Remember when I posted about homeschool marching band, football, and choir? I want to share with you another event our kids have participated in through our local homeschool community: a cotillion.

First, let me address why your kids could benefit from a cotillion. Table manners and etiquette are something to which every child should be exposed. I don’t know about you, but dinner at our house isn’t a very formal affair. We usually use only the utensils that are necessary for that meal and don’t spend a lot of time discussing the proper way to set a table or which fork to use.

This fall was the second time our co-op has held a cotillion. We have a 10-week session of classes, with the cotillion on the final week. The kids in grades 2-8 rotate through a 4-class, 45-minutes per class schedule: etiquette (separated by boys and girls; dads taught the boys’ classes); ballroom dance; sign language; and biology. Obviously biology didn’t tie in to the final week’s cotillion, but the kids did perform songs they’d learned with sign language.

The high school kids studied economics this semester, but joined us for ballroom dance the final 15 minutes of each week (I was a teacher in that class). They also participated in the etiquette classes.

In etiquette, the kids also practiced things like the proper way to slice a tomato or butter bread. Three of the moms coordinated skits, too, which were often hilarious.

Families arrive about 30 minutes early for set up on the day of the cotillion. The kids arrange their own place settings, practicing the skills they’ve learned. The event itself lasts for about three hours and includes a five-course meal—meatballs; salad and bread; Ramen noodle soup; lasagna; and cheesecake—dancing (the Grand March; the foxtrot; and yes, even the bunny hop), and singing and performing the songs learned in sign language. One of the highlights is a period of toasting when the kids raise their ginger ale and toast their teachers, best friends, or whatever else they choose.

The kids were paired into couples ahead of time based on height and age. Another photographer and I took pictures of each couple as they were announced at the top of the stairs. The event was held at the local church that has hosted our co-op classes for years. There was a per-child fee used to purchase the food from a local wholesale club, and we rented the dishes and silverware from a party rental company. Moms dressed in black pants and white shirts while inwardly chanting “serve from the left, clear from the right!”

I would like to encourage you that this is a doable event for a homeschool co-op. This is the second time ours has done it. Here are some photos from the day:










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