If you are starting your homeschool journey or considering homeschooling, you have probably heard of homeschool co-ops. What could a homeschool co-op be? How do they work? Are they a good fit for you and your family? Hopefully, this post can help answer those questions.
What Is A Homeschool Co-op?
A homeschool co-op (or cooperative) is a group of families getting together to help their children with the homeschooling process. It might be a formal organization or a loose collection of families with similar goals.
There are different types of co-ops depending on the families' homeschooling methods. One co-op can serve the purpose of academic fulfilment, which means that parents get together to teach their kids different subjects. They can also opt for hiring a teacher or a certified instructor to teach their children certain subjects. Another type of co-op can serve the purpose of socialization. Families perform the social activities of homeschooling together, such as playing sports, participating in clubs, field trips, play dates, and much more. The other type of homeschooling co-op involves buying educational resources such as curriculums, books, teaching guides, worksheets, and more! There are even virtual homeschool co-ops for students who are learning remotely.
There isn't just one type of homeschooling co-op; it depends on families and what they want to achieve in their homeschooling journey.
Additionally, co-ops meet at different times depending on the timetable set. Some get together once a week, while others every two weeks, and in some other cases, it could be once a month.
Now that we have established what co-ops are, why do parents choose to join co-ops?
Advantages Of Homeschooling Co-ops
Through homeschool co-ops, kids socialize with other kids their own age.
Homeschool co-ops are a great way for your child to meet kids their age, form friendships, and learn some good social skills. Homeschooled children in co-ops have plenty of opportunities to make friends their age and learn how to interact with others. Homeschooling can be isolating at times, so it's important to find ways for them to get out there and mingle.
- Connecting with fellow homeschooling parents
Just as co-ops provide a socialization opportunity for kids, they also help homeschooling parents connect with other homeschooling moms and dads and create a sense of community. They can encourage and support one another, ask questions, or share ideas.
- Introduce kids to working in groups
Homeschool co-ops are a great way for homeschooled kids to learn how to work in groups. These co-ops can help children get used to collaborating with other kids, learning with them and even speaking up in front of them. The skills they pick up while in a co-op can help them succeed in school, college, and beyond.
- Sharing costs
Homeschooling can be expensive, especially when buying supplies and equipment for classes that aren't available at home. But homeschool co-ops are a great way to split the cost of these items between multiple families.
- Teaching specialized subjects
You can also use homeschool co-ops to find tutors for subjects that, as a parent do not know well enough to teach your children. If you don't know how to teach algebra, for example, but would like your child to learn it, a homeschool co-op could connect you with someone who knows how—and is willing to teach at an affordable rate.
- Promote accountability
Homeschool co-ops are a great way to get support and accountability from other people who are learning alongside you. Having another teacher and fellow students looking over your shoulder can motivate you to do better!
The cons of joining homeschool co-ops are also worth exploring.
Disadvantages Of Homeschooling Co-ops
- Co-ops require a lot of time and work
Co-ops are great, but they can also be a lot of work. They require a lot of time and effort to keep running smoothly. You have to participate in some way, whether that means helping out with the cooking or coordinating field trips. Co-ops are for team players—if someone can't contribute, it will be difficult for them to fit in. That's not always easy when you have other responsibilities at home or work.
- You are not in control of the curriculum
One of the main reasons why people choose to homeschool is that they take on an active and present role in their child's education. That means they select a curriculum (or lack of a curriculum) that works best with their kids' needs. However, with a co-op, you leave the teaching to the instructor/teacher of the co-op. It may be challenging since the teacher may put their spin on it. Additionally, the co-op could use a different curriculum to the one you prefer or use at home.
- The financial cost of participation
There is no upfront cost, but the financial cost required for co-op participation can be steep. For example, many co-ops require members to pay annual dues and/or buy a share of the business. In addition, some co-ops charge fees in the form of membership fees or class fees. The amount you'll have to pay varies widely from one co-op to another, so it's vital to research your options before deciding which one is right for you.
- The potential of conflicts arising
One of the disadvantages of joining a co-op is that, like any human organization, conflicts are bound to arise. Even if your co-op only includes friends, you may find that it's hard to make decisions and work together when issues crop up.
Maybe after reading all the pros and cons, you are still unsure about whether or not to join a homeschooling co-op. Here are a few things to consider before joining one.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before Joining A Homeschooling Co-op
- Can my child and I manage the commitment that comes with joining a co-op?
- Can my family afford time from our regular homeschool schedule to attend a co-op?
- Are there classes or extracurricular activities that will benefit my child?
- What can I contribute to the group?
- Can I afford the added costs?
- What curriculum does the co-op use?
- What is the size of the group?
- How are cases of discipline handled?
How To Find A Homeschooling Co-op?
There are several ways of finding co-ops. One way is by searching online through websites or social media. Facebook is an effective tool for finding homeschooling groups and co-ops.
Facebook is a powerful tool if you are looking to connect or find homeschool co-ops.
You can also ask your local librarian if they know of any groups that meet around your area. Lastly, reach out to your friends and neighbours to find out about local co-ops in your area.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether homeschooling co-ops are the right choice for your family. The most important thing is you weigh each option and determine what is best for you, your child, and your family. It's a choice that does not have a simple yes or no response. After all, your child's education is too important for such conventions.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy our other post on why homeschooling is on the rise in the black community.