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Homeschool Co-op Tips

Read these 8 Homeschool Co-op 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.

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The Advantages of Joining A Homeschool Co-op

If your child struggles with meeting his elementary homeschool program reading requirements connecting the child with a homeschool co-op that provides reading clubs can do much in the motivation department. A child who sees other children working through assignments will be more apt to buckle down on their own.

I have thought about joining a homeschool co-op but wonder if this is really the right thing for my family?

Homeschool Co-ops Vary in Nature

In a general homeschool co-op, single families share their academic goals, morals, religious beliefs and social behaviors. The children learn similar belief and social structures from observation and interaction with the different members of the co-op.

In a co-op, parents often gather together to evaluate and share their special skills with one another and the children; each of these skills makes its way into the curriculum to benefit the academic life skills program for the students. As the parents work together, combining effort and personal skills, the end project is always focused upon the success of the whole unit.

In one type of homeschool co-op, one parent handles a group of learners for a lesson or group of lessons. In this format, another parent may provide academic assistance for the learner, but most students are left on site by a parent who returns later to pick the student up. A classroom co-op is a more combined effort of all the parents involved, where the parents remain on site and take turns giving lessons to a group of students, each taking an equal part in the lesson and training on any meeting date. These two basic models of a homeschool co-op are certainly not the only ways a homeschool co-op might be constructed. Rather, they are both very basic models that can be used to compare or base your own co-op structure.

I can't find a local homeschool co-op, what do I do?

How To Start A Homeschool Co-op

If you do not have a homeschool co-op in your area, you can start one. Here is a general list of what you will have to do to get a homeschool co-op started in your area:

  • Find a location for your homeschool co-op. This could be your local community center, church or even your home. Once your location is decided it will help you determine how many families can be involved.
  • Decide what kind of homeschool co-op you want to have. Your homeschool co-op may be faith based, age specific, subject specific -- such as a reading co-op or math co-op. Write down the goals and expectations of the group and make a folder or information sheet with the pertinent information to give to interested homeschooling families.
  • Advertise the homeschool co-op. You can do this by posting fliers at the library or running a small ad in the newspaper. Be sure to state that there is a screening process for the group if you have implemented one. Be sure to also note if enrollment is limited and if it is on a first come first served basis.
  • Meet with the interested families and brainstorm ideas for the homeschool co-op. This is when parents will talk about their education philosophies, behavior expectations of the children and what they are looking for in a local homeschool co-op.
  • Plan a second meeting with families who are still interested in joining your homeschool co-op. This is when you actually plan out your homeschool co-op schedule and parents volunteer their time to lead classes, watch younger children and more. Keep in mind that some parents are not comfortable leading a group of children. These parents could be in charge of refreshments or being in charge of a monthly newsletter.
  • Start your homeschool co-op under the expectation that kinks will arise and that rules, policies and procedures will have to be put in place as the group grows.

What are the advantages of joining a homeschool co-op?

The Advantages of Joining A Homeschool Co-op

A homeschool co-op has many advantages for a parent who is teaching an elementary homeschool program. Here are just a few:

  • You and your children will both develop friendships.
  • Coming together with peers is fun and it enables both adults and children to learn from each other.
  • If a parent is weak in a particular subject another homeschooling parent can teach that subject. For instance, a parent who is weak in math can allow another parent to teach their child math. Then, the parent who is weak in math may teach a subject he or she is in such as history or geography.
  • Children learn about public speaking and how to get up in front of a group through giving reports, doing show-and-tell, or simply reading a story.
  • Character growth is developed in homeschool co-ops because children learn to take instruction from someone other than their parents. They also learn how to share, interact with their peers and be a friend.
  • Homeschool co-ops are a good break from home and something both parents and children look forward to each week.
  • Homeschool co-ops make homeschooling families more accountable and they are more likely to stay on track.

Should every homeschooling family join a co-op?

Homeschool Co-ops May Not Work For All Families

Homeschooling families do not have to join co-ops. It is purely by choice whether you join one. Homeschool co-ops in themselves are positive groups which help to promote learning and friendships. However, there are reasons why your family may not be good candidates for homeschooling co-op programs.

  • Homeschool co-ops require parental involvement. They are not places to drop children while you run errands. You should not join a homeschool co-op and look upon it as a break. They require much involvement from both you and your children.
  • Do not add more stress to your plate by committing your family's time and energy to a homeschool co-op if you are already overly committed and extended. You and your children will not be able to meet your homeschool co-op requirements and you will let yourself and the group down.
  • If you have babies and toddlers in your family joining a homeschool co-op may interrupt their feedings and nap schedules. Simply wait a couple of years to join a homeschool co-op. Then your youngest children can join in with the group and do pre-school games and activities and it will not be as stressful on them.
  • The homeschool co-op is very active and it interferes with your children's ability to get their schoolwork done at home.

Are homeschool co-ops supposed to be public?

Do Not Let A Bad Homeschool Co-op Experience Turn You Off

Not all homeschool co-ops are created equal. Keep in mind when you are searching out a homeschool co-op that they are not in the "public" sector. Be careful when joining a co-op. Make sure you agree with its philosophy on learning, religion, etc. If you happen to join a homeschool co-op and have a bad experience, do not let it keep you from trying again. There are quality homeschool co-op programs out there they may just take a while to rise to the surface.

What is a homeschool co-op program?

Homeschool Co-op Programs

A homeschool co-op program is a group of homeschooling families who come together to share the teaching and learning experience. Co-ops generally meet once a week. The general setup of a co-op program will involve one parent who is proficient in math teaching a math class with students. Another parent who is proficient in writing or science may hold a writing or science class for the students and so on. Homeschool co-ops are a wonderful outlet for parents who may not feel they are up-to-par on particular subjects. It is also fun for the children because they can be around their peers. Homeschool co-op programs work very well for any age group.

Homeschool co-ops come in made different shapes, sizes and styles. They can also provide more than just outlets for academic learning. Homeschool co-ops may participate in field trips, plays, sporting events and other activities which the group approves.

There are a few homeschool co-ops in my area, how do I know which one to join?

Choosing A Homeschool Co-op

It is important to join a homeschool co-op where the parenting styles, worldviews and educational philosophies are similar to your own. Consider the dynamics of the group and ask for a list of their policies, procedures and rules. For instance, you may not want to join a homeschool co-op program which promotes Christianity and has a statement of faith if you are an atheist.

You should also choose a homeschool co-op where your children will be able to socialize with children of the same age and interests. If you have boys and the group mainly has girls, your boys may not feel comfortable. Likewise, if you have middle school aged children and the group is mainly young elementary children, your older children may not be happy in the program.

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