Homeschooling is becoming more popular today and homeschoolers are creating ways on how to get together with other homeschooling families. One of the ways to do this is by joining a homeschooling co-op.
What is a homeschool co-op? A homeschool co-op or cooperative is a group of families who meet together regularly to teach the children. They are able to share the education of their children to one another. It is a way for homeschooling families to give hand and support one another.
Part of a homeschool co-op are activities led by parents. It can be organized around academics, social time, arts and crafts, or projects. There can be as few as three families in a co-op but there are also large ones which include about a hundred children. Some co-ops meet weekly and some monthly depending on the organizers.
Less formal co-ops are mostly led by a leader or two who are responsible for forming a certain vision which will support the goals for their children. They plan meetings, as well as locations and schedules. More formal co-ops or larger ones have a board of directors as well as an administrator to take care of the operations. The decisions of large co-ops are also based on the votes of the directors, which often times are the parents of the children participating. Some co-ops can also be ministries of churches, therefore, making it under a church’s administration.
Homeschool Groups vs. Homeschool Co-Ops
Some might think that homeschool groups are the same with homeschool co-ops but they are different. Local homeschool groups are often larger and have a more general purpose than homeschool co-ops. They can also have field trips, book clubs, and parties. Homeschool groups may have their official co-ops which can be one of their activities.
There is also a small version of a homeschool co-op which is sometimes called a club. These clubs are typically arranged per activity or subject area such as geography clubs and nature clubs.
Benefits of Joining a Co-Op
- Group learning: Through a co-op, your children will be able to learn how to work together as a team. They will be able to know how to help one another in finishing a certain project or achieving a goal.
- Sharing ideas: Both parents and children will be able to share their ideas and expertise.
- Sharing resources: One important thing in homeschooling is having plenty of resources. In a homeschool co-op, children and parents can share materials such as books, toys, and other resources.
- Fewer expenses: Since you’re in a group in a homeschool co-op, you can often get discounts on some activities and museums. You can also share the expenses in purchasing materials.
- Support: Homeschooling can be lonely at times but being in a co-op can give support to both parents and children. Friendships can also be built in co-ops.
- Socialization: Homeschooling co-op is also a way for children to learn from other children and other adults as well. It can be fun for them especially when having activities.
Disadvantages of Joining a Co-Op
Homeschool co-ops are beneficial to most homeschooling families, however, there are also some disadvantages in joining one.
- Time commitment: Joining a co-op can also be difficult especially when you and your children have a lot of activities in the plan. It can be hard to find time to participate in meetings and other projects with the co-op.
- Availability: It’s also not easy to find homeschool co-ops to join in because co-ops often do not accept new members when their operations are becoming successful. But you can start your own co-op if you want.
- Exposure of children to new ideas: Though this might sound like a good thing, your children might not match with the co-op environment. For example, you do not let your children use gadgets such as cellphones but when they meet other children in the co-op, they’ll discover that some of them already have their own gadgets.
- Additional cost: Co-ops can help you save money because you can cut the cost with one another, but it can be an additional expense, too. It’s because there are certain activities that are not necessary but since it’s been planned, you need to spend money on it.
Finding or Starting a Homeschool Co-Op
If you’re interested to join or maybe built your own homeschool co-op, you can start with the internet. There are lots of homeschool co-ops you can find online especially on social media platforms and in some blogs as well. If you want to start your own homeschool co-op, using social media can be a good start. It can help you find like-minded parents who might be interested to join. You also try creating a master list of ideas which you can share with them.
Homeschool co-op is one of the great unconventional education methods. It can help children, as well as parents, to discover different ways of learning in a more fun environment.