What is MAHC all about?
The co-op was formed by a group of local homeschooling families to create a place where homeschooled children can gather to learn, play, and socialize.
What is the mission of the co-op?
The Mt. Airy Homeschooling Co-op consists of homeschooling and unschooling families from the Philadelphia area working together to provide a gathering place for our children to engage in learning and social opportunities. Our mission is to provide a quality, secular, and inclusive environment in which children are nurtured while engaging in classes and activities in a climate of mutual respect.
Where is MAHC located?
The co-op meets at the Unitarian Society of Germantown in Mt. Airy. There are several classrooms, a large hall, a kitchen, and a dining room, as well as beautiful outdoor space.
Who teaches classes at the co-op?
Most classes are taught by the parents of the co-op children. We hire teachers from outside the membership when there’s a great interest or a great opportunity to explore a certain subject.
What kinds of classes have been offered at the MAHC?
Trash to Fashion, Beginning German, Bake Sale for Charity, American Sign Language, Digital Video Story Slam, Puppetry, Cell Biology, Dungeons & Dragons, Linocut, Debate Club, Embroidery, How to Build a Trebuchet, Lost Civilizations of Africa, Cooking with Chocolate, NaNoWriMo, Learn to Code, Japanese Culture through Anime/Manga. Do you want more? See the cumulative class list (PDF) to get an even greater sense of the breadth of classes the co-op has run.
How many families participate in the co-op?
We have had between seventeen and thirty families. The children range in age from one to eighteen years old. Children must be 6 to enroll in co-op classes, but parents with younger siblings sometimes organize special nursery or nature activities.
Do the classes have to be academic?
No, not at all. We have many exciting classes: improvisation, film study, strategy games, fall fun activities, cooking and baking, manners and civility, sign language, investment and money, art and history, just to name a few. Any area where you have an interest or willingness to learn is most welcome as a course offering.
Are all of the classes be held at this site?
Most classes are held at the co-op with an occasional field trip. However, there are a few classes and activities that have been offered off-site. These have included a music history class offered in the evening at a co-op parent’s home and a community gardening project in Mt. Airy in partnership with 4-H.
Are there any opportunities for social and recreational events outside of co-op hours?
The co-op holds regular socials during the year. Past events have included bowling trips, talent shows, movie nights, pot luck suppers. There is also an annual camping trip in late June at Hickory Run State Park. Bring your ideas and enthusiasm as the co-op is very much a creation of the families currently enrolled, and everyone is welcome to arrange events.
How much parental participation is expected at MAHC?
This is a parent-founded and run co-op. Parent participation is essential to the success of the co-op. It is expected that you will be available to your child throughout the co-op day. Each semester, there will be a number of work hours during the co-op day required from each family. On occasion, because we are parent-operated, an emergency need arises to cover a class or break. It is expected that the membership will rise to the occasion and offer extra help. Finally, all members participate in the business of the co-op, so we meet as needed on- and off-site to plan and run the everyday operations.
How is the class schedule structured?
MAHC has three trimesters: Fall, Winter, and Spring. There are typically ten or twelve weeks in each trimester. Each trimester is broken down into two equal sessions of 5 or 6 weeks. Co-op members must join for the entire trimester. The class offerings will change in each session of each trimester. Some classes have been offered for the entire trimester, and some have run for more than one trimester. Some classes are offered for mixed ages and others are age specific. We strive to offer at least two options per child per period every session.
I don’t think I can teach a class for 5 or 6 weeks – are there any other alternatives?
Yes, there are non-teaching jobs: co-op parents help with the lunch break and afternoon break, monitor the halls, help set up and clean up. However, in order to make the co-op run we need the energy, gifts and creativity of all of our members. So please consider sharing any areas of interest.
What do I do if I cannot teach my class or float due to an emergency?
