Read these 10 Choosing the Right Group Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Home School tips and hundreds of other topics.
There is an important thing to remember about joining a co-op: New members can and will join at any given time. An important life lesson you may have to teach your children is learning to work peacefully with a new member that you initially find hard to get along with.
Let's imagine that you have joined a co-op and built many new and valuable relationships. In fact, the entire co-op has proven to be one of the smartest things you have modified since you began homeschooling. Then one day, you are introduced to a new member. Immediately you realize that the two of you have absolutely nothing in common beyond the shared homeschool goals.
Your teaching style is laid back, allowing your children to guide the direction of the learning process, while the other women is structured, textbook-oriented, and prefers teacher-directed lesson planning -- and she's trying to impose these mindsets upon the entire co-op. At this point you have two choices: you can continually dispute the new member's teaching style, fight her suggestions and provide a negative role modeling for your children. After spending so much time trying to teach positive character traits to your children, your negative behavior will immediately contradict and discredit all of your teaching efforts.
The other, more productive choice would be to observe this new member of your co-op and share your own strengths and motivations for your teaching style. The unique and real life training that both you and your children will share as you successfully conquer this personal challenge will be a lesson in good will and respect that will last a lifetime.
One of the values of a homeschool group is the exposure your children will enjoy as they interact and learn with other parents and members of the group. If you find that you have joined a working co-op in which parents actively exchange the teaching role with one another, each utilizing their own personal strengths and skills, your child will benefit from many different teaching styles as they process and grow academically.
If you are a single mother, joining a co-op with fathers that actively get involved with the student learning objectives can provide a positive role model for your children. Co-ops can be fundamental to the success of many homeschool programs as they provide a meeting ground for like minds to share and explore new concepts and ideas.
For parents as teachers, co-ops offer an opportunity to brainstorm about thematic curriculum unit, as they get to work together to offer educational opportunities that are outside the general academic box. With parents working as a team combining their individual skills and sharing in the creation of educational objectives, goals and measurements for success, the overall efforts of the co-op create an environment similar to an extended family.
As everyone works together, each member becomes invested in the positive results. This type of co-op encourages parents to create a curriculum that is blended not only with purchased materials but the individual skills of the parents. The combination of creativity, structured learning materials and the personal involvement by both the teachers and the students is an environment filled with enthusiasm and dedication to success.
The most valuable aspect of a homeschool co-op, support group or club is undoubtedly the socialization opportunities. Finding a homeschool group that has members within the same age group as you and your children is key to enjoying a successful social life combined with your academic goals.
If you are a mother of a toddler that is planning to homeschool, it would be a great idea to join a "Mommy & Me" program that is affiliated with your church or a church that supports your religious convictions. This type of format is often a religious-based program that offers fellowship and crafts to moms while the children learn and play in a supervised nursery or game room. As you grow in your friendships with the women of the group, it is quite often that these same mothers will be contemplating their own academic goals for their young children. As your children grow, so might the relationships of both mother and child.
Thus the transition from a weekly Mommy & Me to a homeschool curriculum co-op would be an easy and successful one. If you begin your planning at the initial stages of your homeschool program, it might be possible to purchase a combined curriculum that everyone in the group could benefit from at home and at your co-op location. Starting a co-op from the group roots can be intimidating but there are many different resources to assist with such an effort. Sunlight Curriculum® is a wonderful Christian homeschool curriculum that specializes in literature-based programs. This curriculum uses a wide variety of popular children's literature to explore our world.
As you begin to investigate the different homeschool support groups within your area, keep in mind that these people will undoubtedly become close friends and confidants as you journey on the path of homeschooling. The members of your homeschool support group may also become the social outlet for you and your family sharing in field trips, play dates, visits to the zoo, birthday parties and other social functions.
It is often ideal for a first time homeschool family to seek out an inclusive support group that welcomes everyone without concern of religious conviction, teaching methodology or other strict guidelines. Finding an inclusive support group that is a comfortable “fit” for you and your family will offer experienced mentors, friendship, guidance and a social meeting place for families who share a similar interest in providing their children a quality homeschool education.
As you seek out a support group for you and your family, it is almost guaranteed that you and your children will develop long-lasting friendships with your newfound friends.
As a parent new to homeschool programs, the question and decision regarding joining a support group is going to be a very personal one. While joining a homeschool support group is not a requirement of every homeschooling program many experienced homeschool parents will strongly support that you do so.
The first year of homeschool implementation will be full of academic highs and lows; having a support group will provide a sounding board of experience, understanding and empathy. If you are struggling with the idea of committing to a support group, a thorough investigation of your various group options will help to resolve your internal conflict and provide a solution to your confusion. There are many different types of support groups, but it is best to find one that fits your family from the very beginning.
The most common support groups are Christian-based. These groups will often have very specific rules, guidelines and expectations for their members. It is best to evaluate the group dynamics by attending a meeting and observing how parents and children interact with one another. This should be an environment in which you believe you would be comfortable talking about successes and failures.
As you discuss membership with members of the support group, remember to inquire as to any restrictive teaching practices. Many support groups have restrictive teaching methodology requirements, allowing only specific teaching styles to join, such as the structured learning program, the teacher-led classroom and unschooling. It is important to know exactly where you fit in within the social structure of the group before you join.
As you narrow your search for the right group for your family to join, remember that the home-school co-op you choose will become a social outlet for your family. In discussions with both parents and students, pay close attention to personalities. Ask yourself if there are any individuals that you might view as lifelong friends. Your decision to home-school is a long-term commitment; the co-op that you join will be an active part of that commitment. Therefore, it is important to join a group with members you can be friendly with for many years.
