caregivers leading instruction. For example, a parent who is a chef leads the cooking class, and a parent who is a former high school physics teacher leads the science classes. Parents who don’t lead a class attend a peer support group instead.

This approach has attracted a great deal of interest during the pandemic, said Sandra Authier, one of two program directors, who helps to coordinate the group in addition to homeschooling her four children. “I’ve had people call me nonstop. I’ve had people email me nonstop.”

Typically, DELTIC Prep reaches about 90 children a semester, from newborns to high school seniors. Restrictions on group sizes during the pandemic have limited participation for the time being, but the group continues to meet at a church in northern Rhode Island, just over the Massachusetts border. Families pay $15 per child for a 10-week semester.

With some of its Meet the Moment grant from VELA and its partner, the Home School Legal Defense Association, DELTIC Prep is planning to offer a dissection lab this spring to a dozen high school students. Science lab costs and availability make this kind of opportunity difficult for high school-age children who are home schooled, Authier said.

Another part of the grant will support STEM activities for younger students, including simple machines, a bridge-building kit, and Snap Circuits, which help students learn about circuit boards.

Authier said the co-op benefits students and parents alike, since adults who do not lead a class come together to support each other and work through the challenges of parenting and homeschooling.

“A lot of us are single-income families, and we don’t have the capacity to get a babysitter,” Authier said. “We create all these classes for kids, and while they’re doing that we take turns being in a support group together. That’s what builds the core of our co-op. We’re a community.”

Are you interested in homeschool co-ops? Contact us to see how VELA can help.