The first step is to contact the parents of the children in your class to see if one of them can cover. If you cannot find anyone to cover, there is a sub on call, but teachers and non-teachers are asked to find coverage within the community first. The sub should really be used in last-minute or emergency situations. If it’s not possible to get coverage for the class, you must notify the parents that the class is canceled.
If you cannot float, please refer to the shared folder in the Google Drive. It contains a database for other people whom may be able to trade times with you. If that does not work, post the need to the Group. It is your responsibility to find someone to cover for your time.
How many hours during the co-op day are required from each family? How is the hours requirement fulfilled?
The number of hours required by each family depends on the number of families participating in that semester. In the past the hours to directly run the co-op day have varied from 12 to 20 per 10 to 12 week semester. It is expected that this will be the average range.
In addition to the Tuesday hours, please allow for additional hours on your committee or service as a board member. You can fulfill your co-op day (Tuesday) hours requirement by teaching a class, working in the nursery, being a floater or lunch/break helper. You can choose to teach for one session (five or six weeks) or both sessions. Non-teaching jobs are available in a variety of increments. Some jobs include overseeing lunch (one hour), break and dismissal (one half hour each), and acting as floater (two 3-hour shifts each week).
The co-op is exploring alternative membership options, including part-time and drop-off (non-working) memberships. Please contact us for details on the alternative options available.
Do I need to join a committee?
Yes, every family is expected to have an active adult member on one of the standing committees.
What is the day like for children at the MAHC?
Our day starts at 9:30 with all parents escorting their children into the building and signing in at the floater station. There are baskets labeled with each family’s name in the main hall. Parents collect their family’s basket so their children can place their belongings there in the morning and throughout the day.
The first class starts at 10:00 and ends at 11:15. Children gather in the dining room for lunch and then have some time to play (outside, weather permitting) before the second class starts at 12:15. This class ends at 1:30 when the children have a half hour of free time. They can have a snack, play outside (weather permitting) and hang out with their friends. The last class of the day starts at 2:00 and ends at 3:15.
Our day is officially over at 3:30 when parents empty their family’s basket and sign their children out of the co-op.
What does my child need to bring each week?
Your child should bring any supplies required for class, a lunch (and snack, if desired) and a water bottle. We have found that the children tend to get thirsty during the day and the building does not have water fountains.
I’d like some ideas of classes that the co-op is interested in running. Is there a list?
Yes. Parents and children have an ongoing conversation about the classes they would like to have available. Recent requests include: robotics, writing, math, Spanish, drama, chemistry, cooking, baking, handwork, music, animation, cartooning, aviation, photography, debate, field trips around Philadelphia, spelling bee, literature response group, yoga, world cultures and religion. These are just a sampling of the class suggestions that kids and parents are interested in seeing offered at the co-op.
How do members communicate with each other?
Our mode of communication for the business of the co-op is Google Groups. Many important notices are posted to the list. We also use a shared folder on Google Drive to post schedules, policies, paperwork, etc. There is a directory in the Drive listing each members contact information for direct communication. New members will receive an invite to join our Google Group at the time of registration.
Are there any other fees associated with the co-op?
Some classes carry a supply fee (generally $2 to $15 per child) that is determined by and paid directly to the teacher. Many classes carry no fee. Some of our social outings are free and some have a fee associated with the activity.
How do children register for classes?
Once the class schedule is filled and final payment is made, children are asked to choose the classes they are interested in attending. They are also given the opportunity to choose a “priority” class that they are most interested in for that trimester. We then try to accommodate all requests. If too many children request a class, we hold a lottery for the available class positions. There is occasionally a class that is so popular that some children do not get in. We ask teachers of those classes to consider offering the class again in the next semester or following year.
Do you have a policy manual?
Yes, we do have a membership handbook. You can view (Google Docs)it to learn more about our operations and policies.
What opportunities are there for members to attend board and general membership meetings?
Board meetings are held several times a year, and are open meetings with the exception of discussions of a personal nature. Twice yearly, we convene meetings of the general membership where old and new business is discussed. These meetings also serve as a social function for all of our members.