The homeschool co-op…..It is a widely debated subject among homeschoolers. Many families, such as mine, are in love with their local co-op. In our area, the local homeschool moms are friendly, supportive, and basically drama-free. I have found my “tribe” of homeschoolers. Other families feel that they don’t need a co-op, or have had an unpleasant experience. Today I am going to outline what I love about our homeschool co-op, as well as throw out some things you should think about before you commit. Remember, just because these pros and cons are applicable in my situation doesn’t mean they will be in yours. Here are the reasons why I love my homeschool co-op.
Homeschooling can be a small isolated community, so sometimes you have to actively seek others. A homeschool co-op is like a regularly scheduled play date, especially if you find a group that allows for plenty of “social” time. (I know we all love that word.) My girls participate in many social activities, but it’s not the same as getting together with other homeschoolers. They have found many new friends in our local group, and our meetings give them something to look forward to. For me, it’s been a great place to meet new homeschool moms.
Being a member of a co-op comes with many opportunities that don’t present themselves to a single homeschool family. Our local co-op participates in Jump Rope for Heart every year. We also go on a variety of field trips, all at a group rate. We often have guest speakers, or specialized classes. Many of these activities would not be available to individual families.
Connect with other moms
I’ll be honest, some weeks the co-op is more for me. It allows me to connect with other moms, some who are more seasoned homeschoolers than I am. During free time I can share my frustrations, and glean from their experience. They have “walked a mile” in my shoes, sometimes more than once. Many are also in the same stage of their journey that I am. We are able to walk this scary, murky path together.
Learn group interaction
Like it or not, there are some drawbacks to the homeschool way of life. One example is the lack of time spent in a large group setting. In a homeschool co-op students can learn to work together in groups, become acquainted with basic classroom functions, as well as learn how to interact with peers outside their home.
One of my favorite parts of a homeschool group is the variety of moms involved. It is a rare opportunity for my kids to learn from someone other than me. Most of the homeschool moms I know are well-educated, with a variety of talents. This means that my kids get to learn awesome things from these wonderful ladies, things that mom may not be qualified to teach, or even know anything about.
Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, there are also some reasons why you absolutely should not join a homeschool co-op. Be sure you consider the following before you join.
- Lack of time or commitment – Skip joining a homeschool co-op if you can’t give it your time and commitment. A half-hearted member is draining to the other parents involved. Please don’t join if there are several other things that will take priority over the group. It ends up being unfair for all involved, and your children will not receive the true group experience.
- You do not plan to contribute – Again, if this is the case just skip it. A homeschool group works well because it is a collective effort from a group of moms, working to enhance the education experience of their children. If you don’t plan on putting in, then don’t join. Everyone has a talent (or skill) that they can contribute, and many hands make light work. Plan to give to the group in some way.
- You are in the wrong season of life – Sometimes as much as we want things to work out, we are just in the wrong season. A mom with a preschooler, and three young toddlers, may end up frazzled trying to attend regular co-op meetings. If you are in a busy season, then don’t feel obligated because all the other homeschoolers are doing it. Do what’s best for your family. You can always hop in later.
So there you have it, my reasons for joining a homeschool co-op, as well as some reasons why you should probably wait, or skip it all together. Please understand that you do not NEED a co-op to homeschool. As we know all too well, each homeschool journey is different, so what works for our family may not work for yours. If you decide to join a group I wish you the best of luck in finding your perfect homeschool “tribe.”