Homeschool co-ops are a great socialization tool used to simulate the benefits of a traditional “school” setting.
Just a Disclaimer: I am not a teacher by trade, nor do I claim to be. The following are just ideas and tips that were useful for our family and that other mamas might enjoy, as well. If you are curious as to why we decided to homeschool our kids, you can read about it here.
WHAT IS A HOMESCHOOL CO-OP?
A homeschool co-op is a group of parents, who meet regularly, in order to give homeschoolers the experience of learning with peers. Co-ops provide a more well-rounded, homeschooling experience. While in theory co-ops are great, how do you know if they fit with your homeschool classroom?
WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN A HOMESCHOOL CO-OP?
YOUR CHILD WILL FORM CLOSER RELATIONSHIPS
A co-op provides a way for homeschooled children to socialize with peers. Because your child regularly engages with the same group of children, they will form closer friendships.
YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY “LIKE-MINDED” INDIVIDUALS
Co-ops are great for parents, as well, because you are surrounded with others who share your educational philosophies. Parents can sometimes feel alone, so a group of homeschooling friends is a must. Members can bounce ideas off of each other, talk about what works or doesn’t and create a better homeschooling experience for everyone.
YOUR CHILD CAN EXPLORE NEW AREAS OF INTEREST
Co-ops may have specialized courses to help enrich your child’s studies. If your child has a certain area of interest, they can take a course within the co-op.
YOU CAN PUT YOUR OWN TALENTS TO GOOD USE
Do you have an area of expertise? Maybe you can teach a class within the co-op. The beauty of a co-op is that children are awarded the opportunity for a unique learning experience.
MEMBERS SHARE A SIMILAR TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
Usually, homeschool co-ops are distinguished by a set of values or beliefs. For example, there are religious co-ops. Also, there are co-ops that follow particular teaching styles, such as unschooling. Whatever your preference, there is probably a co-op to meet your educational needs.
WHAT ARE THE CONS OF JOINING A CO-OP?
Like with everything, there are cons to joining a homeschool co-op. While they are a great way broaden your child’s education, they come with certain considerations.
THERE IS A TIME COMMITMENT
Co-ops come with a time commitment, both in bringing children to meetings, as well as involvement within the group. The idea behind a co-op is that parents pool together their talents and resources to help enrich the education of everyone involved.
THERE IS A COST
For most co-ops, there is usually a membership fee. Courses may also require additional fees. Families with multiple children may feel financially constrained by the obligations of a co-op.
CHILDCARE FOR YOUNGER SIBINGS
If you have children not yet able to participate, will childcare be provided? Before joining a co-op, make sure you make arrangements for younger children, allowing you to participate without worry.
Although there are pros and cons to weigh, a co-op can be a positive addition to your homeschooling curriculum. Every co-op is different and has its own set of rules, requirements and level of commitment. There are so many co-ops around, and you are sure to find something that fits your lifestyle.
A homeschool co-op will provide a change of environment for your child and help improve their academic experience. Your child will interact with peers, while experiencing somewhat of a “traditional” school environment. Basically, the best of both worlds.