Homeschool co-op…maybe you’ve heard that phrase tossed around among your homeschooling friends. Or, maybe you read it on some homeschooling blog or overheard someone talking about it in the waiting room of the orthodontist and you can’t help but ask: what exactly is a homeschool co-op?
A homeschool co-op is just what it sounds like: a cooperative of homeschoolers who get together on a regular basis and do homeschooling together.
Homeschool co-ops come in many different forms. Some are more academic-based where hired teachers or dedicated parents teach classes on everything from pottery to AP Chemistry. Some are small groups of families who meet every once in a while to go on field trips together. Some meet daily, others weekly, and some once a month.
Here’s why homeschool co-ops are a great addition to your homeschool experience:
- Socialization – Those silly worries that “homeschool kids aren’t socialized enough” fly out the window with a homeschool co-op. Co-ops allow your children to make friends while they’re learning. That’s a win-win if you ask me.
- Cost Effective – Yes, many co-ops do charge an admission fee, but they do so for a reason. By paying into them, it pools everyone’s money together to buy equipment and resources — like microscopes and art supplies — that your family maybe couldn’t or wouldn’t want to buy on its own. Co-ops justify the cost of buying expensive materials and equipment as multiple families will need to use it!
- Classroom Environment – Despite all the beauty and flexibility of homeschooling, there are a few things it lacks. One is the experience of sitting in a classroom with a few of their peers, learning from each other and from the teacher. Being in a classroom teaches your children how to listen to a teacher and respect their classmates. Many homeschool co-ops provide a more classroom-based teaching style, which gives your kids the experience of classroom learning while still getting all the benefits of homeschooling.
- Learning from Peers – I’m not talking about your children here…I’m talking about you. By being a part of a homeschool co-op, you are interacting with families who do the same thing you do. It creates a network where you can learn from each other which homeschooling tricks work and which ones don’t.
- Tackles Difficult Subjects – Maybe you were always better in the STEM classes and you don’t know what to teach your artistic child. Or maybe you need to teach your children how to write a paper and you hardly know how yourself. That’s where homeschool co-ops come in handy! You may not be an expert in a subject but there’s probably another mom or dad in your co-op who is. Being a part of a homeschool co-op can cover those subjects that may not be your forte.
- Gives Mom a Break – You’re with your kids all day and your kids are with you all day. While you love your kids and they love you, sometimes you just need a little time apart. Being a part of a co-op allows you to take breaks from each other and interact with other people.
- Support — Homeschooling is hard, there’s no doubt about that. And a homeschool co-op is a place where everyone is going through the same struggles and trying to fix similar problems. It provides support so you don’t have to walk through any of it alone.
In short, homeschool co-ops are a lot of fun and provide you and your kids with friends who have similar interests. If you find a co-op that is right for your family, it will quickly become something you all look forward to every week.
Thinking of joining one? Talk to your family about it. Look for homeschool co-ops in your area and if you think you found one that fits your family, sign up!
What are some characteristics you’re looking for in a homeschool co-op?