Mesa parents form neighborhood co-op to help kids with online learning

Jul 30, 2020, 4:35 AM
(Public Domain Photo)...
(Public Domain Photo)
(Public Domain Photo)

While many parents in Arizona are still trying to figure out what online learning will look like for their children when the new school year begins, a group of parents in the East Valley are banding together to help each other.

They’ve created a co-op so working parents can drop off their kids at a neighbor’s house where they’ll join other kids and do their online school work together.

Natalie Rizzo, a mother of two elementary school students, created the Eastmark Educational Home Care Co-Op in Mesa. She referred to it as an alternative to daycare for working parents that’s solely focused on school-age children.

“How I foresee the day happening is at 8 o’clock, we all gather around the table,” she said. “Everybody breaks out their tech device and we’ll log on and get going with the day.”

Rizzo said students will be taking breaks throughout the day to do extracurricular activities, such as play sports outside or do art projects, so there will be opportunities for them to socialize.

“And I think, from a social aspect too, they’re going to want to mimic their neighbor sitting next to them and how they’re working on their school work,” she added.

So far, five parents have signed up to be hosts. The idea is to keep the groups small, so each parent will host up to four kids, in addition to their own kids.

Host parents will follow a series of steps to protect kids against the spread of COVID-19. Those steps include temperature checks, frequent handwashing and regular cleanings.

They’ll charge $5 per hour, per child.

“One thing that we are requesting of all the parents is that any communication from the teachers that they receive around, maybe, what the week looks like ahead or their assignment plans, those are to be forwarded to us,” Rizzo said. “Then we can review and make sure that we hit the ground running the next day on their school work.”

Rizzo said the idea for the co-op came in part from what she and other parents experienced toward the end of the last school year. She recalled that toward the last few weeks of school, it was “really, really challenging” to motivate her daughters, ages 7 and 8, to do their school work online.

“I felt like my kids were just kind of coasting by, and they weren’t thriving,” she said.

Wanting to avoid the same experience this upcoming school year, she put out the idea for the co-op in her neighborhood’s Facebook page several weeks ago.

“The response I got from the neighborhood was overwhelming,” she said. “I had dozens upon dozens of neighbors reach out, wanting more information.”

Rizzo said many of them shared her view of wanting to find a safe environment that would give their kids the social interaction they have been missing while also staying focused on helping them complete their school work.

“It’s really about the kids and just making this challenging time as fruitful as it can possibly be for them,” she said.

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Mesa parents form neighborhood co-op to help kids with online learning