These co-op members will provide the academic and social opportunities for you and your children. It is often a good idea to inquire about life experience, life goals, academic goals and personal future goals. If religion is a basic value that you are using to determine your final co-op decision, it is a good idea to discuss religious beliefs and objectives with the members to make sure that you all share common beliefs and ideals. Personal values and morals are also a strong indicator for family homeschool co-ops, visiting these topics might be difficult but could make a large difference in your final membership determination. Don't be afraid to ask the difficult questions, as you don't want to spend a lot of time jumping from co-op to co-op when you could have found the proper group the first time.
Parents that undertake a homeschool program have an educational goal in mind for their children. It is the children that motivate the decision to leave an occupation and begin school again, through the homeschool curriculum. As you begin to seek out a homeschool program, it is important to determine whether your educational objective is a teacher-centered or student-centered environment.
Many families begin homeschooling because they are interested in supporting their child's personal academic growth through their own unique perspective and interests. In this case, the curriculum used in the homeschool classroom would be student-centered -- an academic program that is led by the student and scaffolded by the teacher. This is an environment that encourages free exploration, curiosity, independent thinking and personal growth. It is a classroom in which the teacher does not do tasks in which the student is capable of doing.
The child-centered curriculum is built upon supporting the independent thinking of the learner, often called “unschooling.” In the student-centered learning programs, the teacher becomes a co-learner if the child's interest extends beyond the teacher/parent's own knowledge. A child benefits from observing his or her teacher/parent involved in the learning process, as this proves that life provides an ongoing education for everyone.
In the teacher-centered or teacher-directed classroom, the teacher has an established curriculum that must be followed in order to meet standardized benchmarks for each learner. The pace is continuous and does not slow down for those that fall behind. If a student asks a question that is not in line with the current academic goals, the question is dismissed politely and the educational topic continues on track. There are many that prefer this type of educational environment for their children, but most homeschool parents do not want to participate in a teacher-directed learning environment. As you preview and visit different co-ops, make sure to identify which teaching style is used in the classroom.
Once you have narrowed your search down to two or three possible homeschool co-ops that match your personal goals, it is time to meet with each co-op director to establish the educational format, goals and requirements for membership. Get as many detailed program descriptions in writing, as these documents will insure that you have a strong grasp on the co-ops educational policies and procedures.
The goal in the final meeting is to gather as many details as possible to assist in making a final determination on membership. Gathering documents from each co-op that you visit will assist you when you are comparing and contrasting each facility at home. If at all possible, include a meeting with the parents and students to discuss their feelings on membership within the co-op. These meetings are best if all family members attend; the questions you consider important will be vastly different from those that your teen may ask.
Another tool that is crucial when choosing a co-op is the definition used by the co-op members to define success. This measuring tool is really something that is a personal match for each individual family member; however, the definitions should be broad enough to accommodate the different ages of the co-op members. Choosing a homeschool co-op is a family decision, and as such, it is important to make sure that the final decision is a good fit for everyone within your home. It is important to remember that homeschool is not just an academic commitment but a lifestyle for the whole family. A group that works successfully for you may be an awful environment for your child; the final decision should be based upon an environment that will provide positive social and educational opportunities for everyone in your family.
There are many different homeschool groups that are established for the adults only. These homeschool groups can be Christian based or can be open to anyone that is currently actively homeschooling their children. Many of the adult-focused homeschool groups are designed to be educational in nature, providing lectures, seminars, workshops and classes specifically focused for the primary and secondary parent in a homeschool house.
If you are currently looking for a homeschool group that will provide a social outlet for everyone in your family, this is not the right group for your current needs. However, it is a good idea to consider joining a group like this for the educational benefits that are available to each of the parents in a homeschool environment. As the family grows into the homeschool curriculum and daily operations, there will be good and bad days; this is a fact of life.
Belonging to an academic co-op or homeschool group designed specifically for the struggling or accomplished homeschool parent provides resources, mentors, support and guidance for those in need and the opportunity for those that are successful to share their success stories and help others “see the light at the end of the tunnel.” While this group is not intended to fulfill the needs of the entire family, there is nothing that states relationships built in the group cannot extend into family sharing as a larger group outside of these meetings. Friendships that are founded on relationships for both the children and adults are enjoyable for all involved, and they build memories that last a lifetime.
Another valuable online resource for the homeschool family are homeschool convention schedules and information that can be accessed for your specific state and any surrounding states. Homeschool conventions provide many valuable resources as you plan, build and overhaul your homeschool curriculum and educational resources.
If it is at all possible, access a schedule and exhibit hall map for each convention that you plan to attend. Allow yourself enough time before the day of the convention to review and plan your visit; map out your course to ensure that you visit your top vendor choices. Homeschool conventions can be overwhelming and a bit “intoxicating” as you walk through large sales booths, each designed to catch your attention and seduce you with their wonderful displays of academic resources, expensive curriculums and “special one day-only offers.”
Prepare and allow enough time to attend seminars and discussion groups that will be scheduled during the convention. Again, it is advisable that you review the scheduled discussion topics and plan which seminars are most valuable to your educational goals. Determine as many specific details of your convention visit as possible prior to your arrival to the convention.
As the convention is generally a one-day event, make sure that the seminars you attend are timely for your academic needs so that you do not waste valuable shopping time listening to something that simply does not apply to your homeschool goals. Remember that you are attending this convention to locate and possibly purchase the best that you can provide for your children's education; however, don't break the bank buying things you could create at home with a little bit of research and effort.