10 Questions About Homeschool Co-ops

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 | 0 comments

Homeschool Co-opIf you are starting homeschool or just have a few questions about homeschool co-ops, we are hoping to answer them here.

When I started homeschooling I wondered, what is a homeschool co-op and more importantly, should I join one? Do I need one?

A homeschool co-op is generally a group of home educators joining together and cooperating on teaching different subjects.  For instance, one mom might handle science experiments while another mom handles history. A group of moms work together and join forces to help with the load of teaching.

10 Questions About Homeschool Co-Ops

1.What is the difference between a homeschool co-op and a homeschool group? The purpose of a homeschool co-op is to cover specific school subjects. Science, history, literature, art, drama, speech, debate, etc. Homeschool groups are a bunch of homeschool families who get together for the sole purpose of socialization and field trips. One mom might arrange the field trips but there is no real learning time, projects, or activities accomplished. It is a social group.

2. How often do Homeschool Co-Ops meet? Usually, weekly. Most co-ops have a designated day to meet each week with a planned assignment / goal.

Are Homeschool Co-Ops free? Typically, no. Most co-ops have a “joining fee” or charge for supplies, etc.

4. Do Homeschool Co-Op subjects count toward core education? YES! Whatever project or activity you work on keep it. Incorporate it into your portfolio or online grading reports. Keep in mind you are not “covered” by the co-op. {it is not an umbrella school, private school, etc.}

5. What is the benefit of a Homeschool Co-Op, really? Homeschool children have the opportunity to work with others, learn in a group setting, experience different teachers & teaching styles. Some moms have degrees in specific fields and overly love the opportunity to teach that subject again.

6. Do I “have to” join a homeschool co-op? Absolutely not. However, they are a great benefit if you need help teaching a specific subject {I know nothing about art} or if you have a desire to teach a subject to a group of children! Science experiments are always fun in a group – a homeschool co-op is perfect for that.

7. How do I find a homeschool co-op? You can check with the local church, meetup.com, yahoo groups, or a google search: “your town name homeschool co-op”. Be sure to keep an eye out at your local homeschool curriculum fair or convention for co-ops. Always ask other homeschool moms. Do not be afraid to ask for a contact name and email.

8. Should I start a homeschool co-op? Maybe. First pray then see if there is a need – besides your own. Keep in mind a co-op is a cooperative. You can not do it alone. I believe a group of 3 homeschool moms (or dads) can do something great. Ecclesiastes 4:12, a thread of three strands is not easily broken. Consider a convenient location, supply costs, and who will help teach what.

9. Is there a downside to being in a homeschool co-op? Besides the obvious: leaving the house for a full day, preparing lessons / teaching other students, being close with other women who raise their children differently, etc. If you look for the negative you will find it in any situation. I believe the more involved you are the less time & desire you have to find wrongs.

10. What questions should I ask a director or leader of the local homeschool co-op? Always ask questions before joining!
* is this a religious co-op or secular? this might matter to you during a science lesson.
* how many subjects / what activities are taught each week? make sure you’re joining the right age range & grades before giving your first grader a debate class.
* how much does the co-op cost? surprise fees are no fun for anyone.
* how can I help? be prepared to offer your skills and talents. co-ops are not drop off dates. find a mommy’s day out instead of a co-op.

You might not want to start your own co-op, but would rather teach one class in your own home. Go for it! I had a blast teaching Apologia science in my kitchen one year. Five friends sat around the table every Tuesday morning ready for hands-on science fun. Again, consider the cost of supplies and do not be afraid to charge before the class starts!

Maybe you have a potter’s wheel, a love for history, or desire to start a running club.  I believe there are so many homeschool moms with talents and gifts being untapped. Help the homeschool community and start something or offer your time to a local co-op.

Stef Layton
Stef Layton started homeschooling in 2008. Her heart is set on intentional parenting and building strong family relationships. She is a columnist for Homeschooling Today Magazine.

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