Central and western NH's secular, inclusive, and fun homeschool co-op

UPDATE: Registration for Session I of Wednesday classes is closed.  But don’t despair, Session II will open for registration in November. Stay tuned!

Starting this year, Gear Up is opening our  space so that facilitators can offer academic oriented classes. The first session includes  Pura Vida Spanish! and Understanding Physics through Experimentation. Both classes begin on Wednesday October 4th, 2017.

The fee for the classes is $55 per student per 6-week session. For insurance purposes, all students attending must also be Gear Up members. Current members may sign up for classes immediately, but new students will need to join ($50 fee per family, need based assistance available) prior to signing up for these Wednesday Classes.

As Gear Up members, you’re also entitled to come to any of our classes held on Friday, game nights on Tuesday, or any other event we sponsor. You can read more about our Friday classes at this link.

All class seats need to be reserved by the deadline, usually two weeks prior to the first class. Payment is expected at the time of reservation to hold your space. Each class may have a separate materials fee listed on the class description (for example: in a science course there are fees for certain materials needed to complete experiments/project or a field trip). If you want to register after the deadline, please contact the instructor directly to see if there is room available.

The expectations for these classes are slightly different than our typical Friday classes and groups. On Fridays we enjoy a laid back enrichment environment with limited commitment to attendance. In these rigorous academic classes, attendance and participation are encouraged.

You can see the descriptions for the classes below. Current members can register following the normal RSVP process, and completing payment online.

Non-members can RSVP by first registering as a member on this page. Note that guest memberships can not register for Wednesday classes.

Pura Vida Spanish! Session 1

Schedule: October 4- November 15 (This is a 6 week session, but class will not meet on November 1st due to a prior commitment. If we need a makeup session for any reason, we will add it on November 29th.)

We will continue our learning with a winter 2018 and spring 2018 session as well.

How many times have you heard people say, “I took two years of Spanish and can’t speak a word!”? The traditional way of teaching foreign language is not necessarily the most effective. See how gestures, action sequences, and skits accelerate the process! I would love to teach your children Spanish in ways that will build real fluency, engage, stimulate, and produce results. Discover the power of storytelling!



This is truly a beginners class. The program does require the ability to focus and listen for an extended period and is likely more effective with basic reading skills. I would recommend grade 3 or 4 and up, but you know your children best. Basic language skills can be acquired, or things can be taken further with more at home practice.


Typical Class Structure:

Each lesson begins with an introduction of the new vocabulary and structures.  Students will see the words as they are listed on the whiteboard, hear their pronunciation, and model a gesture for each word or phrase.  This gesturing, known as Total Physical Response (TPR) is a method developed by linguist, James Asher. Studies in brain functionality and linguistics show that TPR facilitates foreign language acquisition for all age groups by activating various motor cortices of the brain. We will be using stories and skits from the Excelerate SPANISH program.

Throughout this introductory phase, words and structures are combined in novel ways and practiced using gestures.  Whenever possible, previously taught vocabulary is also inserted as review.  By presenting words to students in context rather than in isolation, they’ll quickly develop a “feel” for the patterns and flow of the Spanish language.  An intuitive understanding of the rules of language always precedes formal language study as we learn our first language.

Note that during the initial period, they won’t ever feel pressured to speak. Forcing early production provokes anxiety, which hinders language acquisition.  Instead, they’ll be encouraged to speak as they feel motivated or when they have something to communicate.

Following the introduction of the new vocabulary, students will hear the words and structures again, this time in the context of a series of actions.  Embedding the material in action sequences provides not only additional practice opportunities, but also a rich context aiding the brain as it processes and stores information into memory.  Students will see the entire sequence enacted, then they’ll have the opportunity to use gestures to “act it out” on their own.

In addition, each lesson includes a clever skit or “dramatización” also featuring the lesson themes and vocabulary.  The skits are carefully crafted to surprise the students with funny, zany, or touching story elements.  Tapping into their natural emotional responses to stories does far more than you might expect- it actually turns on the “limbic system,” yet another part of the brain, accelerating you along the road to fluency and improving their retention to boot.


Work at home:

I will provide leveled reading selections in each lesson for independent reading.  These “lecturas” offer students an additional way to engage with the lesson content while continuing to advance towards proficiency.  In keeping with the Excelerate SPANISH philosophy, the “lecturas” aim to delight them with fun and unpredictable story lines, plot twists, and endings. There will also be optional worksheets to practice vocabulary if students wish to take their language learning further at home.

About your instructor:

Heather Jacques got the travel bug early and a summer in Cali, Colombia gifted her with a love of the Spanish language. She then studied a La Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica. She holds a B.S. in education with a double major in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After graduation she taught eighth grade Spanish in Franklin, MA and then seventh grade in Hanover, MA. With the decision to homeschool, Heather has had the ability to explore more creative ways of teaching language and has been privately tutoring homeschoolers for the past 10 years, in addition to running after school elementary programs through New London Rec. and here in Warner.


Understanding Physics through Experimentation, Session I

Schedule: October 4-November 15

Ever wonder why the sky is blue? Or why a baseball travels farther than a wiffle ball when thrown? And do toilet bowls always flush counter-clockwise? These and other puzzling questions will be the subject of this fun, hands-on class.

The goal of this class is to teach basic physics and critical thinking concepts in an approachable, fun, and non-intimidating way. We’ll learn about classical physics by performing an experiment each class, taking data, calculating results and writing up lab reports. There will be work required outside of class.

The skills involved in performing experiments and writing lab reports are important for any student looking to pursue science, or any area that requires critical thinking. And science is just plain fun, isn’t it?


Basic math skills through multiplication and division as well as an understanding of equations. Knowledge of algebra will help, but isn’t required [in truth we’ll be using it but I plan to keep it as simple as possible]. Parents are welcome to assist their children with their lab reports and the calculations.

Typical class structure:


  • 30 minutes concept discussion
  • 1-1.5 hours of hands-on exploration

Work at home:

  • Complete lab report and submit online or at the next class

We’ll be loosely following a high school physics textbook that can supplement the classwork for those looking for more learning opportunities. It’s available as a free download via the GNU Free Documentation License.

In addition, we’ll be using an online system where the students can interact with each other, ask me questions, and submit their work.

After registration, keep an eye on your email for instructions on what to do next in preparation for the class.

Note: This class is the first of three sessions. The equipment fee is only required for the first class you register for in the 2017-2018 school year.

Session I: Motion and energy (Fall 2017)

Session II: Waves and Optics (Winter 2018)

Session III: Electricity and Magnetism (Spring 2018)

About your instructor:

Crystle Pishon has been a science geek all her life. She holds a B.S. and M.S in Physics from the University of New Hampshire. In graduate school, she taught freshman and sophomore Physics labs before joining a research project studying the polarization of cosmic rays.

After graduation she spent 13 years working at a non-profit research think-tank. In 2011, she switched careers to become a writer and home educator.